Westway Enterprises LLC is a pioneer in developing and operating commercial Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) and is changing the way small companies conduct business with the United States Department of Defense, its agencies, and the intelligence community.
Pioneers invariably see the contours of emerging business trends much before anyone else and create markets where none existed before. Mark Webber, founder of Westway Enterprises, firmly belongs to the category of pioneers for developing commercial Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs) starting in 2008.
A SCIF in the US Department of Defense (DOD) parlance is a secure room, building, or data center that is protected against unauthorized access and all forms of electronic surveillance and data leakages of sensitive security and military information. To access DOD and intelligence community classified Requests for Proposal (RFPs), a vendor must work on a classified computer in a SCIF. In addition, many contracts with the DOD and intelligence community require the vendor to perform the services in a government accredited SCIF. The lack of access to a SCIF has proven a barrier to entry to many small businesses who want to perform work for the DOD and intelligence community. Westway recognized this problem and created a solution that benefits both the government and businesses at no cost to the government.
With no existing business model that could be used as a reference, Westway had to rely on ingenuity to break down the walls of skepticism. It created a unique business model that provides commercial SCIF space for lease. “One of the challenges we faced was to change the culture. A lot of people said that it’s not the way the government did business — outsource to a contractor to build their SCIFs and handle the communications, packages, the network, and all the things that go into it. There were lot of people that were working against us because it was change. But we hung in there, we battled through it. We gained credibility with the government” said Jack Pryor, President of Westway Enterprises LLC. “One of the things that makes the model work is that Westway takes all the risk on the investment upfront. We don’t receive any funding directly from the government,” says Pryor.
“The security part of this is non-negotiable” says Keith Masback, former CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), who currently works as an advisor to Westway. There are no gray areas in the security business: either a facility is secure or not secure. According to Pryor, hiring quality people with impeccable reputation and credentials is the key in security business. “We hired people out of agencies who knew the rules, knew security, and had credibility,” he says. “In some cases, they wrote the rules,” chips in Masback.
A large part of this model is Westway’s single seat program that allows a customer to rent a single cube or office in a SCIF in one of its buildings. This especially benefits small businesses who can work in that seat to access classified RFP’s to find new work and perform work on their existing contract. However, as Westway’s concept of “SCIF as a Service” gained more traction, big businesses started approaching Westway with big dollars, but the company remained loyal to their core customer base of small businesses. It is sometimes the case that large businesses rent SCIF space from Westway to house their subcontractors. “For example, we signed a lease with a Fortune 100 company, but that company is not in our building. Instead, they put five of their subcontractors doing classified work in our building. We have a lot of that sort of thing. We stayed true to our focus,” says Pryor. “One of the many unique things about Westway is that we do not compete with our tenants for government contracts. In fact, we help our tenants win contracts because that’s good for them and us,” points out Pryor.
Westway Enterprises is currently in a growth mode. Its first facility in Herndon, Virginia (92,204 sq. ft.) has been joined by a second building in Chantilly, Virginia (79,067 sq. ft.). Westway’s newest project is currently underway and involves developing 75,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art SCIF and secret collateral office space on the 7th floor of the Globe Building in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. “We have determined in St. Louis over the next five years, assuming the current growth trend continues, there is going to be a requirement of approximately 300,000 sq. ft. of secure office space. We found the Globe Building and were able to lease space from its owner Steven Stone.
Westway’s SCIF (75,000 sq. ft.) at the Globe Building in St. Louis will be the first of its size provided by a private sector company outside the National Capital Region and underscores the importance of the emergence of St. Louis as a national geospatial intelligence hub. It’s also a reflection of a larger trend of growing demand for secure workspace. “There are going to be a number of hubs outside the National Capital Region. St. Louis is one of those hubs. Additional hubs will include Austin, Denver, Huntsville, Miami and Tampa among others,” said Pryor.
Pryor sees the demand for SCIFs expanding to international community as well, but much will depend on the support from the various agencies in the US. He also anticipates a growing demand for small SCIFs in numerous locations throughout the US. Another emerging trend is the private sector asking for secure (SCIF-like) facilities for activities like R&D to protect their patents and other intellectual property from industrial espionage. Pryor says that as this market for SCIF-like facilities outside the government sector matures, Westway Enterprises will be able to deliver the required secure office space because of its expertise, experience, technologies, and past performance in the market.Westway’s model enabled telecommuting during the pandemic and is advancing ongoing government initiatives related to remote work. Further, by pioneering the concept of community SCIFs, Westway will help pave the way for the regionalization of US national security efforts, as well as benefit myriad other research, development, and engineering endeavors across a broad array of industry verticals. Westway’s ongoing success in Northern Virginia, its imminent development in St. Louis, and other projects in the pipeline represent a powerful opportunity.
For more information on Westway, please contact Catherine Kidon, Executive Vice President at email@example.com or 571-524-9030.