Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive July 2016 Show 1631 Carter Merkle - The Right Connection

Carter Merkle - The Right Connection

The Indian Country Business Summit allows businesses to network with and learn from each other to find opportunities in government contracting.
Carter Merkle - The Right Connection

Carter Merkle - The Right Connection

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Show Details

Show 1631: The Right Connection
Air Date: July 31, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, it pays to live in a native state when it comes to government contracting, and you don’t have to be Native American to benefit from it. Earlier, the head of Oklahoma’s Business Assistance Network joined me in studio to talk about an upcoming summit that can show you how you can get involved.

Rob McClendon: So, Carter, tell me: Exactly what is the ICBS Show?

Carter Merkle: This is a conference, a business conference that we began 10 years ago that just is a way to come together for businesses to learn and to network with each other to find opportunities. We called it Indian Country Business Summit and called it that for many, many years. Very recently we changed that to ICBS Show, in part because we were hearing from people that they did not think they were qualified to come because they were not Indian. But given that we wanted to make sure that people knew that they were welcome no matter what their ownership was, in government contracting, especially in federal contracting, there is an importance to state your ownership as to minority-owned, disadvantaged-owned, which can even be geographical areas such as a HUBZone Program, which encourages more business in areas that were historically underutilized. And all of our Indian nations, all of our former Indian lands are designated as HUBZones. So there’s a lot of significance related to doing business in Indian Country and doing business with native nations. There are many advantages just in combining or teaming with a native business, so there was a lot of significance in that and the two organizations putting this on wanted to emphasize that in the beginning.

Rob: In general, talk to me about what type of money we’re talking about when it comes to government contracts.

Merkle: Well, government contracts, the marketplace is in the billions. The federal government alone spends something like $5 billion just out here at Tinker. And so it is a huge marketplace that includes everything from manufacturing airplanes, which not very many companies do, to managing buildings and parks and all kinds of services. So it’s a big field, and there’s not very many businesses in existence that doesn’t have some opportunity there.

Rob: So have there been some success stories that have come out of this conference?

Merkle: Absolutely, a year ago, actually two years ago now, we have a client in Duncan, a manufacturer, Duncan Machine Products, who was unable to come to the conference but whose OBAN coordinator came and had them in mind and what they do, and they were questioning where they could sell, where they could sell because they were, like most manufacturing, most machine shops in Oklahoma, they relied heavily on the energy industry, and they knew that was a little unsafe. So their coordinator talked to a prime contractor at our show, BAE Systems, who she knew was ramping up to build a tank down at Elgin. And they said, yes, we are looking for some local manufacturers who can do what they call rework – they get parts in, and they’re not quite right, and they need someone to finish the product. And so she got them in touch with them, got the two together, and within about six months they were getting orders from BAE Systems and turning them around in a matter of a few days. BAE Systems was quite impressed with that, and they have been successful at that ever since.

Rob: Certainly, certainly, and again, if someone wants to register for this show at the end of August, that’s, and then they can find out more about the OBAN group at

Merkle: That’s right.

Rob: All right. Carter, thank you so much.

Merkle: Thank you.