Maytag Aircraft Corporation in Unique Partnership at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida

Maytag Aircraft Corporation in Unique Partnership at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida

Maytag Aircraft Corporation

The most recent contract awarded to Maytag Aircraft Corporation involves a unique partnership to conduct operations at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. There Maytag is subcontracting with a small business to conduct alongside aircraft refueling. While the type of work is nothing new, and in fact, President and COO David Nelson remind us that Maytag has been doing alongside aircraft refueling for more than 60 years. The structure of the contract for this type of refueling, with Maytag as a subcontractor, is something Nelson says is one he expects they will see more of in the future.

Maytag Aircraft Corporation operates a bit differently from other companies within the Mercury family. As a company that contracts solely with the government, they must work within the strict sets of rules - in terms of protocol and processes - as established by the federal acquisitions regulations.

Nelson explained that what usually happens in the government procurement process is that the government will put out a solicitation for proposals. The solicitation will include the contract language, including the pricing, the structure, the performance work statement, and it will include references to a variety of military regulations that competing companies will need to comply with.

When looking at a solicitation, Nelson said they must first determine if they qualify, and secondly, if it fits their competency base.

"You have to have a past performance record in providing the services and the competency that's being solicited," he said, "so it makes it very difficult to break into a new service without that competency."

In the solicitation, the government will also indicate whether the contract will be unrestricted or a set-aside (a contract set-aside is when a portion of public contracts are to be awarded to a minority or small business enterprise).

Nelson said they prefer the unrestricted variety, as they are able to bid on them as the prime contractor and having control over their destiny. Maytag, by virtue of its Mercury parent company, is considered a large business, and thus, ineligible to bid directly on those contracts that the government has earmarked for small businesses.

To keep one foot in the door, Maytag has taken to partnering with small businesses, with the goal being to achieve as much of a 49% piece of the overall project. For the Jacksonville contract, Maytag has partnered with a company called UPC.

"UPC is the prime, we're the subcontractor," Nelson said. "We just got started and it's had its typical startup growing pains, but we're getting through that," he said.

This arrangement is mutually beneficial to both Maytag and its partnered small business. "This way, we're able to reap the benefits of operating a project and a contract that we otherwise wouldn't be able to bid as a prime contractor," Nelson said.

During times when the availability of unrestricted contracts within Maytag's competency base is limited, Maytag's ability to pursue this kind of project as a subcontractor is 'a kind of survival mode,' Nelson said. By establishing the groundwork as a subcontractor for this particular competency (alongside air refueling) with UPC, Maytag can point to this experience to get similar contracts down the line, thereby increasing the number of contracts on which they can bid.

"That's further success in the set-aside market," Nelson said. "That past performance, even though it may not be directly related to a given project, it is something that helps our reputation among [government agencies]. It is viewed as a positive," he said.

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