Carl Seastrand, a former friend and shipmate, and I started Quality Innovative Solutions, Inc.®, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern (SDVO SBC), a California corporation in the office of Watkins Firm in San Diego, CA on July 9th, 2004. dba QI-Solutions® was born with a swearing in of the Board of Directors, drafting our Articles of Incorporation, bylaws, meeting minutes, getting into Central Contractor Registration (now SAM), identifying NAICS codes, and completing other documentation that I had no clue even existed.
We started toying with the idea in March of 2004. We would spend our nights dreaming and drinking beer at the Texas Cattle Company in Camarillo, CA. We would sit and weigh the risks of striking out on our own, mapping out a plan on any available napkin. We spent a week just trying to come up with a company name. We spent even longer developing our logo and outsourcing our first product. From that time, even until now, we concentrated on making this business work.
I quit a well-paying job with a respected government contractor on Tuesday 31 August 2004 with little fanfare and started my new job the following day as the President and CEO, and the single employee in our new office at 1300 West Gonzales Rd. Suite 203, Oxnard CA 93036, just down the street from my previous company.
When I opened the front door to my new office that day I noticed something. There sitting on my desk was a bottle of champagne with a balloon flying above it saying "CONGRATULATIONS". Besides it was a black plastic lunch pail with a note attached that said,
“Here’s a little something for lunch and dinner just in case Marcia cuts off your allowance! I Applaud your strength in stepping out on this journey with me. Here’s to a new beginning and a bright future. Your friend, Carl Seastrand”.
The weight of my decision sunk in and at that very moment I said a prayer that I would never have to use Carl’s gift, but if I did to remember this was a journey I chose.
Our entry as entrepreneurs was the start of what we hoped would be a long line of military contracts to come across our threshold. We found out quickly thereafter that we were not as smart as we thought we were, but we still did a lot of “firsts” that year. We hired our financial analyst, Teresa Carpenter, who through thick and thin is still with us today. We were able to receive the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) agreement letter proving our ability to manage and execute cost plus contracts. We received our facility clearance, and we won a multiple award Navy contract called Seaport Enhanced (Seaport-e). We were approved through the IRS to set up our S-Corporation structure from 30 June to 1 July. We found a local CPA to help us complete and understand our tax obligation. We hired consultants, advisors and attended SBA, PTAC, courses of instruction and private seminars to shorten our learning curve and ensure our legal and regulatory compliance. We chose our bank and banker. We prostrated ourselves and our families’ personal assets feeling confident that we were capable of dealing with the unknowns that lay just beyond the horizon. We never looked back.
In 2006 we opened our second office in Virginia Beach. We flew out Les Wood, who was instrumental in developing, installing, and testing our collaborative network in both locations. However, this one was special because it represented tangible growth in the company. We quickly landed another subcontract with a very established company at our new office location. We still cherish that relationship today.
Over the years we have learned how to compete aggressively and not only win new work, but also win existing work back. Our customers believe in us and we strive to conduct ourselves in a value-added manner ensuring that our 130+ employees appreciate the perseverance it takes to live up to our tag line “Anticipating Needs… Exceeding Expectations”.
With growth comes changes, and in 2011 we had outgrown our corporate office we started this journey in. We moved to 1741 Ives Ave, Suite B, Oxnard, CA 93033. Today we have a tested facility clearance, and have had multiple government audits from DCAA, DCMA, and IRS, because according to them "it was just our turn". Each audit resulting in determining that our processes are solid and accurate.
Our retention rate has never dropped below 86% even during times when our employees were insourced by the Government, sequestration, or when the work was redistributed from contract recompetes. We have weathered many storms during our tenure in business only because we were and remain prepared. Our infrastructure knowledge is key to our success and our ability to hold our own with our large and small business partners have proven itself time and again. We are getting stronger and it shows in our ability to win even bigger contracts than in the past.
QI-Solutions® has earned many recognitions and awards from DiversityBusiness.com, Inc. 5000, Inner City 100, the ESGR Patriotic Employer award, the US Navy Reserve Outstanding Employer Support award, and many others. We continue to receive increased visits, phone calls, and invitations to join in new business ventures with our industry partners and support our Government customers. As we continue to grow we can remember where we started and find gratitude in the journey, the customers, and the team members who make us who we are today.
Mr. Mullins has over 40 years of experience including a U.S. Naval career spanning almost 30 years. Beginning his career as a deck seaman and later striking as a Torpedoman on the USS Marvin Shields (FF1066), advancing rapidly to CPO and later selected as an LDO. His most significant assignments were Electronics Maintenance Officer and Command Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence (C41) Officer for Commander for the USS Nimitz Battle Group, USS John F. Kennedy Project Officer and Ship's Battle Force Action Officer for USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln while stationed at NSWC Port Hueneme Division, Port Hueneme, CA.
He retired from the Navy in 2001 after which he served as a Senior Project Engineer/Director of Warfare System Integration, for CACI, a defense contractor. In 2004, Mr. Mullins co-founded Quality Innovative Solutions, Inc.®. He provides customized innovative solutions through research, assessments and analysis, systems engineering and integration, test and evaluation, modeling and simulation with expertise in distributed simulation, training and logistics, computer HW/SW installation, and program or project management and acquisition services.
Mr. Mullins received a Bachelor of Science degree from Chapman University in 1993 while in the Navy. He is a member of the Oxnard Noontimers Lion's Club, I.E.E.E. Computer Society, ASQ and NCMA. Mr. Mullins resides in Camarillo, California, with his wife, Marcia. In his spare time, he enjoys singing, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.
Mr. Seastrand is the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Quality Innovative Solutions, Inc.®. He brings over twenty-four years of experience, and served in the US Navy for fourteen of those years. During his naval career he spent time on the USS Fletcher, USS Ford, and USS Lake Champlain. As a Chief Operations Specialist he brings a wealth of knowledge in fleet combat systems training and support. After his naval career, Mr. Seastrand honed his skills in both project and program management before co-founding Quality Innovative Solutions, Inc.® in 2004. Mr. Seastrand is an avid member of Vistage, the Association of Government Accountants (AGA), The Society of Industrial Security Professionals (NCMS), and the National Contracts Management Association (NCMA). Mr. Seastrand resides in Menifee, CA with his wife Tami. In his spare time, he enjoys playing an active role in his church and spending time with family.