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Northwest Michigan PTAC Newsletter

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Graceland Fruit Makes $4.5 Million Sale With Help From PTAC

(June 2019)

Graceland Fruit in Frankfort is selling $4.5 million worth of dried cherries to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), hosted by Networks Northwest, helped the company make the sale. Graceland, a producer of dried fruits, including cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and apples, has sold products to the USDA since 2001. But this spring they were notified of the bid just two weeks prior to the deadline so they contacted the PTAC for assistance.

Graceland officials say a USDA Bid is a very important part of their business and PTAC was able to assist them with submitting the bid on a moment’s notice. PTAC staff reviewed bid documents and helped Graceland create, review, and finalize the bid while they were submitting it electronically.

Graceland officials say “the peace of mind and ease of contacting PTAC relieved a lot of stress and PTAC service is a vital part of successfully being able to submit bids to the USDA.”

The dried cherries Graceland sold to the USDA will be delivered to various locations from July 1, 2019 through September 30, 2019.

The Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helped businesses earn over $79 million in government contracts during 2018. Nearly 400 jobs in the northwest Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula were created or sustained due to those client contract award dollars.

The Northwest Michigan PTAC is based in Traverse City and serves businesses in the northwest Lower Peninsula and the entire Upper Peninsula. The PTAC provides no-cost technical consulting, training, and marketing services aimed at assisting companies with obtaining and performing under local, state, and federal contracts. PTAC’s services include personalized one-on-one counseling, bid match notifications, contracting and subcontracting assistance, pre- and post-award assistance, and more. PTAC offers assistance through all stages of government contracting.

This procurement technical assistance center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency. This PTAC is funded in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and is hosted by Networks Northwest. To learn more about PTAC’s services, visit

Northwest Michigan PTAC Client Recognized as Michigan's Government Contractor of the Year

(March 2019)

Dave Goudreau started Northern Wings in 2001 as an aircraft wheel and brake repair shop in a pole barn in Engadine, Michigan. Over the years the business has evolved and is now an aerospace and military support system based in a custom-built facility in Newberry.

“We take it from top to bottom,” said Goudreu. “We can assist you in any measure of maintenance, repair, supply chain, etcetera. We’ll import/export, we’ll manage your repairs, we’ll manufacture parts. We deliver them on time, on target, regardless of where you are in the world.”

Goudreau says starting and growing Northern Wings would have been “virtually impossible” without the assistance of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). His first connection to the PTAC was through a series of seminars when he was starting the business. Since then Northern Wings has received technical assistance from the PTAC and has been involved with government contract training on a variety of topics including cybersecurity and ITAR.

“I don’t know that there are very many employees here who haven’t been touched by some level of PTAC training and/or orientation,” said Goudreau.

“They take advantage of all the PTAC services that we have,” said Don Makowski, Northwest Michigan PTAC Procurement Counselor. “Any trainings we have here in the Upper Peninsula you can normally find a Northern Wings company representative there. Actually, I’ve had one of their representatives help teach a class before.”

“I always relate it to learning a different language and a different culture,” said Goudreau. “There’s only one way to do it and that’s go to the PTAC and learn how to speak their language.”

The success they’ve had as a business and their work with the PTAC has earned Northern Wings recognition as Michigan’s Government Contractor of the Year.

“They’ve given back to the community,” said Makowski. “They’ve received numerous awards, which they’ve deserved. But also they have members that sit on boards for Michigan Works. They’ve participated in our PTAC’s of Michigan events by sitting on panel discussions. And they’re always there to give a helping hand whenever asked.”

“It means a lot, and it’s primarily for the employees,” said Goudreau. “It kind of shows that, as we call it, we’re the anomaly in the wilderness, and that we can succeed.”

"The U.P. wilderness holds lots of wonders including small businesses with big dreams and big successes. So much so that we recently added a second counselor to the U.P.,” said Cathy Fairbanks, Northwest Michigan PTAC Program Manager. “We’re proud to play a small part in Northern Wing’s success.  I often hold them up as an example of how to be successful in the government marketplace. It does take the commitment to “learn a new language.” But our most successful clients learn that language, take advantage of our many services, and stay involved with the PTAC.”


