Big contract in a little town

Big contract in a little town


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Digital airport surveillance radar built and installed by NATECH at the Waco Regional Airport in Texas.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NATECH

COOS BAY A technology company in Coos Bay has been awarded an $8 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration to upgrade FAA infrastructure in multiple states.

Defying the trend of chronic job loss in struggling coastal towns — unemployment in Coos County is around 12.8% — Native American Technology Corporation (NATECH) says the project will eventually require an additional seven to 10 full-time employees with two of its traveling maintenance staff based in Oregon. NATECH will install battery backups and repair FAA power systems in 15 Western states.

NATECH president John Williford says his company’s gross revenue grew 20% over the last fiscal year because of contracts with  Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Computer Sciences Corp. Williford says he hired two additional personnel in the accounting department and is currently hiring a proposal writer — all in the Coos Bay office.

While the 75-employee company has completed larger projects as a subcontractor for Lockheed, its work for the FAA will be the largest prime contract the company has undertaken in its 10-year history. He estimates that NATECH will begin the project by the end of the year.

Williford, who used to work for the FAA, says NATECH’s far-ranging work for the agency could pick up even more. After marketing NATECH to the FAA as willing to work anywhere in the nation, the agency informed him in late October that his company made the short list for a Master Ordering Agreement. The arrangement assigns tasks to contractors as they arise, but has no concrete dollar amount. “It has potential to be large,” says Williford. He says he expects to see another 20% growth in revenue for 2010 because of the FAA contracts.

Williford’s wife, Wanda, is the owner and CEO of the company and a member of the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. Their two daughters serve as heads of financial services and HR.

The affable executive is modest about his family business’ success. “When you’re small, the numbers look huge,” he says.

WILLIAM E. CRAWFORD