The Bogert Group
Impact Washington Helps The Bogert Group Grow Business by “Making the Complicated Simple”
Four years ago, Richard Bogert of The Bogert Group was operating his manufacturing company out of a two-car garage and having strategic meetings at his kitchen table. His company was made up of himself, his sister Cathy and one part time employee. Today, his company has 25 employees, operates out of a manufacturing facility near the Pasco Airport, is a major supplier to the U.S. Army of a specialized jack used for armored humvees and was named the AWB Small Manufacturer of the Year.
A lot has happened for The Bogert Group over the past four years of growth, and on that journey, he was aided by Impact Washington, which provided him with guidance, technical assistance and a roadmap to help him achieve his vision.
When Richard Bogert first met Patric Sazama of Impact Washington, Bogert was at a crossroads, and physically tired from ‘running’ the company out of the garage. Bogert was stuck in a maze with no room to expand if given the chance. Many nights after dinner, he would return to the garage to build or paint product for the next day’s shipping. He was making a living, but it wasn’t what he wanted to do. He wanted to design products and work with other manufacturers to get them built.
Sazama acted as a pro-bono advisor to the small company, letting them know exactly what it would take to achieve their goals. Patric gave The Bogerts assignments, and as a result, the first step in 2005 was a risk – moving into a larger facility and building the business afterward. The Port of Pasco had a 1940’s building that seemed at the time like a building that they could never fill, but it was available at the right price.
One year later, in July of 2006, Bogert got a call from Exponent Inc. in Phoenix. They were working on a project for the Army and needed a suitable jack for armored humvees. Exponent Inc. had learned of them on the internet and saw that they had experience building specialty lifting devices for aircraft. Bogert didn’t have anything on the shelf that was appropriate, but offered to build a prototype. Exponent didn’t think it would amount to much as Bogert only had 7 days to have a working prototype to Phoenix. To top it off, the only photos or technical data Bogert was allowed included cell phone photos with a tape measure in the photo for reference. Bogert wasn’t cleared for such confidential data. It was a challenge.
At the end of the 5th day, Bogert wasn’t quite happy with the options. They put innovation to the metal and welded through the night. When the employees arrived in the morning, Bogert had developed a jack with promise. It happened to be boat race weekend, and the National Guard had a standard Humvee at Columbia Park. Richard went down, slid the jack under and ‘tested’ it successfully. Richard returned to the airport and overnighted the jack to Phoenix for evaluation.
This first jack did not make the grade but showed so much promise that Bogert was asked to refine it and come back to Yuma for testing in September. By October of that year, they shipped their first commercial units.
Tank Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) wanted to place an order for 16,000 units of the jack, but the U.S. Army felt that The Bogert Group was too small to meet a large order like that. TACOM gave Bogert 3 days to decide to sell their technical data. He didn’t. Bogert wanted to build the product himself and committed all the company’s resources to doing so. It was at this time that Bogert relied on past experience, sending out free press releases on the jack in hopes someone would bite.
At that point, cash flow was tight, so Impact Washington brought in Paddy Fleming of MilTech, an organization that helps Department of Defense developers of innovative technology become sustainable suppliers. MilTech is partnered with the Montana MEP, the sister organization to Impact Washington in Montana. MilTech was able to secure a $15,000 grant for Bogert, which was invaluable in helping them keep the project going.
With all of their resources now committed to the project, they received an order from the General Services Administration (GSA), which had been getting requests for the jack. Bogert, now a $1 million revenue company with 6 employees, began delivery to GSA in late ’07. In 2008, GSA continued to order the jacks, accounting for just under $5 million in sales. Bogert was building their reputation as a stable supplier.
At the beginning of 2009, the U.S. Army, now confident of Bogert’s ability to deliver, sent over a contract for 108,000 units over 5 years. Bogert received the order for the first 10,000 units in January followed by the second order for 10,600 a few weeks later. Bogert is currently delivering ahead of schedule.
Throughout this growth, Impact Washington’s Project Manager Patric Sazama has played a significant role as an ongoing partner to Richard Bogert and The Bogert Group. He helped them put together their plan, gave advice throughout, and has acted as both coach and mentor to Richard.
The Bogert Group now has 25 employees, has renovated their building and has signed a long-term lease with the Port of Pasco, and Impact Washington continues to help them as they experience new issues as a growing company – organizational, supply chain, document management, process control and quality control.
“Impact Washington has played a significant role throughout as an ongoing partner,” said Richard Bogert. “They have been great in guiding us through the minefield – what we need to pay attention to are the things we do now that we didn’t know were important.”
Patric has been a big help in building the depth of the supply chain and offering advice on issues that surface. One in particular was with the hydraulic pump supplied in the jack kit. Bogert’s GSA jack kits use a pump assembled in America, though the parts were produced in China. This was acceptable for the GSA contract, but the Army contract called out for all U.S. made parts as per the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act. After weeks of trying to find a suitable solution, Richard realized that no current American made pump manufacturer was willing or able to comply and deliver required quantities.
The only solution was to design one, have parts machined locally and assemble and test in house. They have become one of the larger pump manufacturers in the country by accepting this risk.
“It’s not enough to know how to make stuff,” said Bogert. “You need to know how to make it all work – marketing, sales, supply chain, manufacturing – and we’ve learned those things from Patric Sazama. Impact Washington has helped us make the complicated simple.”