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Member Profile featuring Jon Tellier of JetCo Solutions

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Member Profile: JetCo Solutions

March 31, 2024

Helping Small Businesses Succeed With Government Sales and Contracting

Jon Tellier, retired Lieutenant Colonel and Founder and President of JetCo Solutions, uses his military perspective to help other small businesses persevere through, what has been known to be, the challenging process of obtaining government contracts.

JetCo Solutions sells to all levels of the government with services covering the entire government sales lifecycle, from business development to proposal management. Tellier, and his growing team of twelve employees, makes the process approachable and streamlined, guiding and empowering businesses to investigate the potential and enter into the lucrative business of government sales and contracts.

Along with an impressive list of board appointments and memberships, Tellier’s service to our country is beyond notable. He was awarded a Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Combat Infantry Badge, a Ranger Tab and a Master Parachutist Badge.

JetCo Solutions, as a business, is also award-worthy. It received the 2023 “Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year” award, as well as the 2015 “EPIC Veteran Owned Business of the Year” by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, it earned a spot on the 2017 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” from Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

Focus caught up with Tellier to discuss how his military service broadens his business perspective, as well as how a small business can tackle the government contract process:

Focus: Tell us why you started JetCo Solutions.

Tellier: I got fired! It was 2006 and there were no jobs around to be found. I was unemployed and had a kid in private school and travel hockey and a new wife. Both of us were out of work. What we learned quickly was crisis breeds creativity.

Focus: How do you determine if a small business is ready to enter into government contracts? And in what ways do you help them prepare?

Tellier: First I’d like to give a shoutout for our friends at APEX Accelerators (previously PTAC). When a company decides to get into government contracting, they need to make sure they’re registered properly and can actually receive an award from the government. APEX helps companies square away the foundational requirements like Unique Entity ID (UEI), System for Award Man- agement (SAM), North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), etc.

While we could help too, APEX is the right place to start. Once you’re squared away with the essentials, we look at the big question: Is the government buying what you’re selling? A business might have a fabulous product, but the government might not be interested in what the business provides.

Due diligence is important to determine if government sales are the right fit. In some cases, it’s also an evaluation of the right culture to sell to the government. The thing about JetCo Solutions is we don’t take your money if we can’t be useful to you. We do our due diligence to ensure the government is buying what you’re selling. If they’re not, then we probably aren’t a good fit for you.

Focus: Many small businesses aren’t aware of what the government needs. What type of contracts are out there that may surprise a small business owner and spur them to apply?

Tellier: IDIQ: Indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity. Sometimes the government doesn’t know how much or when they are going to buy; they only know that they will need to buy at various intervals. This type of contract is well-suited for small businesses because once the business has the award, they can bid on the delivery or task orders that make the most sense, or are the ones they want to do. It’s not a requirement to bid on everything.

The most common type of IDIQ is a multiple award. Ultimately this gives small businesses a higher chance of getting an award since the threshold for small businesses getting the award is lower. Overall, IDIQ contracts have been a great entry point for small business.

Another great tool that helps small businesses get started with government contracts is the Michigan Defense Center (MDC) Proposal Writing Services grant program. Grant funds from the MDC pay for up to half of the cost of proposal writing services that are contracted through one of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s pre-qualified proposal writing firms. JetCo Solutions is the only Michigan-based company qualified to write bids for the MDC Proposal Writing Services grant program. Since 2015, we have written more than 70 bid responses for businesses in Michigan where the MDC has covered up to half of the writing fees.

Focus: JetCo Solutions was honored with the Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year award by Michigan Celebrates Small Business. How has this impacted your business?

Tellier: Winning the Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year Award in 2023 from Michigan Celebrates Small Business solidified JetCo Solutions as a viable service disabled, veteran-owned business. With the attention we gained, we were able to ultimately mentor and advise other veteran-owned businesses or veterans looking to get into the business sector. We’re also able to raise awareness for veterans and the challenges they face after leaving the service. Really, we’ve found it’s about giving back.

Focus: How has your military training helped you as an entrepreneur?

Tellier: Perspective. When looking back at my military service, most of my business struggles really pale in comparison. An 0400 wake up call for driving to a business event may suck, but certainly beats being in the deserts of Iraq or being in the mountains in the winter on mile 23 of a 26-mile march. Perspective really reminds me about what’s important, like friends, family and relationships.

Focus: Being a member of SBAM has many advantages. What product and/or service helps you the most?

Tellier: When we’re looking for a service, we always seek out SBAM’s recommendation first. Their member benefits team does a great job finding and vetting the kinds of services we need. It really frees up time and alleviates headaches for us.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to Brian Calley and his successes with the political action committee. We also appreciate the owner-to-owner events, and SBAM’s ability to connect an owner with another owner who has similar experiences. For example, if I was looking to switch my business from an LLC to an S-CORP, SBAM would connect me with another owner who has already walked that path. Building connections like that through SBAM really helps us avoid so many potential pitfalls.

Focus: What is your best piece of advice for small business owners, especially those facing many challenges?

Tellier: If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Be strong and persevere and stay true to your vision. Business owners are going to struggle at some point with payroll, benefits, associates leaving, etc. It’s part of the job. Also, it’s hard to talk to your family about it. They don’t understand business ownership, if they’re not in it. Like I mentioned earlier, SBAM can help a small business owner find someone to connect with who has already gone through that experience. Building that community is essential.


By Bona Van Dis; originally published in SBAM’s March/April 2024 issue of FOCUS magazine

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