Special Recognition for Northwest Michigan PTAC Procurement Counselor

(January 2019)

A Northwest Michigan PTAC procurement counselor has received special recognition from the Wisconsin Procurement Institute (WPI). Don Makowski received the WPI’s Silent Partner Award in recognition of his passions, dedication, and commitment to the development of the federal contracting community. Makowski received the award at the End of Year Federal Contractor Update in Milwaukee. The award acknowledges the several dozen government contracting events the Northwest Michigan PTAC and the WPI have collaborated on over the past eight years. The PTAC and WPI have more training events scheduled to work on together during 2019.  






Northwest Michigan PTAC Director Receives Defense Industry Award

(November 2018)

The Director of the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) has been recognized for her work with the defense industry. Cathy Fairbanks (center in photo) received the 2018 Women in Defense (WID) Michigan Chapter Horizon Industry Award. The award was presented at the organization’s Annual Black Tie Gala, November 9 in Rochester, Michigan.

Fairbanks was nominated for the Horizon Award by General Dynamics Land Systems for her work in business development. She co-chaired an Industry Day that brought together all the Michigan PTACs and General Dynamics’ ten business units so they could meet and network with defense industry suppliers, buyers, and customers.

In the award nomination, General Dynamics officials said because of the industry day there will be increased spending in Michigan, bringing more awareness to Michigan suppliers and the various industries in this state.

Women in Defense (WID) Michigan Chapter, A National Security Organization, is a non-profit professional networking and development organization for women and men across Michigan who contribute to national defense and security. Formed in 2007, the Michigan Chapter seeks to strengthen and influence the defense and national security industry by inspiring women, cultivating leadership, and growing professional relationships.

The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) provides no fee assistance to businesses interested in doing business with state and federal government agencies. The mission of the PTAC is to enhance national defense and the economic development of the State of Michigan by helping area business secure local, state, and federal government contracts.

The Northwest Michigan PTAC is a program of Networks Northwest and serves the entire Upper Peninsula and 10 counties in the Northwest Lower Peninsula. The Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency and in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Fresh Baby Selected as Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2017

(March 2018)

Fresh Baby is a Petoskey based nutrition education products company working with public health programs throughout the U.S. Company Founder and CEO, Cheryl Tallman, started the business in 2002 after other parents asked her about the baby food she was making for her son.

“I decided to create a baby food kit and show other parents how to make baby food…and I started selling it” said Tallman.

She initially targeted retailers. That began to change when she received calls from some USDA WIC clinics, a federally funded nutrition program offering assistance to mothers and young children.

“They were interested in buying our products,” said Tallman. “That was interesting to me.  I thought well there’s a market.”

Tallman made that first government sale but says she didn’t really know anything about doing business with the government and wanted to learn more. She had the opportunity to do that in 2011 when she attended a PTAC Government Contracting Seminar and began working with the PTAC.

“It’s been an amazing support group to rely on and work with us,” said Tallman. “They’re truly a partner for us.”

With PTAC’s research support and other services, Fresh Baby discovered a number of government programs that procure their products. Fresh Baby has grown their government sales from a few thousand dollars in 2011 to over $2 Million in 2017.

“In government contracting…you can go down a lot of rabbit holes and it’s extremely time consuming,” said Tallman. “One of the things that PTAC does for us is…they go down them for us and they’re a lot more efficient at it because they’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Fresh Baby’s success with government contracts has earned them recognition as the Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year.  Tallman says they’re honored to receive the recognition. She says PTAC’s support is helping Fresh Baby with their mission to reduce U.S. obesity rates by developing products that make healthy food and drink choices the easy choices.

“They’ve certainly been a strategic partner for us that has allowed us to focus on selling our products with their support and input,” said Tallman. “They’ve kind of kept us on a nice path to success.”

