We are going to dive right into 1987 with some photos and a newspaper article!
Article above transcribed:
A six-year-old company has labored nearly anonymously in its hometown while building quite a reputation with the federal government.
Acousticom Corp. is by its own president’s admission a “low-key” company, but it is being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as the finest governmental prime contractor in the Midwest.
The company at 28180 Clay St. will compete with nine other companies for selection in May as the nation’s finest governmental prime contractor.
Acousticom manufactures communications equipment, primarily for military use.
Its earphones, microphones, cables and headsets are used in helmets worn by jet fighter and helicopter pilots and operators of combat vehicles, such as tanks.
The firm grew from 10 employees and $100,000 in sales in 1981 to 57 employees and more than $2 million in sales for 1986. The company now has 66 employees, said Jean Cochran, president.
Mrs. Cochran and her husband, Ben T. Cochran, started the company in the late summer of 1980. After Ben’s untimely death in July 1981, Mrs. Cochran and son Mark chose to press on, continuing the business the family had started.
Mrs. Cochran is the president of the company, and Mark is the vice president and chief engineer.
“I manage the company and Mark takes care of the manufacturing part of it,” Mrs. Cochran said.
About two-thirds of Acousticom’s business is with the Department of Defense, with the remainder in the commercial marketplace or as a subcontractor to prime contractors.
Acousticom now is working on eight contracts with the Defense Department, valued at $3,926,083, plus other contracts totaling about $1 million.
Relying on governmental contracting may sound like too much red tape and bureaucracy for some companies, but it was the idea up which Acousticom was founded.
Mrs. Cochran said her husband had worked with the military before with other companies and “knew they needed another supplier.”
It often takes nearly a year from the time the government announces it is seeking bids for a particular product before it awards a contract, noted Terry Fisher, marketing manager for Acousticom.
“You’ve got to have patience,” Mrs. Cochran said. “There are a lot of layers of people to go through.”
If she minds the paperwork and delays involved with government contraction, it doesn’t show.
“We do quite well with the forms,” she said, and “we have no problem with the government having access to the company.”
Acousticom has testing equipment necessary for making sure the products it sells to the government can withstand various conditions that might be faced in the field, including inclement weather.
Government officials sometimes visit the company to observe the products testing before conducting tests themselves.
The government’s appreciation of Acousticom stems from the company’s philosophy that “we don’t ship anything out the door that doesn’t do what it’s suppose to do,” Fisher said.
Mrs. Cochran says the belief that waste, fraud and abuse is rampant in military contracting is “nonsense.”
It is not true that a company does not need to emphasize quality to do business with the federal government, she said.
“They check out quality very closely,” she said.
“People only hear about the $300 hammers,” she said. “The government gets a bum rap on that.”
The government’s opinion of Acousticom is clear from reading the nomination for the Small Business Prime Contractors of the Year Awards. The company was nominated by Defense Contract Adminstration Services Management Area, Indianapolis.
The nomination makes such comments as “quality is a high priority with this company” and “the delivery record of this company is outstanding. Performance on contracts is timely. No delivery problems whatsoever.”
Mrs. Cochran said Acousticom is growing, but she strives for controlled growth to ensure long-term stability.
The company moved in October from its original location on Lexington Park Drive to a new building on Clay Street, off Nappanee Street.
Mrs. Cochran said she and her husband, a South Bend native, initially planned to establish Acousticom in South Bend.
But she said the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce – its president, Keith Meade, in particular – was instrumental in convincing the Cochrans to set up the company in Elkhart by helping them find a building in which to get started.