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Government contractors brace for spending cuts

Some companies have built successful businesses on government funding. Now, as Washington gets ready to begin automatic budget cuts, these firms are taking stock.

American Automation: We're diversifying

government contracts american automation
  • Revenue: $3 million to $5 million
  • # of employees: 50
  • Based in: Denver, Colo.

Ishmail Nassardeen-Buckley and Lisa Buckley, his wife and business partner, are on a roll. Their security and energy management business American Automation has survived the tragedy of 9/11 and the recent recession.

"In both cases, government spending didn't fall as much as private sector spending," said Lisa, the company's president. "That's really helped us." Her firm provides energy management and security systems, as well as security devices, to the military, Environmental Protection Agency and other federal clients.

Lisa and her husband are both African-American, which allowed them to get American Automation certified as a minority-owned business. And that made it easier to compete for government contracts over the years.

Now, with steep automatic spending cuts just days away, Lisa is feeling a few jitters but remains hopeful. "We protect things that the government needs protected. So we haven't been affected yet."

To be safe, Lisa said American Automation started to diversify its clients more than a year ago. Instead of 80% of her business coming from the government, she wants to shrink it to 60%.

"It's quite irresponsible how the government has been running the country. If I ran my business like Congress has been handling the budget, I'd lose my job."

- Last updated March 12 2013 11:55 AM ET