March 25, 2009

High-Tech Contractor To Double Its Payroll

Kathy Stech  /  Post and Courier

A high-technology government contractor in need of more room is shifting its local headquarters a few miles away in a move that will enable the firm to double its payroll. Barling Bay LLC, which now employs 31 workers locally, needs to expand to accommodate the growing amount of government work it has secured, said spokeswoman Marsha Hassell.

Its largest customer is the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center operation in Hanahan. The firm's engineers help advise SPAWAR on which new computer programs to use, and they can also help install new information programs. By expanding, Barling Bay is going against the perception that all industries are cutting back. "

It's basically because the skills we have are in demand and because so much of what any business, especially the Navy, depends on are computers and networks," Hassell said. "They have needs for information. ... With those skills, you'll always be employed."

Barling Bay's growth also shows how local military outfits like SPAWAR have helped stabilize the local economy while offsetting losses in major employment sectors such as real estate and tourism.

Federal agencies often farm out behind-the-scenes jobs that are sometimes specialized and highly technical. SPAWAR, which is on the Naval Weapons Station, is growing because more government entities are seeking out the local command to handle more of their high-technology needs, said spokesman Lonnie Cowart. "The types of products and services that Spawar provides, along with the quality of support, had led to an expanding customer base," he said in a written statement.

Already, Barling Bay has posted some local engineering openings on its Website, The company will likely add more workers once the relocation is finished in June, Hassell said. The firm's new 44,177-square-foot space at Remount Business Park gives the firm additional lab space, conference rooms and offices. "We don't have to worry now about where we're going to put people as they're coming on board," Hassell said.

Amee Bay LLC, a sister company that shares Barling Bay's current space on Corporate Road in North Charleston, also will relocate to the new office, said Amee Bay's president, Rick Jones. The company, which provides marine consulting and repair services, also could add a few employees to its local roster of about 20 workers, he said.

Both entities are owned by the Village of Old Harbor on Alaska's Kodiak Island. They are subsidiaries of Three Saints Bay, an Anchorage-based holding company, and are designated by the federal government as small, disadvantaged businesses.