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De Lune Corp Makes its Mark in the Federal Contracting Sphere
De Lune Corp
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – October 5, 2020
CEOCFO: Mr. Ismail, what is the vision at De Lune Corp today?
Mr. Ismail: De Lune Corp was incorporated in 2016 with the mission of connecting North American producers to global markets through supply chain efficiency and customized logistics. Building on the success of its international operations, De Lune ventured into the field of government contracting for international food aid and domestic food assistance programs in 2018. As a contractor to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), we have been able to secure over USD 20 million in contracts to date. Most recently, we were selected to implement the Farmers to Families Food Box Assistance Program as part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, the only company in Virginia to be awarded this contract. Being selected from a pool of 600 nation-
CEOCFO: How did you develop into the four sectors? Was this a deliberate strategy? Did you take advantage of opportunities?
Mr. Ismail: At the outset, the diversification from agro commodities was one of necessity. Heavy tariffs and escalating trade wars made it necessary for De Lune to enterprisingly incorporate other avenues of revenue into its growth strategy. The sectors that we diversified into were largely dictated to by where we are located. We didn’t focus on them blindly – we conducted our industry research prior to zoning in on these sectors. Being close to DC and IT corridors indicated that there would be scope for IT operations. Similarly, research on the local health industry also indicated that Springfield, VA had a large number of medical practices that would be open to outsourcing medical billing if services were provided at a very competitive price point. These opportunities prompted us to venture into these fields.
CEOCFO: How do you make it all work?
Mr. Ismail: It is all about aggressively seeking out opportunities. One simply cannot sit back and expect doors to open. I personally take advantage of every contact, every networking opportunity to explore avenues to strategically grow my business. I also make sure that my team is constantly exploring opportunities – each member of my team is out there following up trade leads, or government solicitations on a regular basis.
In order to succeed one has to concentrate on what they are doing and do it well and I need to make sure this is practiced in each of the sectors that we work in. Since I have four divisional heads running each sector, I have to make sure that there is open communication, and a shared work ethic and vision among all the members of my management team. So hiring the right people for the job is critical – at the end of the day, the buck stops with me.
CEOCFO: How do you break down between government and enterprise? Is there a deliberate mix you are looking for there or does it just depend on your products?
Mr. Ismail: What I ideally aim for is a 50/50 mix – our experience with the vagaries of global trade taught me this, because that way we are not dependent on any one sector at any given time. But this is not as easy as it seems – getting approved as a federal contractor takes time. One has to meet a number of criteria and the relationship takes time to evolve. So while we wait for inroads into federal contracting in all the sectors that we are in, we also have to focus on trade, focus on local government contracts (to this end, are SWaM certified, enabling us to pursue such opportunities in the Commonwealth of Virginia) and our retail operations – we have our own brand of packaged dried peas and lentils called Mr. Pod’s and a B2B egg delivery business serving the DMV area (1-
CEOCFO: In the agro and pharma how are you soliciting your products? You have eggs and poultry over and above your own, but you also have edible oils. There seems to be fruits and vegetables. You have quite a wide variety there. How is it all structured?
Mr. Ismail: We do deal in a large number of products, but at the end of the day it’s all about supply and demand regardless of the product. Either I have a customer looking for a certain product or I have one of my suppliers looking for a buyer. So I make the transaction happen – taking care of all logistics from A-
CEOCFO: Let us talk about De Lune Health. Whom are you working with and why do we need another company in this arena? There are so many companies that seem to be involved with the revenue cycle and with solutions for medical practices. What is different about De Lune?
Mr. Ismail: Yes, the space may seem quite crowded, but the global revenue cycle management (RCM) market size was valued at USD 64.3 billion in 2019 and is estimated to grow to 160.3 billion by 2027 – so there is enough of the pie to go around. Many practices are at a point where they see a critical need to outsource their billing operations. The key is to differentiate oneself from the competition, because not all RCM companies provide the same level of service. De Lune Health is competitive in this arena because of the quality of work and consistency. Our certified coders are up-
CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of where attention to detail makes a difference?
Mr. Ismail: Attention to detail is everything in the medical billing business. When conducting our market research, we found that many local practices were losing out on their hard-
CEOCFO: On the IT section, are you finding a pickup in interest? Many companies due to COVID need services more than ever and are beefing up or looking at other ways to approach technology. What are you finding today?
Mr. Ismail: There are most likely certain types of technology companies doing well during this pandemic – those that offer specific solutions to teleworking, for example. But overall, the IT sector is also facing challenges as all other economic sectors. Our contacts have informed us that even in the federal space technology projects have slowed down. We are still trying to make the most of the situation – for example, De Lune IT offered some of the companies that we work with an ecommerce outlet, where we could bring them online in five days for them to sell their products. We are certainly not being dormant. Simply building up our resources so that when the opportunities come back, we will be ready.
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“In order to succeed one has to concentrate on what they are doing and do it well and I need to make sure this is practiced in each of the sectors that we work in.” Gaddafi Ismail