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)

MorganFranklin Consulting, Blake Willson Group to Collaborate Under U.S. Small Business Administration All Small Mentor-Protégé Program

D.C.-based consulting firm and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business CPA firm announce collaboration under new program designed to develop strong protégé firms through mentor-provided business development assistance and to help protégés successfully compete for government contracts.

McLean, Virginia PRWEB – Full Article

mfc_bwg_logoMorganFranklin Consulting, a strategy and execution-focused business consulting firm and professional advisor, and Blake Willson Group (BWG), a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) CPA firm, announced the firms’ acceptance into the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) All Small Mentor-Protégé Program. As part of the program, MorganFranklin will serve as mentor for BWG to develop the protégé firm through mentor-provided business development assistance and to help the protégé successfully compete for government contracts.

“MorganFranklin is thrilled to collaborate with Blake Willson Group in this capacity, and we are eager to work hand in hand with BWG while strengthening our commitment to the development of small businesses and supporting the missions of the departments and agencies they serve,” said Frank Landefeld, Managing Director & Public Sector Market Leader at MorganFranklin. “Because we remember what it is like to be a small business, it is important to us to share our experience by providing guidance and opportunities for small businesses. This initiative gives us that chance while also enhancing the services both firms deliver to the U.S. government.”

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 provided authority for the SBA to establish mentor-protégé programs for all small businesses. Rather than creating separate programs for each constituency—SDVOSB, Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB), and Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone)—the SBA chose to create a single, all-inclusive mentor-protégé program modeled on the successful mentor-protégé program available to participants in its 8(a) program. Under the new program, mentor-provided assistance can be sought for activities including management, technical, financial, contracting, trade education, business development, and general or administrative assistance.

“Small businesses provide vital services to our government and play an integral role in the success of the American economy,” said RJ Blake, President & CEO of Blake Willson Group, who was first introduced to MorganFranklin through the firms’ shared commitment to supporting the American Heart Association. “We are excited to collaborate with MorganFranklin under this new initiative, and we believe the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program will be incredibly beneficial for both firms and serve as a model for increasing small-business participation in the government.”

For more information about the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program, visit http://www.sba.gov/navigation-structure/all-small-mentor-protege-program.

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Blake Willson Group
Blake Willson Group is a licensed CPA firm with a skilled team of dynamic individuals dedicated to providing timely, cost-effective, and forward-thinking solutions to customers. Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, the practice holds Department of VA-certified (CVE) Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) status. https://www.blakewillsongroup.com

About MorganFranklin Consulting
MorganFranklin is a strategy and execution-focused business consulting firm and professional advisor. The company provides strategic thinking and hands-on support to help public companies, fast-growing private companies, and government clients manage growth and maximize performance. The firm delivers strategy, accounting and transaction services, risk and compliance, and information management and technology solutions. MorganFranklin is headquartered in the Washington, D.C., area and has supported clients in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. http://www.morganfranklin.com

MorganFranklin Consulting is the brand name referring to the global organization of MorganFranklin, Inc. and its subsidiary MorganFranklin Consulting, LLC.

Media Contacts:

Melinda Holler
MorganFranklin Consulting

Andrew Griffin
Blake Willson Group

BWG Reaches Small Business Milestone With VIP Grow



Helping Veteran-Owned Small Business Navigate Government Contracting at No Cost

BLAKE WILLSON GROUP (BWG), a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) CPA firm recently completed the Veteran Institute Procurement (VIP) GROW Program, a comprehensive training and certification program that helps veteran-owned businesses strengthen their ability to win government contracts and do business with both military and civilian agencies they once served in uniform.


On June 23, 2016, BWG alongside 47 other businesses from 14 states and the District of Columbia graduated from the VIP GROW Program. Upon graduation, RJ Blake, BWG President and CEO was presented a congressional citation by Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia’s 8th District on behalf of the company signifying a momentous day for the company.

After receiving the citation, Mr. Blake, stated, “We are honored to receive the VIP GROW certification and congressional citation. After all the networking and opportunities for guidance offered by the VIP program, I am confident BWG is now armed with the requisite knowledge and acumen to achieve our long-term goals in the government contracting industry. I highly recommend the VIP GROW program to all veteran-owned business looking for a leg up on the competition. I am extremely thankful for the selfless and dedicated men and women that deliver the program to benefit veterans like myself.”

