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Tech talk profits.

Electromagnetic interference. Systems analysis. Automated spectrum management. Not exactly terms that are usually tossed around the office. However, for Robert L. Hardie Jr., that high-tech jargon is the topic of his business.

In 1986, Hardie launched Sentel Corp., a $4.4 million Arlington, Va.-based engineering company. Sentel's competitive edge, says Hardie, comes from its specialized services. "We've developed a niche within electromagnetic engineering," notes Hardie, whose clients include the Department of Defense and Unisys Corp.

With this type of technology, the 50-year-old entrepreneur says Sentel, which employs 56, can make the radio frequency spectrum more useable. For example, last year, Sentel developed a software system that allowed allied forces in Operation Desert Storm to continuously communicate with one another.

When Hardie started Sentel from his home in his spare time--he was still a senior electromagnetic engineer for a Fairfax, Va.-based company at the time--the first thing he did was tap the contacts he had made during his 20-year career. That led to his first contract--a $57,000 job for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

"I did an economic analysis of the Navy's Combat Systems Technical Operations Manual," Hardie explains. "That manual is used on ships to show the crew how to use the guns, missiles and communications equipment. Hardie says that his analysis saved the Navy "tens of thousands of dollars."

To grow his business, in 1988, Hardie applied for and received a $100,000 line of credit. (That line of credit now exceeds $500,000.) And by 1989, after a 27-month screening process, Sentel received 8(a) certification from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
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Title Annotation:engineering company Sentel Corp.
Author:Jones, Dasha
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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