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'You take care of your people'
'You take care of your people'

SBG Technology Solutions
Stafford, Va.
Health care: 42 employees -- all covered

In an "Open for Questions" town hall meeting in March, Carlos Del Toro asked President Obama for administrative changes that would make government contracts more attainable for small companies.

Obama said he would work on it. "The more players there are, the more Carloses there are who are out there scratching and striving to get some business, ultimately the better deal we'll get as taxpayers," Obama said.

Del Toro founded SBG Technology Solutions in 2004 after spending 26 years serving in the Navy. The engineering company provides administrative, IT and engineering services to government agencies. Del Toro offers health insurance to every single one of his employees -- and unlike most small businesses owners, ever-rising costs are not his largest concern. As a government contractor, Del Toro can pass on a portion of the health insurance costs to his clients.

But navigating the heath insurance maze is still complicated. SBG Technology's workers are scattered throughout the country: 25 employees in Arkansas, three in San Diego, and the remaining 14 in the multistate region surrounding Washington, D.C.

"Part of our challenge is that every time we bring on a new employee in a new state, we have to ensure that our health care provider covers employees in those states," Del Toro says. "The rates are usually different, and I have rarely been in a situation where I have seen the rates go down."

SBG Technology's coverage costs $225 to $500 per month, per employee, depending on the worker's age and the health. But Del Toro says he would find a way to provide health insurance to his employees even if he couldn't build some of the cost into his contract prices: The Navy instilled in him the creed that "you take care of your people," he says. "Honestly and integrity are the foundation of everything we do."

The importance of health insurance hits close to home for Del Toro. "I come from a family with two members with prior health conditions," he says. "Life is tough enough as it is, and people deserve to be treated well despite their own challenges."

Del Toro hires employees regardless of health restrictions, but he knows that not every small business owner can afford to be so egalitarian. "You take a look at the mom-and-pop grocery store where you are looking at a product that might make a couple cents profit on each cost -- your profit line is really, really narrow."

NEXT: Battling through the recession

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LAST UPDATE: Jan 11 2010 | 2:14 PM ET
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