Small Business Stands Tall among Defense Contractors
Inducted in 2004
Things launched in Huntsville typically rocket forth from highly specialized testing facilities. By contrast, in 1980 COLSA Corporation took off in the garage of an ordinary Huntsville home, for an extraordinary ascent to the heights of the defense-contracting realm. Within seven years, this provider of electronic-engineering support to military and commercial clients had been named the nation’s best minority-owned high-tech firm. This was only one of many citations honoring the company started by Puerto Rican immigrants Francisco and Carmen Collazo.
One of the first small businesses to make the top 100 R&D/testing/evaluation firms nationally, COLSA Corporation now boasts 700 employees and $90 million annual revenue. It continues to forge a tradition of effective, inventive, and ethical service developing advanced technologies and high performance computer data centers for its clients. Since 1999 the company has held ISO 9001 certification. In 2000, it received an American Business Ethics Award, representing outstanding propagation of ethical standards in the business community.
COLSA Corporation is also greatly esteemed by its powerful and demanding clients. In 1988, it was named National Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year. This coveted recognition represents extraordinary accomplishment in discharging a variety of federal contracts. COLSA was the first contractor in the award’s history to be nominated independently by three distinct agencies: the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command (now SMDC), Army Missile Command (now AMCOM), and Army Air Defense Artillery School. In 1997, of the 11,500 defense contractors considered for the James S. Cogswell Award by the Defense Security Service, COLSA Corporation was one of only four firms in the Southeast and 50 nationwide to receive this prestigious award. The Cogswell Award represents sustained excellence in implementing the National Industrial Security Program and the consequent significant contribution to our national security.
Among other kudos of note, COLSA’s Property Management Team at the Army Advanced Research Center was distinguished in 2001 by a Silver Award from the Alabama Productivity Center. The Baldridge-based criteria for the award included nomination by a client, which the COLSA team earned by devising effective and efficient means to control vast amounts of GFE (Government-Furnished Equipment) involved in its contract. While 85 percent of its workers are in Alabama, COLSA Corporation recently acquired a San Diego-based firm working in military communications.
Finally, COLSA meets the standards for philanthropy and corporate citizenship maintained by the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The company has endowed scholarships at The University of Alabama in Huntsville and at Auburn University. It regularly provides scholarships to deserving individuals from Huntsville and Puerto Rico and is a generous contributor to the Hispanic College Fund.
Companies seeking to re-create COLSA’s successes view the firm as a trusted advisor. It often provides managerial and financial assistance to small, minority-owned firms and was honored in 1993 with the Minority Enterprise Award, acknowledging superior effort to improve quality of life in North Alabama’s minority communities. Furthermore, in 2000, COLSA Corporation’s innovative employee programs were singled out for praise in the form of a Family Friendly Business Award.
The impact of a small business as service-oriented as COLSA Corporation is looms large. The firm strives to motivate others’ efforts to succeed materially and morally, and it leads by clear example. COLSA Corporation is indeed a fit choice for induction in the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.