The first program of its kind in the nation, VIP GROW is conducted by professional subject-matter specialists in the essentials necessary to win government contracts: law, accounting, insurance, human resources, marketing and proposals. It also provides participants with access to Federal and prime contracting executives along with a national network of veteran owned small businesses that they can team with on opportunities.

Since its launch in 2009, VIP GROW has helped 638 service-disabled and veteran-owned small businesses grow.  A survey of 255 of the program’s graduates determined that 2915 new jobs were created and the size of their businesses increased by an average of 51% within a year of graduating from the Institute. More than 81% of surveyed graduates credited VIP GROW for equipping them to make recent business decisions and avoid unseen pitfalls. Additionally, veteran-owned businesses are more likely to hire, mentor and train other war veterans as they transition to private life, which is a national priority.

In regards to the goals of VIP GROW, Barbara Ashe, President of Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation stated, “we are honored to give back to the men and women who served our country by providing them with the tools necessary to succeed as government contractors. We hope this training fosters their success as businesses and employers.”


VIP GROW is a three-day, 27-hour comprehensive certification program. Participants must be a C-level leader in a Veteran-owned small business operating for at least two years with a minimum of 3 full time employees, and experience working on government contracts as a prime and/or sub-contractor to a prime. With volunteer instructors and at no cost to participants, VIP GROW is fully funded by the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation, partners, and VIP sponsors.

For information on Blake Willson Group: Andrew Griffin, 919-796-1170; agriffin@blakewillsongroup.com

For information on VIP: Barbara Ashe, 301-738-0015 x215; bashe@mcccmd.com

For additional information, please visit www.NationalVip.org or the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation.

OPEN YOUR HEART! – A Son’s Effort to Combat Heart Disease

open-your-heartDid you know heart disease is the #1 killer of all Americans? In fact, someone dies from heart disease every 39 seconds! Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined is the most common cause of infant death.

Recently, Drew Griffin – Vice President of Blake Willson Group LLC, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Government Consulting firm spoke about his family’s experience with heart disease at the Open Your Heart Committee’s most recent fundraising reception. Open Your Heart is a Washington, DC based group affiliated with the American Heart Association (AHA) charged with socializing healthy-living awareness as well as raise research dollars to help fund new breakthrough medical procedures.

Drew lost his beloved father, Jeff Griffin in 2009 after a long, hard-fought battle with heart disease where he witnessed his father not only suffer a massive heart attack at 25 years old, stroke at 44 and heart transplant at 52 but also see him withstand it all with grace. Even through trying times, Jeff was not one to complain, taking each step in stride. He often made light of his health issues by saying he had been beyond and back and was living on borrowed time. Jeff focused his energy on helping others through his work as a pastor and financial advisor. He cherished giving back. He was a loving husband for 31 years and father to three sons. He shared a close bond with his sons and never wavered in pursuit of seeing them grow up. Simply put, he was their biggest fan. Although he passed on August 22nd, 2009 at 57 years old, his presence is still felt through the mark left on those he shared time with.

Fast forward to 2012, Drew along with the help of family and friends started ‘Team Beyond and Back’ to help combat heart disease along with cope with the loss of Jeff and to date have raised over $25,000 with hopes to one day surpass the $100,000 mark.

After last week’s Open Your Heart fundraising reception held at All Set, a Silver Spring, MD based New England-style seafooder, Jesse Garchik, AHA’s Director of Development for their Mid-Atlantic Affiliate stated, “Drew’s story impacted everyone in attendance. It was extremely heart-breaking but also uplifting at the same time. His purpose is simple, to encourage engagement as that’s what will eliminate heart disease and like the heart transplant that prolonged his father’s life 5 extra years; find the next life-saving medical procedure to do the same for someone else. After Drew effectively engaged the audience through powerful story-telling and deliberate humor, the group raised over $2,000 towards the AHA mission and are well on their way to reaching its $280,000 goal by the end of February 2016.

If you’d like to join AHA’s mission partners, please click Open Your Heart to participate with thousands of others like Drew as they fight to eliminate heart disease for future generations.