News

Blake Willson Group Receives 8(a) certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA)

Arlington, VA., December 1, 2018– Blake Willson Group, LLC (BWG), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), has received 8(a) certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA) which it will hold until November 29, 2027. BWG expects participation in the 8(a) Business Development Program will expand its ability to provide outstanding professional services solutions to federal and state customers alike.

8(a) Program eligibility is limited to small businesses “unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of and residing in the United States” that demonstrate “potential for success.” The 8(a) Business Development program assists small, disadvantaged businesses in gaining access to government contracting. The program consists of a 4-year developmental stage, and a 5-year transition stage. Companies are subject to annual reviews and systematic evaluation from the SBA district office throughout the program.

The SBA 8(a) Business Development program will allow BWG to pursue sole source federal and state government projects (up to $4 million per contract) and compete for set aside contracts open only to those with these small business certifications. According the Congressional Research Service, in FY2017, 3,421 8(a) firms were awarded more than $27.1 billion in federal contracts, including $8.0 billion in 8(a) set- aside awards and $8.4 billion in 8(a) sole-source awards.

RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG, was pleased to announce the new designation to the BWG team, stating: “We are excited about the future and how this opportunity will help us grow our business. Our team of talented professionals have worked tirelessly over the years developing a positive reputation for excellence within the federal government. Inclusion in the 8(a) Business Development program is the next step in our journey to providing best value to our government customers and providing career growth opportunities for our team members.”

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with RJ Blake, please call 703-552-4541 or email admin@blakewillsongroup.com.

Blake Willson Group Media Contact:

admin@blakewillsongroup.com || 703.552.4541

Blake Willson Group, LLC Awarded GSA Professional Services Schedule

Arlington, VA., April 1, 2018– Blake Willson Group, LLC (BWG), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and Certified Public Accounting (CPA) is pleased to announce that the company has been awarded the U.S. General Service Administration’s (GSA) Professional Services Schedule contract for government services. This five-year contract allows BWG to provide products and services to local, state and federal buyers.

BWG will work directly with government agencies to provide services and solutions under this schedule, which includes the 520-11 and 520-13 Special Item Numbers (SINs) for accounting and financial management.

RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG, said “This award is a testament to our experience and the level of trust developed as a service provider. We are excited about the new ways we will be able to provide excellent service and value to federal, state, and local buyers.”

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with RJ Blake, please call 703-552-4541 or email admin@blakewillsongroup.com.

 Blake Willson Group Media Contact:

admin@blakewillsongroup.com || 703.552.4541

Blake Willson Group Proud to Announce President & CEO, RJ Blake, as 40 under 40 Honoree

Arlington, Virginia – Blake Willson Group is proud to announce that RJ Blake is a recipient of the 2017 40 Under 40 award, presented by Leadership Center for Excellence. RJ Blake and other honorees, will be recognized for the positive leadership impact they make personally and/or professionally at a luncheon on Friday, November 30, 2017 from 11:30am until 1:30pm at Army Navy Country Club.

The 40 Under 40 event honors forty trailblazers who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in the personal or professional spheres and who are devoted to making positive change within our community. This event was an opportunity to support and recognize these leaders, and the Leadership Center for Excellence hopes that they will further create valuable social capital for this region. Click here to view the list of honorees.

RJ Blake was chosen because of his personal and professional success story; rising from a disadvantaged childhood to becoming the first in his family to graduate college, serve in leadership capacities in the U.S. Army, including deployment to Afghanistan, and start and run a successful CPA firm in the Washington DC area. Mr. Blake serves as a volunteer with American Corporate Partnership (ACP) to mentor transitioning veterans in their pursuit of education, employment, and entrepreneurship. In addition, Mr. Blake and leadership at Blake Willson Group, heavily support the American Heart Association in their efforts to fight heart disease and stroke.

“We are so proud of RJ Blake on this wonderful honor,” said Drew Griffin, Vice President of Blake Willson Group. “His tireless work ethic and servant-leader qualities better our company, the employees, and the community.”

Drew Griffin, Vice President of BWG Shared His Personal Story at the 2017 East Carolina University Business Leadership Conference

April 11, 2017 – Hendrix Theatre (Greenville, NC)

East Carolina University (ECU) hosted their annual Business Leadership Conference on Tuesday, April 11th, 2017 where over thirty (30) business leaders from across the United States [some ECU graduates] volunteered to help students understand the realities of the business world in a professional conference environment.

Dr. Stan Eakins, Dean of the ECU College of Business, said, “The conference is a tremendous event that inspires and informs our students, and the presenters touch lives in ways they can’t imagine. ECU is known as the Leadership University, and this event shows how the College of Business is determined to lead in the development of tomorrow’s business leaders.”

 Drew Griffin, Vice President of BWG asked students to think back to middle school geography class and visualize where Washington, DC is located on the U.S. map. He stated, “just like there are countless paths to Washington, DC via car, plane, train, bus or even boat; there are equally that many paths to personal success. So, do not let someone else’s version of success or their risk factors solely determine your path in life. Consider other’s advice but remember, regret feels way worse than failure.”

