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December 24, 2018 Issue



Q&A with Wilbert Johnson, CEO of Cetechs providing Strategic Staffing Solutions to Government Agencies fulfilling Workforce demands in Healthcare, Engineering, Program Management, Administrative and Budgeting programs



Wilbert Johnson

Chief Executive Officer



Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – December 24, 2018


CEOCFO: Mr. Johnson, according to your site, Cetechs is a strategic staffing and workforce solutions firm. Would you explain “strategic”?

Mr. Johnson: Strategically, we have chosen to focus on providing government support services. We provide a wide range of skill sets including program management, administrative, budgeting, program analysts, program management, engineering, public health, and medical services. We look at opportunities where the government has these workforce needs and design a plan and solution to help meet these requirements. Typically, the support requirements with the government is anywhere from a one-year to five-years in term. We tend to stay away from the strategic temporary staffing space, with those placement terms of three to six months assignments. We look for long term solutions, to provide alternate means of workforce augmentation to the federal government.


CEOCFO: What goes into understanding what an agency really needs and what the culture is of the given organization you are working with?

Mr. Johnson: We like to have as much background information on the term requirement, including as much information about the past requirements and performance, generally referencing any company that provided this service prior to us coming aboard. We try to reach out to find as much information as we can relevant to the customer and any pain points while servicing the contract; trying to account for that up front allows for a smooth transition, making sure we do not encounter those types of road blocks during service.


CEOCFO: Are tech people looking to work for government today?

Mr. Johnson: There is a lot of competition. The hardest part is making sure your personnel want to work for your firm, that they are happy with the benefits, salaries and services that you provide, because in this world, a lot of our employees or candidates leave you for fifty cents or a dollar an hour more. You must make sure that you are compensating them well, they have good pay packages, and they believe in the services that you are providing to your customers.


CEOCFO: Would you talk about the different areas you work with the government, particularly areas you might prefer over others given a choice? How do you decide what projects to bid on?

Mr. Johnson: We have a strategic plan in place where we try to not load our work share in one support area more heavily than another. We provide service in engineering, administrative, program management, and on the clinical and public healthcare sides; we try to split the work share equally so that if one area is a little low, we are accounting for it in the other service line. Sometimes we have more engineering procurement than we do on the healthcare side but then sometimes we have more program management in administration than we do on the engineering or healthcare side; we try and stay in front of the ball for even distribution.


CEOCFO: How do you reach candidates?

Mr. Johnson: We have various platforms that we utilize for recruitment; some are paid and some are free. We also have widgets integrated into our website where all our open jobs are posted on our website as well. We also do a lot with referrals from previous candidates and employees; referrals are a great tool to utilize especially when you treat your employees well.


CEOCFO: Are you paying these people or are the agencies paying?

Mr. Johnson: We do not do staffing or contract work. These people are employees of Cetechs and we provide the service to the government agencies. These people are not temporary staff or employees for the government; they are full time employees for Cetechs, while we provide service to the federal government.


CEOCFO: How does that work out in the actual workplace? Is there friction between people in one location that are actually employed by the government compared to someone from the outside?

Mr. Johnson: This is something that we educate our employees on but since most of our employees are contractors, and have been contractors at different government facilities, they understand how it works and they are not to be treated as government employees because they are employees of Cetechs. They understand the difference between the two, and that all the direction comes from Cetechs even though they are working at various sites at government facilities. They are there to perform the tasks required, not to manage or supervise government employees.


CEOCFO: How do you assess what is happening at a given workplace when you are not on premise?

Mr. Johnson: We have project managers that manage sites where we have a large employee count and then the sites where we have a low employee count, we have leads that report back to us on any issues. Typically, we have direct lines of communication from our project managers to the VP of Operations and myself.


CEOCFO: How long has Cetechs been around?

Mr. Johnson: We started the company in 2009.


CEOCFO: What has changed over time and what do you do better today than you might have done back then?

Mr. Johnson: I understand how the landscape and how government contracting works. I think at the beginning I did not understand all the little nuances. Now as I have been supporting federal facilities for almost ten years, I understand the power in some of the things you need to do to be able to win work where I did not understand in the beginning. It is growth in terms of how to win work and how to service and deal with your customers.


CEOCFO: What is your geographic range?

Mr. Johnson: We cover all the states in the continental United States right now.


CEOCFO: What do you bring from your army experience?

Mr. Johnson: I bring management, diligence, perseverance and the ability to understand to a certain degree how the government operates, although it operates a little bit differently as I have learned over time than when I was active duty. It is a different part of government. I do understand the lingo, so dealing with the personnel in the military, army, air force, navy, national guards and coast guard helps.


CEOCFO: Business is going well as you were recognized on the Inc 500. How do you maintain the trajectory?  What is your strategy?

Mr. Johnson: Our strategy is to continue to diversify and have as many abilities to compete for a government contract. They have what they call IDIQs which are contracts where they have a need and they can go procure off it, but what a lot of companies fail to realize is you have to build up your experience in past performance to be able to get on these contracts. We have been building up our contract past performance of the past years and now we are starting to apply for a lot of these IDIQ mass schedules and we should be able to capture a lot more business that way. Our trajectory is a plan to increase going forward because we have more abilities to compete on contracts.


CEOCFO: What is important for you when you are hiring people over and above the technical skills?

Mr. Johnson: I look for the diligence, drive, interpersonal skills, and that fire to want to do a good job.


CEOCFO: Can you tell when you talk to someone if they have it?

Mr. Johnson: I am not going to say it is a hundred percent of the time because I’m not a psychic, but I think sixty to seventy percent of the time I could tell. Sometimes you can do all the betting at the beginning but when you actually get a person on site, personalities and things like that just do not click and sometimes their true nature comes out, so sometimes we can get it wrong, but we try not to. That is why it is almost imperative that you verify all references and not just references from peers but references from superiors, supervisors and managers.


CEOCFO: Are you able to get the references you need? Are some companies leery of saying something negative?

Mr. Johnson: We have a couple challenges when it comes to getting people to respond at all and getting actual data that you can utilize to help decide. Sometimes it is a challenge but at the end of the day, we must find out history on our candidates, so we must go through and vet references and we must vet at least three.


CEOCFO: Why choose Cetechs?

Mr. Johnson: We care about customer service and one thing that we pride ourselves on is making sure we are standing contact with our customers, insuring that they are getting great customer service and getting what they paid for.



“We care about customer service and one thing that we pride ourselves on is making sure we are standing contact with our customers, insuring that they are getting great customer service and getting what they paid for.”
- Wilbert Johnson











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