Cyber Compliance

Recently, the Colorado PTAC and Colorado's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Manufacturer's Edge, hosted a nationwide broadcast which provided a deep dive into DFARS 252.204-7012 cyber compliance. 

One of the speakers on that panel was Michael G. Semmens, CEO of Imprimis, Inc. He spoke on understanding the cyber threat and best practices; and reviewed the subparts, clauses and provisions called for by DFARS 252.204-7012.

This short, educational video presented by Mr. Semmens details the process of achieving compliance with the cybersecurity DFARS and NIST 800-171. This video is not a product pitch. It is provided in hopes of keeping the educational process energized.



L'Anse Manufacturing Selected as Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2016
(February 2017)

L’Anse Manufacturing is a precision machining company with a low volume, high mix approach and a special interest in projects with tight tolerances. Their primary markets are investment casting machining, light industrial manufacturers, and specialty products including medical, aerospace, and the military.

Even though they work with a variety of customers, after the recession in 2008 and 09, L’Anse Manufacturing saw the need to diversify. They started looking at government contracts and received assistance from the Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

“We started with L’Anse Manufacturing early on in their government contract stages,” said Don Makowski, PTAC Procurement Counselor. “Starting with training their staff, attending our training events, and all the way through finding government opportunities and responding to those opportunities.”

“They allowed my crew to design their future,” said Mark Massicotte, L’Anse Manufacturing President. “When they needed help they picked up a phone and there was a resource.”

Massicotte says the assistance from PTAC has helped L’Anse Manufacturing land government contracts that have been instrumental in the company’s progress over the past few years.

“We’re really hitting a very good spot,” said Massicotte. “We got a large contract in 2016. We also at the end of the year got our first five-year contract.”

The work they're doing has earned L’Anse Manufacturing recognition as the Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year.

“L’Anse Manufacturing is a prime example of the correct steps to take as far as succeeding in government contracting,” said Makowski. “They took each step as part of the process which started out with smaller government contracts and worked up to larger government contracts.”

“PTAC is a wonderful thing, but it’s the individual people in PTAC that really bring the success forward,” said Massicotte. “So when it’s time, step forward, and you’ll find it a very rewarding investment in your time.”




Armor Express Selected as Michigan’s Government Contractor of the Year 2015
(March 2016)

Most businesses would never dream of firing bullets into their products. But at Armor Express in Central Lake that’s exactly what they do to test their products. Armor Express manufactures body armor used by law enforcement and the military.

“Armor Express saves lives by producing soft concealable and tactical body armor that is bullet resistant,” said Todd Olson, Director of Contracts at Armor Express. “We protect anybody that would be in harm’s way.”

Armor Express designs, tests, and manufactures their body armor in Central Lake and sells their products around the world. The company’s customers include federal law enforcement agencies like the DEA, FBI, and US Marshals, and branches of the U.S. military, including the Air Force, Army, and Navy.

“Government business is very important because it includes the federal law enforcement all the way through the military, so it’s a significant piece of business for Armor Express,” said Olson.

To help with their efforts to do business with the government, Armor Express has developed an ongoing relationship with the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center or PTAC.

“The PTAC is always there for us whenever we have any questions,” said Olson. Whether it is getting registered, filling out a proposal, understanding price histories, and then all the way through contract performance.”

“Through their experience with the PTAC Armor Express was able to be awarded a GSA Schedule Contract and that’s been very lucrative for them,” said Anne Helbig, Northwest Michigan PTAC Program Director. “They were able to utilize that experience and start to pursue larger contract opportunities.”

Armor Express’s success with government contracts and its ongoing work with the PTAC have earned the company recognition as Michigan’s Government Contractor of the Year.

“They’re an important company to our region,” said Helbig. “They produce something that saves lives. To have something like that made here in northern Michigan is really something that we should all be proud of.”

“To know that we’re doing a significant part of our business with the Federal government and be recognized for it is very important,” said Olson. “Not only to us at the management level but to the people that work down at the plant. They know that they’re putting body armor on the people who protect and serve us.”