Mr. Griffin then shifted to describing the two most formative moments in his adult life; inflection points as he described them: 1) his father passing away and 2) being dismissed from ECU’s Graduate School for poor grades, on top of losing his job. Like most people who undergo traumatic situations, those days were stressful and especially difficult to handle. Mr. Griffin explained these events forced him to decide between using those unfortunate events as a crutch for not reaching his full potential or motivators to drive him. He chose the latter and encouraged attendees to do the same for any traumatic situations in their own lives.

Drew emphasized worrying only about our own effort and spending dedicated time reflecting on our actions for improvement. Nothing else matters. He encouraged attendees to act now, be patient and stay optimistic. Success will come! Mr. Griffin closed with the following:

  1. Maintain a High, Consistent Failure Rate. If you are not failing on a consistent basis, be it personally or professionally, you are not putting yourself out there enough to experience the unique success you desire. Persistence is the key!
  2. Commit to Uncommon Actions. Look for ways to stand out above the crowd – show people they are worth your inconvenience. Look for opportunities to go the extra mile, it will serve you well because the extra mile is not well traveled.
  3. Listen to Understand, Not Just to Respond. When people talk, actively listen for cues to show you are listening; rephrase their statements to show you understand their point and do not interrupt. Do not participate in verbal boxing where each person essentially bobs and weaves during the conversation to get a word in.
  4. Be a Servant-Leader. Take ECU’s motto “servire” seriously. Help others before yourself. Identify and meet the needs of colleagues, customers, and communities.

For more information on the ECU Business Leadership Conference, please contact: Steve Myzsak at myszaks@ecu.edu.

BWG Media Contact:

RJ Blake || rblake@blakewillsongroup.com || 443.235.7882 (c)

RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG Shared His Personal Story as a Panel Speaker at the 2017 Veterans in Business Conference

March 23, 2017 – Army/Navy Country Club (Arlington, VA)

Did you know veterans represent only 6% of the total U.S. population but account for 13.5% (or 3.7 million) of all small businesses in the United States? These businesses employ 5.8 million Americans; pay more than $210 billion in wages; and contribute $1.7 trillion to the U.S. GDP. Veteran-owned businesses truly are fueling the economy. Recognizing the trend and success rate of veterans in business; civic and business leaders alike in Virginia created the Annual Veterans-In-Business (VIB) Conference to help connect those who served our country and continue with that kindred spirit into the private sector through education, networking and business opportunities.

On Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, RJ Blake, President & CEO of BWG and other successful veteran business leaders shared their personal stories, highlighting the journey from boots to business. Mr. Blake began the discussion with his early years on Maryland’s eastern shore, where he developed an entrepreneurial spirit; selling bushels of crabs he caught along the canals, flipping baseball cards for a profit, or even selling golf balls he recovered from the ponds at local golf courses. Mr. Blake leadership endeavors began in the US Army where he served as a scout team leader, conducting counterinsurgency during combat deployments to Afghanistan. Mr. Blake was quoted with saying “Transitioning from the Army to civilian life was difficult, but those values and experiences in the hard times provided me with the grit to perservere…it gave me the confidence to know I could do it, just one foot in front of the other.” Mr. Blake underwent years of physical therapy while concurrently attending the University of Maryland’s R.H. Smith School of Business, obtaining his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license and gaining experience in Big 4 public accounting.

By 2014, Mr. Blake founded Blake Willson Group (BWG), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and licensed CPA firm, based in the Washington DC metropolitan area. In short time, the company has recognized success in federal government contracting arena, with triple digit growth year over year.

Having recognized success in his transition from boots to business, Mr. Blake shared the following tips with others thinking of venturing out on their own:

  • Show up. 85% of life is showing up, especially when you’re having a bad day. Show up to the client site, but also be sure to get out to those networking events. You never know who you will meet or where the windy road in life will take you.
  • Be true to yourself. Be pure of heart, with good intentions, and surround yourself with those that have similar values in life. Define your core values. Pass on the quick wins that compromise your core values – they are not worth jeopardizing your future or business.
  • Be Resourceful. Resources are available and abundant, often at no cost to you as a veteran. There are numerous jointly funded programs (federal, state, nonprofit) that provide free assistance to small businesses (business plans, contracting, legal), especially to veterans. Contact your local SBA office and resource partners before spending money on business consultants. If you’re a entreprenuer in Northern Virginia, Highly recommend you reach out Charles McCaffrey, Director of the Veterans Business Outreach Center in Springfield, VA.
  • Never stop learning. If you are a veteran-owned business, sign up for one of the Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) programs. VIP provides all the tricks of the trade in federal contracting world – from starting a business, growing a business and now the international program

Mr. Blake encouraged conference attendees to think about the long game more than the short. Say yes to the client more than you say no. Starting out, YOU are the company. Your reputation is everything. Provide quality work, exceed expectations and do not nickel and dime the client. Sometimes pro bono work comes back in your favor ten-fold.

For more information on the VIB Conference, please contact: Charles McCaffrey at charles@cbponline.org

BWG Media Contact:

Andrew Griffin || agriffin@blakewillsongroup.com || 919.796.1170 (c)