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Mentor-Protege Partnership Between Northrop Grumman, Davidson Technologies in Huntsville a ‘Win-Win’

(From left to right) Rob Watson, small business liaison officer for Northrop Grumman; Austin Boyd, senior vice president of strategy and business development for Davidson Technologies; Joseph Green, vice president of intelligence and information operations for Davidson Technologies; Anna Halicka, manager of business opportunities for Davidson Technologies; Katie Bosarge, coordinator of marketing and community

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – It’s been a year and a half since Northrop Grumman took Davidson Technologies under its wing, and so far, the partnership has been nothing but positive for the Huntsville-based small business.

Davidson and Northrop Grumman sat down with on Thursday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium to discuss the mentor-protégé agreement, which was signed last May.

The 36-month program allows Northrop Grumman to mentor Davidson in a number of areas, including ISO 9,000 certification, cybersecurity and information assurance, systems engineering, marketing, human resources and accounting, contracting and more.

Davidson, a teammate on Northrop Grumman’s Joint National Integration Center Research and Development Contract (JRDC), is already seeing results from the mentor-protégé relationship.

“We are together able to leverage more opportunities than we would alone,” said Austin Boyd, Davidson’s senior vice president of strategy and business development. “There’s the old saying that together, we’re more powerful than the sum of our parts.

“I encourage any small business who has an opportunity to be a part of a funded DoD or NASA mentor-protégé program to aggressively go after it.”

Approved by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the agreement is designed to help small businesses like Davidson boost their involvement in federal subcontracts by creating long-term relationships with larger defense contractors.

In the past 18 months, Boyd said Davidson has expanded its Huntsville campus, doubled the dollar value of its corporate pipeline, bid four prime contracts and seen a significant increase in new job openings, most of which are high-end engineering, IT and modeling/simulation positions.

“We now have the most job openings we have ever had in the history of the company,” Boyd said. “There are 63 job openings we’re trying to fill right now.”

Mentor-protégé partnership

For Northrop Grumman, the mentor-protégé partnership is something they take seriously. When the company signed on to mentor Davidson last year, it had already mentored about 100 other small businesses and had 16 active agreements across the world.

Northrop Grumman program manager Rick Pender, who expects Davidson will complete its ISO 9,000 certification with help from his company later this year, said the partnership is a “win-win” for both companies and the MDA.

“We as an industry partner with the government have the ultimate responsibility of providing to our warfighters the best capabilities this country can provide so they can protect our nation,” he said.

The DoD mentor-protégé program was founded in the early 1990s to encourage defense contractors to mentor small, disadvantaged businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration. Rob Watson, small business liaison officer for Northrop Grumman, said mentors aren’t just limited to large companies.

In fact, Davidson plans to become a mentor after the three-year agreement with Northrop Grumman is complete. Joe Green, vice president of intelligence and information operations for Davidson, encourages small businesses looking to enter a mentor-protégé program to develop deep working relationships with qualified companies.

“One of the keys of the mentor-protégé is you already have an existing relationship; you don’t go in cold turkey,” he said. “You know each other, you like each other, you’re used to working with each other, you’re professional. That’s what we took advantage of.”

Davidson Technologies is run by chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Davidson, wife of the late Dr. Julian Davidson, a space and missile defense pioneer who founded the company in 1996 and died last year.

August 14, 2014

Lucy Berry | By Lucy Berry |

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