#TBT – DoN OSBP: Over 60 Years of Supporting Small Business

By: Sarkis Tatigian


Mr. Sarkis Tatigian was selected to be the Assistant to the Small Business Specialist for the Bureau of Ordnance in October of 1951. His first assignment was to locate a tractor trailer from lists of Government surplus property, rehabilitate the trailer with naval ordnance components produced by small business concerns and travel throughout the Nation to increase awareness of contracting opportunities for small business. Armed with a project of order, including funds, Mr. Tatigian selected the Naval Gun Factory, located in the Washington Navy Yard, to rehabilitate the trailer and install a variety of components for undersea mines, rockets, guns and other ordnance items. He then prepared an itinerary for the tour to visit the capital of every state and every city with over 400,000 populations. The itinerary first covered the northern states of the Nation, returning through the central states to the east in December of 1952 and toured the southern states, terminating in San Francisco, CA on 23 April, 1953.


The 11 month tour of the red, white and blue Mobile Exhibit was launched in April of 1952 with nine members of the House Select Committee for Small Business and senior Navy officials in attendance. The crew for the tour consisted of a Navy Lieutenant as Mobile Exhibit Officer in charge and two enlisted personnel with a carry-all vehicle for distribution of pamphlets, gasoline generator and other paraphernalia to provide first-hand advisory assistance to visiting small businesses. Anchored on the starboard side of the trailer was a model of a cutaway World War II type torpedo with counter rotating propellers encased in plastic for safety. During the visits, the generator provided energy to operate the propellers which created an ominous resonance that attracted widespread visitor attention.


The Exhibit covered 14,457 highway miles and was visited by 46,810 people including seven Governors and 19 Mayors. The total cost of the Mobile Exhibit and Small Business Office salaries was $47,000. Eleven contracts were awarded to ten firms in FY 1953 based upon advertised invitations for bids (IFBs) alone sent by the Small Business Office. The total amount of awards to these firms exceeded $668,000 and the combined amount of the bids submitted by  the next lowest bidder was over $811,000. The difference of $143,000 exceeded the combined expense of the tour and the office salaries.




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