One of the most enjoyable aspects of attending any major trade show is learning about new security solutions and applications, along with visiting first-time exhibitors. SecurityInfoWatch recently talked with Erica Wolfkill, the Senior Director of Federal and State Local Sales at NOBLE, a global provider of supply chain management, logistics, mission support, and technology/e-commerce solutions for the U.S. military, federal, state, and local governments, and private sector. Noble’s operations extend to support mission requirements worldwide. The organization’s strategically located fulfillment and distribution centers in the United States and its facilities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia enable rapid deployment of routine and emergency orders, even in high-risk geographical areas.
NOBLE will be exhibiting at GSX at Booth 1645 and will showcase many of its products that fit into the U.S. Critical Infrastructure (i.e. airports, mass transit centers, stadiums, financial centers, defense industries and much more) area.
Wolfkill has been involved in the Federal Government Sales sector with NOBLE for 10 years and its Senior Director since January of this year. Prior to joining NOBLE, Wolfkill was with Federal Resources for almost 15 years in Federal Government and Critical Infrastructure.
SecurityInfoWatch: Give us a little synopsis of the mission for NOBLE and how you fit into the role of Senior Director.
Erica Wolfkill: NOBLE is about mission readiness and bringing the right equipment sets to military, and commercial and being able to get quick procurement and the right equipment to do their missions for Homeland Security, military and the like. It's important to be able to not only partner with the right best-in-class technologies but also provide these entities with a short path to procurement and a way to spend their money. NOBLE is on several federal contracting arms and contracting vehicles, as well as a lot of direct procurement with various agencies or blanket purchase orders or IDIQs. Helping these agencies formulate acquisition strategies so that they can be mission ready, everything from boots and suits to counter UAS or tanks or bollards, or in the case of Ukraine, lifesaving measures and quick acting things for natural disasters, in the FEMA response. That’s the mission.
SIW: You also work in the public safety sector and with law enforcement, correct?
Wolfkill: Absolutely. We have a federal DOD branch, federal, state and local, focusing on main markets in CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives). We have expeditionary, which would be your shelters, tents, airline storage, and aircraft storage. We have MRO, which is kits and tools and things like that. The connection of all things, whether it be detectors to comms.
SIW: When we're talking about CBRNE threats, are they real? Is it something that we have to look beyond just the battlefield?
We work with all different (types of) vendors and manufacturers, as the technology is getting better and more cost-effective, to make sure that they can communicate and enunciate the return on investment. This is especially true for mass transit in the New York Metro, DC Metro, and anywhere where bad actors, whether they be homegrown or foreign entities, are able to come in and attack our homeland. We're trying to raise awareness and educate folks in these tier-one commercial entities, stadiums, and facilities like that, and ensure they still get funded and still get protected.
SIW: How do you work with the public and private sectors in tandem to ensure a secure environment and help them understand their risk postures?
Wolfkill: We work closely with DHS. They do a lot of test beds in these major cities and where they're bringing industry together. Sometimes we play a role in that, whether it be just nominating different technologies from some of our vendor relationships or we're on the back end of that (project) where we actually help maintain, service or train on equipment that's being deployed in some of the test beds. But it's really that private/public partnership with folks like us that play in the middle because we can offer procurement of certain equipment, but also have those subject matter experts.
At NOBLE, we employ a lot of former or current military and law enforcement. Our training team is top-notch having folks that are still active SWAT, EMS, and fire-hazmat teams that are leading the way, doing training for us and working with those government, commercial or private entities to make sure we're training up on the latest equipment and also relying on the latest threats back to the manufacturers, who may be going down one direction with their next new product that doesn’t meet the needs of its clients.
SIW: Moving on to procurement, which is another critical mission area for your team. It's interesting because the case for centralized procurement for many companies is based on their ability to save time, money and manpower, but conversely, for other companies, it risks becoming a bottleneck and a hindrance to productivity. How do you reconcile the pros and cons of centralized procurement? Let's discuss this at the enterprise level versus those who may not know how to enact and embed centralized procurement strategies into their business plans.
Wolfkill: Depending on whether it's private or federal, there are different procurement rules and education levels there. When you work with a company like NOBLE, we have access to some larger buying power contracts, which can be funneled through. NOBLE is often buying in quantity or bulk for multiple mission sets that we're able to utilize pricing advantages with certain vendors for certain project requirements. Because we're at a certain tier of buying power, we can relay that savings and that margin consideration to our customer set, if that makes sense.
Compare that to a one-off opportunity for an individual company X who goes to a big vendor, let's just say a Thermo Fisher (Scientific) or someone similar. NOBLE has a close to a 20-year procuring relationship with a company like this and provides some advantages and cost savings. By working with a team where you're actually driving requirements or working on the mission set, you can work with those particular vendors to get the best pricing because you're bringing them in or partnering with them on a particular need or opportunity.
SIW: All this sets the table for NOBLE’s first visit to GSX. So, what are you looking to achieve?
Wolfkill: As we talked about earlier, NOBLE acquired Federal Resources which had recently acquired KD Analytical, which is our service arm. More than 90% of our KD staff hold U.S. security clearances which has given us a leg up in this niche space for all these tier-one buildings and facilities. These acquisitions also opened up the aperture for NOBLE to really take a look at this critical infrastructure space. Utilizing where legacy NOBLE has been successful in the procurement path and combining that with what we've got on the critical infrastructure side now has only heightened our capabilities. We're excited about being 9in Dallas) and letting people know what we do -- it's more than just laying out some security gear on a table at GSX. I'm very excited about our team. We’ve got a bunch of vendors coming with us to see what critical infrastructure is and how we can address today’s current threats.