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B&D Consulting recognized as best tech services company

B&D's job is to take new technologies, find their vulnerabilities and design solutions to make them secure against hackers

August 13, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Jeffery D. Bearden operates B&D Consulting out of a suite of offices at Hagerstown Community College's Technical Innovation Center. The company was recognized in June by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development as the best technology services company at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

The cyber security and network engineering business Jeffery D. Bearden started in 2004 was a one-man operation headquartered in his living room.

Now, B&D Consulting operates out of a suite of offices at Hagerstown Community College's Technical Innovation Center.

The company was recognized in June by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development as the best technology services company at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards.

"My aunt was a programmer for NASA," said Bearden, a Mississippi native.

That sparked his interest enough for him to join the computer club at his school in ninth grade, he said.

Bearden, 35, spent six years in the Army, studying at the Army School of Computer Science and becoming an information systems operator, he said. With that experience under his belt, he struck out on his own.

"My first few months weren't pretty. I sold virtually everything to keep the company afloat," Bearden said.

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Within the first year, however, he landed his first sizable contract with Netconn Solutions in Hagerstown, he said.

B&D Consulting now has 28 employees, most of them working at client sites around the country, Bearden said. The company has been headquartered at the TIC for about 18 months, according to director Chris Marschner, who submitted the nomination for B&D.

"You really have to demonstrate a pretty strong commitment to growing the enterprise" to get nominated and earn the award, Marschner said.

The TIC helps young companies locate resources, access talent, build connections with organizations that can assist in their growth and with strategic planning, he said.

"We're a management consulting operation," Marschner said.

"One of the biggest selling points we have is I'm technical," Bearden said.

Instead of a businessman running a technology company, Bearden said potential clients meet with a president versed in the technology services his company has to offer.

"The award itself was definitely a delight ... It's the starting point of what we're trying to do," said Herbert Thompson, B&D's chief operations officer.

The company worked hard to get its Small Business Administration certification as an 8(a) small disadvantaged business in 2009, Vice President Kathy Gustafson said. That certification allowed it to compete against companies of similar size for set-aside contracts, she said.

The certification opened doors, but it was no guarantee of success, Bearden said.

"You still have to go out and compete," he said.

"Information warfare is the biggest threat we have. Our way of life is electronic," Bearden said of cyber security. "Your cell phone probably has more computing power than your old computer," he said.

That proliferation of communications and computer technology is a serious threat to governments and companies trying to protect sensitive information, Bearden said. While information has to be protected, it is of little use unless it can also be shared securely, he said.

"Every time you create a new access point, you create a new threat," Bearden said.

B&D's job is to take new technologies, find their vulnerabilities and design solutions to make them secure against hackers, he said.

"If it's going to fail, it's going to fail here first," Bearden said while at the Netconn Solutions computer laboratory, where B&D does much of its testing.

Since 1994, the TIC, the largest business incubator in Western Maryland, has helped more than 60 businesses create more than 300 jobs paying an average of about $50,000 a year, Marschner said. The TIC's goal is to help companies create high-technology, high-paying jobs, he said.

"We don't actually create them," Marschner said of the jobs. "It's the businesses that take all the risks."

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