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From early mistakes, Charlotte firm learned to snag high-dollar defense contracts (access required)

By Hannah Mitchell CHARLOTTE — This month, local engineering firm ZAPATA Incorporated learned the latest in a series of lucrative lessons: Competing against huge companies is not necessarily a drawback, even in a recession. Five-year, $30 million U.S. Navy contract – check. Five-year, $1.2 billion U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract – check. Five-year, $350 million U.S. Air Force contract – check. Four-year, $8 million Fort Bragg-based contract – check. “It is unusual to get that many in that short of a time period,” said Marty Ray, ZAPATA’s vice president of environmental services, the staff member in charge of business development. “It’s a little bit unusual for a company our size. We’re not as large as many of our competitors, but we seem to be out-competing them.”

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