Laurie S. Artis – President & CEO of Civility Management Solutions
1.Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
Civility Management Solutions (CMS) was established to not only employ individuals in professional services but to also mentor and train them in becoming better workforce partners. In the Marine Corps, we are constantly mentoring to improve others and ourselves, and for those that receive it, it can increase their life personally and professionally. We are working hard to develop both an east and west coast office, and to add the HUBZone certification to our certifications. Also, as a Woman Veteran, of course, CMS is focused on supporting both civilian and military, nationally and abroad. My life story has well prepared me to work with a diversity of individuals, doing a diversity of work for this country, and I am honored at the opportunity to once again serve the United States.
2. Have you always been an entrepreneur?
Yes, I have always been an entrepreneur as I sold candy as a child from my parents’ home; modeled professionally as a teenager in high school; (tried) medical billing and was scammed; marketed holistic products that I still use; and began an outdoor BootCamp exercise program. So, yes, I have always been an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to take the leap?
Being inspired by seeing another woman, much younger than myself own and operate a company with over 200 employees was truly some revelation … I can do this! After working onsite in the government, and inside the corporate office, I really enjoyed the work. I have thanked her several times since leaving her company, as I am grateful that I had an opportunity to gleam this world before taking the leap.
3. What is your biggest lesson learned from working with the Federal Government?
You must be a people person! If you’re not, then you are depending on others to do that for you; whereas, there is no better representation of your company than yourself and being 100% owned, this is important. You must enjoy working with people and be willing to work with them to give both satisfaction and appreciation despite the obstacles that may come from them. I love people, and that allows them to appreciate me and relationships are important.
4. Do you have any tips you would like to share with other women pursuing Federal Contracts?
Put on your big ones (smile) … as this business is not for the faint of heart. It is truly a marathon, and you have to stay focused, stay involved, stay teachable, and get connected.
5. Have you encountered any challenges you had to overcome as a professional business woman and if so, what have you learned from them?
Yes, I have encountered several challenges, but the worst was dropping my salary to minimum wage in order to stay employed by my company and not seek a job. In reality, in order to become SBA certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB you should be working for your company full time “during normal business hours.” Upon submission of required documentation to Department of VA to become verified I learned then that they can prove this through your tax returns. So, what I learned is that you need to operate in integrity at all levels in order to ensure success that can be maintained for years to come and stay out of trouble with the government.
6. Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!
I have responded to a Sources Sought and helped influence the set-aside, then responded to the solicitation and won the opportunity!
7. Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member.
Wow, fascinating, as it is great to be surrounded by women on a mission. As a WIPP member I have learned so much from great teachers through WIPP webinars; I have been ‘sold out’ on the fight for women in business due to participating in congressional sessions alongside WIPP; and lastly, I truly enjoy being surrounded by women that are determined to make a difference for themselves and others.
What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?
Webinar sessions, Congressional meetings, and testimonies.