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Tuesday, May 9, 2006

UNCP grad Ron Oxendine gives advice to entrepreneurs

In a roomful of future entrepreneurs, Ron Oxendine, a 1973 UNC Pembroke graduate who owns a successful minority defense contracting company, laid down the ground rules for success.

Ron Oxendine

“In my 20-year career in the military, they taught me a lot of technical skills, and now I am selling brainpower back to the government,” Oxendine said. “Starting a business is a lot of work, but if you love it, it won’t seem like it.”

Oxendine, who grew up in the Wakulla community near Red Springs, N.C., started RNB Technologies, Inc., out of his home with $5,000 in cash and a loan from the federal Small Business Administration. Based in Arlington, Va., the fast-growing company has nine offices and 90 employees in the missile defense contracting business.

He spoke to about 100 UNCP students and faculty on April 19 at UNCP’s Regional Center at COMtech as part of the continuing Distinguished Executive Speaker Series of UNCP’s School of Business. Like other speakers in the series, Oxendine offered practical advice to budding entrepreneurs.

“You should get to know more about how the Small Business Administration can help you start a business,” Oxendine said. “All government agencies must set aside approximately five percent of its contracts for disadvantaged minority businesses.”

Having said that, Oxendine said that being a minority (he is a Lumbee Indian) only gets a foot in the door.

“We don’t sell things because we are minorities,” he said. “We sell things because we produce results. Being a minority is an opportunity to present your case.”

Oxendine said his goal is to double his business every year, and he is on target.

Ron Oxendine with wife, Nell, and Dr. Carmen Calabrese, UNCP’s MBA director

Ron Oxendine with wife, Nell, and Dr. Carmen Calabrese, UNCP’s MBA director

“We offer the best price for the best service,” he said. “We’re not late on delivery, and we don’t go back in the middle of a contract and beg for more money.”

One of his secrets to success is to keep good people close to you, Oxendine said.

“You have no friends when you’re chasing a dollar,” he said. “Work with folks you love and be selective in choosing partners.”

Oxendine’s partner is his wife Nell.

“I like creating jobs, and Nell likes to write the pay checks and she likes paying people well,” he said. “Nell is a great business manager, and I had a lot of military expertise.”

A biology major at UNCP, Oxendine was one of the University’s youngest graduates at age 19. He was also one of the youngest officers in the Marine Corps, and retired after 20 years as a major.

In the military, Major Oxendine worked in ballistic missile defense and in space defense operations among other assignments. In preparation for owning his own business, he worked for other defense contractors in the Washington, D.C. area.

Oxendine worked for Logicon Eagle Technologies as a senior analyst, at Techmatics, Inc., providing engineering, technical and analytical services and as senior program manager for Battle Management Command Control Communications/Systems Engineering and Integration in the missile defense program for the Pentagon.

“We’re heavily involved in defending the United States of America,” he said. “It’s a $9 billion a year business, so we have room to grow.”

One of the perks of his jobs is travel, Oxendine said. He enjoyed the visit to his alma mater. “We had a good time looking at the campus and talking about old times,” he said.

For more information about the Distinguished Executive Speaker Series, please call UNCP’s MBA Director, Dr. Carmen Calabrese, at 910.521.5712 or email carmen.calabrese@uncp.edu.

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