Now Mr. Garcia wants to utilize the company's technical expertise to stake out its own profitable territory in cyberspace. The idea to move from the old business model of government contracting – a shrinking sector, which nonetheless currently accounts for all of PMG's revenue – to the new reality of the Internet. To that end, PMG will develop a bilingual Web portal featuring a range of editorial and e-commerce offerings. Mr. Garcia hopes to line up about 15 "channel partners" to provide the site's content. He acknowledges that he faces a tough fight in the increasingly crowded world of Hispanic-oriented cyberspace. The site will include business-to-business and business-to-consumer capacity, and most of the revenue will come from online advertising.
Mr. Garcia plans to make PMG more global through the launch of an e-commerce venture. "We want to move more of our business into the world economy via the Internet," he explains.
The Web will help PMG fend off the feast-or-famine cycle that debilitates many government contractors, Mr. Garcia believes. For now, the company has a full plate of work, thanks to the $22 million contract. However, it's uncertain when the next contract will surface or how much revenue it will provide. "You just don't know if you're going to get a contract tomorrow," he says, "so you had better always be working on getting the next one." In response to this uncertainty, as well as the consolidation trend consuming the federal contracting market, PMG is preparing to wean itself from government work by bidding on commercial contracts.
Besides talent and luck, Mr. Garcia owes his success to networking with other Hispanic entrepreneurs. He grew up in Arlington, Virginia, earning top grades in high school and setting a state record for the half-mile on the track team. After graduating from the University of Texas, he returned to the Washington, D.C. area to work for Research Management Corp., a large government contractor.
He founded PMG in his home in 1992. He financed the start-up with credit cards while working full-time at Research Management. Eventually, he mortgaged his home for capital and quit his job. He spent much of his time networking with people in the Washington area who ran successful contracting businesses.
A few years later, he met William Soza, president of Soza & Co. Ltd., a professional management services firm based in Fairfax, Virginia. "Will became my mentor," recalls Mr. Garcia. "He sat down with me and said, 'This how is you do it.'"
Says Mr. Soza: "Dennis came to me seeking advice and ended up doing subcontracting with us. I explained how we do things here, and we discussed ways of doing business in general. PMG did more than $1 million in subcontracting work for us."
Both CEOs offer simple advice to would-be entrepreneurs looking to break into high-tech contracting: network ferociously. They emphasize how important it is for companies based outside of the nation's capital to establish a presence there. Mr. Garcia takes full advantage of his geographical location. "I still spend most of my time networking with other businesses, trying to figure out what's coming next, and my network continues to grow," he says.
Networking with the local Hispanic community, observes Mr. Garcia, yields solid business contacts as well as goodwill and publicity for his business. He feels the need to give back to the community where he grew up, believing that such contributions help Hispanic businesses in the long run by promoting education, training, and health in the community. "I have a great passion for Hispanics," he says, "and my business enables me to do things within my community."
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