Tinker Business & Industrial Park

Tinker Business & Industrial Park
2601 Liberty Parkway
Midwest City, OK 73110

Located just across from

Tinker Air Force Base!

Call 405-733-4949

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Startup Firm Comanche Engineering Growing at TBIP | Posted 03/23/2007

Some acorns grow into trees faster than others. In the case of Comanche Engineering, a year-old company whose focus is the application of lean concepts to business, supply chain management processes and business operations, a one-two-three punch seems to be providing just the right formula for growth.

That formula consists of the leadership of the company's founder and President, David Orme, its incubation as a portfolio company of enterprise development firm Acorn Growth Companies, and its location in the Midwest City "hub" for high-tech companies, Tinker Business & Industrial Park.

Orme, a former Lucent Technologies vice president, opted for early retirement and made a decision to start his engineering services company when the Oklahoma City Lucent plant was purchased by Celestica. At that time, Orme said he saw an opportunity to stand up a business with a focus market on the Department of Defense and Tinker Air Force Base, not only for himself, but for other engineers who were similarly situated and wanted to stay in Oklahoma as the Lucent doors closed.

As a result, Orme said that he has a network of about 20 colleagues, representing his affiliations with other former Lucent employees who have either retired or have started their own companies and are willing to work as contract engineers. "It is important to retain those high quality, high paying jobs in Oklahoma," Orme observed.

Many companies are looking to "lean out" their organizations, Orme said. Lean manufacturing is a business approach to reducing waste and streamlining operations, allowing companies to provide results such as higher quality, faster delivery and lower prices, and thereby rendering the company more competitive.

Utilizing lean concepts, Orme explained that Comanche Engineering can provide a targeted improvement achievement of 20-40 percent in their supply chain management and other business or industry operations and processes. "That is a conservative estimate," he commented.

Comanche Engineering is a Native American owned, Small Business Administration (SBA) certified small business, and also boasts HUBZone status as a result of being an Acorn portfolio company. The minority, small business, and HUBZone designations allow government and industry customers who do business with the government the ability to meet key purchasing mandates.

And, while many small business start-ups do not survive that critical first year of operations, Orme commented that has been able to take advantage of incubator services as an Acorn affiliate. "The key is not the capability, but marketing and selling the service," he explained. "Plus, the selling cycle for defense is long — much longer than for commercial business."

In his first year of operations, Orme remarked that he has learned "a ton," particularly on the sales and the commercial side of business. "Opportunities come in places you don't always expect," he said. "I didn't anticipate a need for mechanical contractors, for example, but now we are doing some work in HVAC. It's not a focus, but it is an opportunity and we're making adjustments as we learn more and are presented with more opportunities."

Specific to Tinker Air Force Base and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center (OC/ALC), the recent award of a multi-million dollar "transformation" contract will create additional business possibilities, Orme said. The contract presents opportunities for working with the commodities team on processes relating to supply chain provisioning materials to support Tinker, for example.

"As Tinker 'leans' out, the supply chain is not currently capable of supporting lean objectives. There is no doubt that the supply chain will be the bottleneck," he explained. "Therefore, they may look to improvement projects to support this effort."

Acorn Growth Companies is a private, enterprise development firm and business incubator that accelerates the growth and evolution of small, niche-specific companies. Acorn's three-pronged incubation strategy includes a sense of place, best of breed support and capital infusion.

One of the nation's first, and Oklahoma's only "sector specific" business parks, Tinker Business & Industrial Park is the largest concentration of high-tech companies anywhere in the State of Oklahoma.