By GREGORY ZELLER //
The aerospace and defense industries might not be Long Island stalwarts anymore, but they’re thriving elsewhere – and one Island startup is helping others fly in that busy space.
Launched in 2013, P&L Technical Management Solutions – a resident of Stony Brook University’s technology incubator – leverages decades of industry experience into a consultancy aimed primarily at companies seeking Pentagon and Homeland Security contracts, as well as lucrative private sector work.
Cofounders Eduardo Palacio and Robert Lukachinski are both products of Long Island’s back-in-the-day defense industry, having worked together at aerospace firm AIL through several of the company’s many permutations, including Cutler Hammer, Eaton Corp., Edo, ITT Corp. and Exelis.
“We grew through the company, primarily through the transitions of the 1990s and 2000s,” noted Palacio, now P&L’s president. “We never left the company, though the name kept changing.”
When Exelis spun off from ITT, Palacio became its vice president of program management, while Lukachinski – who was chief technical advisor to the Edo CEO – finally left to become vice president of electronic-systems engineering at Farmingdale-based Telephonics Corp.
Both longtime execs were eventually done in by what Palacio called “Long Island’s downstream of defense.” Palacio took what he termed a “senior out package” from Exelis, while Lukachinski was “organized out of Telephonics.”
But instead of ending their long careers, the unceremonious downsizing simply freed the 40-year friends to do what they’d always wanted to do.
“We’d talked about starting a business together for the longest time,” Palacio noted. “So we said, ‘This is the time. We’re both at the point of our careers where we can do this.’”
That point, late 2011, with the nation still stumbling out of the Great Recession, was not the greatest of times to be starting a business. But decades of industry contacts and the nature of their enterprise combined to make it exactly the right time to introduce P&L Technical Management Solutions, according to Lukachinski, now the startup’s vice president.
“It was actually very well positioned for us,” he said. “We each have 40 years of experience working with larger companies. We’re familiar with the rigors of government contracts and negotiations. We understand new-product development and mergers and acquisitions and team-forming – all the things you have to do to bring life to a company.”
And Long Island, Lukachinski added, was the perfect place to reapply their decades of industry experience, even though defense and aerospace companies have largely flown the coop.
“What we have now on Long Island is a base of small, high-tech companies yearning to grow,” the VP noted. “And we have the knowledge base to help them through the growth period.”
Writing proposals, securing large contracts, forming the right team to woo certain businesses, developing and executing strategic plans – the things the cofounders had done for more than 75 years combined were precisely the experiences and knowledge most startups lack.
“Companies like that don’t keep guys like us on staff,” Palicio noted. “They’re more product-based. But if you want to take a larger piece of the pie, we can provide that entry point – the strategic assessment that gets them to the right place.”
Since it launched four years ago, P&L Technical Management Solutions has worked almost exclusively with what Palacio called “companies looking to move up one level on the chain.” While many of those companies come from Long Island, the lion’s share comes from other national corners were defense and aerospace are purring along.
“We are in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and California,” Palacio said. “We go to many places to help companies transition. And on Long Island, we find ourselves supporting companies not in the defense industry.”
It turns out assembling teams and perfecting proposals and the other business-building protocols Palacio and Lukachinski know so well aren’t limited to defense or aerospace concerns. So P&L Technical Management Solutions has discovered new verticals in other industries; the firm recently helped a Long Island-based telecommunications startup develop an entirely new product-engineering process, for instance.
By addressing product specifications and otherwise introducing “rigor” to the startup’s product-development protocols, Lukachinski noted, P&L Technical Management Solutions was able to “help them take their product to market much sooner.”
“That’s an excellent example of the type of support we provide,” he added. “This startup had a really good idea and an in with the ultimate customer, but needed to turn the idea into a product.”
Consulting with defense-industry startups still pays the rent, Palacio noted, but other industries will be a major part of P&L Technical Management Solutions’ growth strategy in 2016 and beyond. Also helping the young company, which in 2016 will be officially recognized as a Minority-Owned Business (it takes three full years to qualify), is its recent inclusion in New York State’s Innovation Hot Spots program, which offers tax breaks, mentoring and business-development help to startups affiliated with incubator programs like the LIHTI.
“It gives us a tremendous advantage, with all those state taxes we won’t have to pay,” Palacio said.
But for P&L Technical Management Solutions to continue growing, he added, it must continue doing what Palacio and Lukachinski do best: networking.
“The best thing for us is to stay active, to be present, to take advantage, to meet people, to kiss babies,” Palacio said. “We have been growing at a pretty nice rate over the last three years. Now, our ability to take our skillsets and transition them to other industries is what’s going to allow us to continue growing.”
P&L Technical Management Solutions
What’s It? Business consulting for defense- and aerospace-industry startups, and others
Brought To You By: Long Island defense industry veterans Ed Palacio and Bob Lukachinski
All In: $20,000 in “traveling and hand-shaking money,” Palacio said, all self-invested
Status: Consulting (and expanding) as we speak