By Noah Robins, SBTDC/PTAC counselor at Western Carolina University
Helen Robinson Design is a graphic design firm located in Asheville, North Carolina. The founder and owner, Helen Robinson, has a broad-ranging background in fine art, publishing, photography, exhibit design and advertising who says that she “fell into” graphic design through an internship at a newspaper. Helen launched her own firm in 2009, focusing on graphic design and a diverse mix of her own interests and skill sets.
Soon after launching her company, Helen met with an SBTDC general business counselor in Asheville who referred Helen for PTAC assistance after hearing her interest in marketing to government agencies. There was a steep learning curve; as Helen puts it, “it takes awhile for the government market to really feel like it’s worth it.” PTAC assistance initially included training on government contracting requirements and processes, contract management principles, and hands-on help with locating, interpreting and pursuing bid opportunities. Through aggressive marketing, networking, and diligent attention to FedBizOpps, Helen located a bid opportunity with the USDA Forest Service’s Southern Research Station in Asheville. Former PTAC Counselor Clark Fields assisted the client with her bid for that opportunity, which proved to be successful. Since winning this first contract award in 2011, Helen has found a “sweet spot” providing graphic design services to Forest Service for their numerous publications; Helen has won several IDIQ contracts and numerous task orders. Recently, she bid on and won an additional IDIQ for the Northern Research Station to provide similar services for their offices.
Helen is candid about the initial difficulty of breaking into government contracting and the complexity of contract jargon. “Some of the language is so dreadful and difficult to parse – without the help of the local PTAC counselor, I would never even have pursued government contracting.” Helen’s most recent PTAC counselor, Noah Robins, has provided ongoing assistance with locating bid opportunities, preparing responsive proposals and quotes, and successfully pursuing business development program certifications including Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and HUBZone.
For more on Helen Robinson Design, visit http://www.helenrobinsondesign.com.