Oldenburg Group Selected as PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2014
(May 2015)

The Oldenburg Group has facilities in Iron River, Kingsford, and Ontonagon and does a lot of business with the U.S. Navy. Oldenburg has been assisted in its government contracting efforts by the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). For their dedication and superb history in government contracting, the company has been named the Michigan Government Contractor of the Year. Watch the video to find out more.




Great Openings Selected as PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2013
(January 2014)

Great Openings has been manufacturing metal office furniture filing cabinets and desking products since 1966 and operates plants in Ludington and Manistee. The family-run company sells products to office furniture dealers and major office furniture contract companies like Steelcase, Trendway, and American Seating. Part of Great Opening’s sales also comes from government contracts, a market they have been in since 2005.

“When the economy goes into a recession, not necessarily the government will go into the same recession as the general economy,” said Steve Paine, Great Openings corporate principal. “It’s been a plus over the last few years to be able to have those additional sales.”

When Great Openings started doing business with the government they turned to the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center to help them navigate through the government contract process. PTAC services to Great Openings have included bid matching and helping the company understand Federal Acquisition Regulations.

“They’ve also helped us with sales reporting to be able to get some baseline metrics established so that we can see how we’re doing compared to our competitors with government sales,” said Paine.

“They’ve worked with us extensively attending trainings and having private counseling to really understand how the entire process works, especially with their GSA schedule contract,” said Anne Helbig, Northwest Michigan PTAC program director.

About 10 percent of Great Opening’s business now comes from government contracts.

The company has also received the U.S. General Services Administration Evergreen Award for demonstrating a strong commitment to the environment. The work they are doing with government contracts has earned Great Openings recognition as the Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year.

“I think they’re another testament to how our resources can better prepare a business to operate successfully in the government market,” said Helbig.

“Things change rapidly in the government arena and you need to stay on top of them,” said Paine. “The PTAC has done a good job of keeping us up with all of the current changes in the government.”




Two Upper Peninsula Companies Featured in Deana Vitale's Article on Contract Management

For nearly three decades, PTACs have been walking small businesses through the aisles of government contracting. This free assistance has not only paid off for small business owners, but has delivered capable suppliers to government contracting officers and federal primes. See article.


GLSV Selected as Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year 2012

GLSV in Houghton, Michigan is an engineering company that offers a broad range of design, manufacturing and testing services. Assistance from the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) has helped GLSV land new government contracts and grants. The work they're doing has earned GLSV recognition as the Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year; they are also in the running for statewide recognition. Watch the video to find out more.For more information about GLSV visit,



Exhaust ducts for helicopters, silencers for turbines on Navy ships, and after market suspension products for snowmobiles. Those are just a few examples of the types of things that are designed, manufactured and tested at GLSV in Houghton, Michigan.

Steve Polakowski started the company in 1996 in his garage with a focus on solving problems related to sound and vibration. Now GLSV is housed in a 15,000 square foot facility where they take on engineering, testing and manufacturing projects ranging from small parts to large vehicles and equipment.

"We do the hard things to do, the things that others have failed at," said Polakowski. We use creativity, innovation and all these awesome tools to tackle those types of very difficult problems."

Click for photo gallery.Polakowski says GLSV tackles those problems with a well trained staff, state of the art equipment and hi-end computer software. They've even created a specialized sound room they use for acoustic tests.

"This is an environment that enables us to make a simplified set of measurements and understand more complex aspects of sound propagation," said Polakowski.

Click on photos for Photo Gallery >>>


GLSV's capabilities allow them to work on a variety of commercial and government projects. In 2011 they had an opportunity to attend a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Industry Day held for Marinette Marine. The connections they made at that event have helped GLSV land more government contracts.

"They learned about the quality requirements to work for the government and the military and ever since then they've been an active participant in our PTAC programs and they've had success procuring Naval and government work," said Don Makowski, Northwest Michigan PTAC Procurement Counselor.

"The PTAC helped us make contact with other government agencies that helped us become ISO certified," said Polakowski. "That's a critical part in order to continue doing government contracting."

