Press Room


By Melissa Weinman
Gainesville Times
Dec 16, 2009

Billy Smith and Jorge Rosales

The term "family business" usually brings to mind the image of a community-based shop.

But for Billy Smith, working for the family business includes overseeing delivery of surplus military equipment to the government of Uruguay in South America.

Smith Consulting Group, located on Main Street in Gainesville, recently organized a $10 million contract between Canada and Uruguay to ship surplus military supplies for use in a United Nations peace-keeping mission.

"We represent governments much like a real estate agent does when you sell your home," Smith said.

The company is somewhat unique; there is little standard information when it comes to the resale value of military equipment.

"There’s no place like a Kelly Blue Book," Smith said. "We are familiar with values because we’ve been in the business for more than 55 years."

Smith said the recent $10 million contract between Canada and Uruguay was more than three years in the making.

Smith Consulting Group orchestrated the sale of more than 100 armored personnel carriers and 70 parts containers being used by Canada on a peacekeeping mission in Sudan this summer.

Smith said his company negotiated the sale directly from Sudan to Uruguay to avoid the cost of returning the equipment back to Canada or having it scrapped in Africa.

armored personnel carrierThe Uruguayan army will refurbish the vehicles for use on other U.N. peacekeeping missions in Congo and Haiti.

"These vehicles are going to good purposes," Smith said.

Smith said relatively few people realize that his international business operates in Gainesville.

"We’re so low profile," Smith said. "We do very little business locally or domestically."

Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said there are a number of interesting small businesses that call Gainesville and Hall County home.

"We’re so diverse," Dunlap said. "It’s kind of all across the board which makes our community so successful."

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