Kush-Nuba International Petroleum

Sharif Ali and Faheem Bilbal had a long history in the petroleum business that dated back dozens of years. Neither owner had ever investigated direct sales to the government of their products, which ranged from heating oil to jet fuel. The firm had always worked through distributors. As the markets changed and profitability dwindled, Sharif realized that they had to start bidding directly to eliminate the multiple mark-ups inherent in their distribution network. As a result, the firm created a trading arm for direct government sales and contacted the Lehigh University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help with registrations, planning, and bidding.

Sharif and Faheem started their relationship with the SBDC by attending the Introduction to Government Marketing Seminar, followed by one-on-one meetings to get their DUNS number, apply initially for CCR/ORCA, and then convert to SAM. The SBDC enrolled the firm in their Bid Match program which led to multiple bidding opportunities. In conjunction with these steps, we also helped provide business planning guidance, even providing assistance with staffing, software, and marketing (capabilities statement and elevator pitch).

In 2013, they began bidding, including for several large contracts: none of which they won. However, the market intelligence and further SBDC assistance helped narrow the gap between their pricing and the actual awards. As they built their business, the SBDC helped them to avoid becoming victims of fraud through an overseas financing scam.

In 2014, the firm bid and won a large $3.9 million Department of Defense fuel oil supply contract. The SBDC helped with the bid preparation, and the financing advisor helped them to secure a matching loan.

“The PTAC at Lehigh gave us assistance that no one else could. They went beyond advice and served as our business partners.”

To visit Kush-Nuba's website, visit here: http://www.kushnuba.com