Besides helping GLSV get its ISO Certification the PTAC also helped the company win some Small Business Innovative Research Program grants that are being used for a couple of different projects including the development of an active exhaust noise cancellation system. With the grants and some new government contracts GLSV has added eleven employees in the past year. The work they're doing has earned GLSV recognition as the Northwest Michigan PTAC Government Contractor of the Year.

"GLSV is a good example of taking advantage of PTAC resources and they show the importance of networking," said Makowski.

"I would encourage people who aren't working with  the PTAC to participate," said Polakowski. "You get a whole new education and you start to learn the tips and tricks."


Frontier US

Northwest Michigan PTAC Client, Frontier Computer Corporation, has been awarded its first government contract.  The award was made from the United States Marine Corp. for Microsoft Licensing under NAICS Code 511210. Frontier is a supplier of new and refurbished IT hardware. Frontier has worked with the PTAC to identify opportunity within the government market place and to understand the regulations involved in government contracting. Frontier has attended numerous seminars and events on Federal Contracting basics and Market Research and worked with the NW Michigan PTAC on several market research projects. Frontier’s road to success began when they created a “Government Sales Division” in a targeted initiative to generate government sales. Frontier has also secured its HUBZone Certification, something Frontier credits, in part, for their receiving their recent Marine Corps contract. A press release issued from Frontier announcing their recent award can be accessed here.

Cadillac Fabrication/Yard King

The flash flood season at Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico required removal of the bridge from the parking lot to the picnic area. Peak visitor season was ramping up and maintenance crews needed access to clean up flood debris in the picnic area.  Long time PTAC client Cadillac Fabrication/Yard King, Inc. of Cadillac Michigan solved the problem by building a temporary steel bridge 12 feet wide and 65 feet long. To meet a tight time frame for delivery and installation Cadillac Fabrication Sales Executive Mike Gibbons worked with the contracting officer for their GSA Schedule. The bridge was added to their schedule in record time. Ordering through a GSA Schedule allowed Bandelier to get the bridge on site much faster than issuing a solicitation. Mike managed transportation arrangements and DOT permits for getting the oversize load from Michigan to New Mexico. He also found a crane and operator to do the installation at Bandelier. 

Glen Simpson, Bandelier Chief of Facility Management commented, “Everything went like clockwork yesterday. The spanner looks great. We are already using it. Thanks for the great job on the ramps.”

Check out the May 21-25, 2012 Bandelier Facebook page for comments and pictures






B&P Manufacturing - Contractor of the Year 2011

B&P Manufacturing has been selected as Michigan's Government Contractor of the Year and will receive the award at the Michigan Celebrates Small Business event May 3 in Lansing. B&P was nominated by the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and was one of 11 businesses in the running for the statewide award.

“B&P Manufacturing is a true PTAC success story and a success story for northern Michigan businesses," said Anne Helbig, PTAC program director. "They've been awarded nearly $30 million in government contracts, have added 10 new employees since 2009, and may add more employees in the near future."

B&P Manufacturing is an aluminum fabrication company known for its high quality material handling equipment. In recent years the company has also been making aluminum containers for the U.S. military. B&P's efforts to land more and larger government contracts have received a boost from PTAC.

“As a small northern Michigan business, B&P Manufacturing is both honored and pleased to be named as Michigan’s Government Contractor of the Year for 2012. The Northwest Michigan PTAC has provided assistance in our pursuit of Government contracts and we continue to work with them as we look for new opportunities in the future,” said Lia Krantz Lipar, B&P Manufacturing's director of military sales & contracts.

The Michigan Celebrates Small Business (MCSB) event is an annual awards program created by five founding organizations to recognize the importance of successful small businesses across the state. MCSB honors those businesses and their supporters who greatly contribute to the overall growth of Michigan's economy.


The Northwest Michigan PTAC is a program of the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (NWMCOG) and provides no fee assistance to businesses interested in doing business with state and federal government agencies.

This Procurement Technical Assistance Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency. This PTAC is funded in part by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), and is hosted by Networks Northwest. 


Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.

Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission