People - November 2005

Official says draw on martial dealing
By Chris Roush

Lonely singles have eHarmony.com. Now North Carolina companies in search of more business have a Web site where they might find that federal-government contract they’ve always dreamed of. Matchforce.org is run by the Fayetteville-based North Carolina Military Business Center and head matchmaker Scott Dorney.

Dorney, 49, the center’s executive director since December, draws on the 21 years he spent in the Army. “I’ve seen what the government buys,” he says. But he’s got a tough job: It’s not that Tar Heel companies wouldn’t be suitable mates; many just don’t know what opportunities are out there or how to play the game.

The state has the fourth-largest number of military personnel but ranks 23rd in Department of Defense contracts. It got only $2.2 billion of business out of $230 billion in defense spending in 2004. To correct that, the General Assembly appropriated $1.8 million for the center in the summer of 2004. It began operating statewide in January.

That same month, the Defense Department awarded $230 million in contracts to make Army uniforms, but not one North Carolina apparel company had bid. The contracts went to companies in Puerto Rico, Alabama, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Dorney’s goal is to prevent that from happening again.

Matchforce.org posts information about government contracts, and more than 4,800 businesses have registered on the site. When the federal government needs what they sell, they get an e-mail from the center. Nine of its 11 employees work one-on-one with companies to help them bid for government business. By mid-September, the center had helped companies win about $44 million in federal contracts, including a $16 million deal for Mount Airy-based Spencer’s to make fabric for Air Force T-shirts.

Unlike his clients, Dorney’s sights were set on the military early. He was born at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland during his dad’s two years in the Army, got a bachelor’s in history from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., in 1977, then entered the Army as a second lieutenant. A field-artillery officer, he was stationed at Fort Bragg three times and earned a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University in 1988. During the Gulf War, he was second-in-command of an artillery battalion.

Returning to Fort Bragg in 1995, he rose to deputy garrison commander, retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1998 and became Fayetteville’s chief officer for human resources and support services. In 2003, he helped the Cumberland County Business Council develop a local version of the military center. He later helped expand it statewide.

Dorney travels a lot, helping Tar Heel businesses find their federal soul mates, but unlike eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren, you probably won’t see him on TV ads soon. In the Army, he learned to do his job and keep his head down. “We want to be known as operators. We don’t want to spend all of our time in self-promotion.”