Phil Castle, The Business Times
As he recalls it, Jerome Gonzales said he was something of an accidental entrepreneur when he started his company in 2001.
Over the 20 years since then, J.G. Management Systems has grown into an enterprise that offers a range of services to government clients and employs a total of more than 100 people working in 17 states.
Gonzales and JGMS have won numerous awards, and the firm has ranked among the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
If Gonzales was uncertain at first about what he was getting into, he was never surprised by the results. “We always expected to be where we’re at. And we’re not done yet. We’re just not done.”
Gonzales and those who work with him attribute longevity and growth to such guiding principles as commitment, integrity, leadership and stewardship.
“We promise and we commit, and we actually keep our promises,” said Ray Plieness, chief operating officer.
Building relationships that foster repeat business helps as well, Plieness said. “We treat everyone like they’re our only customer.”
Becky Foster, a staff accountant who was among the first people hired at JGMS, said staff is valued, too, as part of an extended work family. “It makes a huge difference as an employee.”
In addition, JGMS has donated nearly 10 percent of its profits over the past 20 years to community and nonprofit organizations and paid employees for a total of 10,000 hours of community service.
Gonzales said it’s equally important for the company to not only do well, but also do good.
Starting its 21st year in business, JGMS now serves as a holding company that operates a family of companies that includes a government services firm that continues to serve the federal contracting industry as well as new venture focusing on technology research and development.
Gonzales said he’s excited about the role of new employees in carrying on the legacy of JGMS. “I know the next generation is going to do it right.”
Gonzales launched JGMS on Aug. 23, 2001, after working in various engineering and management positions for 12 years — nine of those with the U.S. Department of Energy, including a stint as deputy manager of the DOE facility in Grand Junction.
Gonzales was at first the only employee working from a small office and said he earned less than $7,000 in the first six months of operation.
JGMS grew quickly, though, in terms of staffing, the number of contracts the company secured and income.
JGMS also was accepted into the U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) program that assists small socially and economically disadvantaged businesses compete for federal contracts.
With a growing base of government clients that include the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense, Forest Service, National Nuclear Safety Administration and Postal Service, income increased.
Between 2007 and 2013, JGMS ranked among the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States in lists compiled for Inc. magazine.
Gonzales and JGMS have earned other accolades over the past 20 years, among them inclusion among the top minority-owned and private companies in Colorado in lists compiled for ColoradoBiz magazine, selection as a regional finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and selection as the SBA Minority Small Business Person of the Year for a six-state region that includes Colorado. In 2020, JGMS won the Governor’s Award for Minority-Owned Business.
In 2013, JGMS created an employee stock ownership trust, enabling employees to own 49.5 percent of the company.
Today, JGMS offers a range of services related to applied engineering, science and technology as well as management. Those services include everything from process analysis and program management to acquisition management and budgeting to organizational development and talent management.
Plieness said JGMS provides support that enables clients to carrying out their missions.
Ryan Plieness, a son who works as an acting division manager at JGMS, said staff take on many roles as engineers, scientists and project managers. “Above all, we’re problem solvers.”
Gonzales said JGMS brings to its services not only technical expertise, but also transparency and trustworthiness. “It’s not what we do. It’s how we do it.”
Gonzales measures success by doing well, but also by doing good in terms of the way the company treats employees and gives back to the community.
Jeni Brown, chief financial officer, said company culture creates a workplace family and affords flexibility in scheduling.
JGMS has supported a variety of community organizations and efforts over the years.
The company provided seed money to start the Riverside Education Center and has continued to support efforts there to provide tutoring and enrichment and outdoor activities for students. The company also has supported Colorado Mesa University and its annual entrepreneurship event. Employees receive paid time off for community service.
Looking ahead, Gonzales said he expects JGMS to continue to grow and excel under a restructured organization that will continue to serve the federal contracting industry while also focusing on technology research and development. He also expects JGMS to continue to do good in the way it supports employees and communities.
In those respects, JGMS will continue down the path upon which Gonzales started 20 years ago as an accidental entrepreneur.