As a former small business owner, I know firsthand the stress and sweat that goes into operating a small business—but the spirit of entrepreneurialism is in our DNA as Texans. Our state is home to nearly four and a half million small businesses. Nearly one million of them are women-owned, making Texas the state with the third-highest number of women-owned businesses in America. One is WilliamsRDM, a local woman-owned small business with a big footprint in defense, energy, and fire safety.
WilliamsRDM, known as Williams Pyro until 2013, is led by Della Williams, who founded the research and manufacturing business with her husband Bob in 1963. Neither had a formal engineering degree, but Bob had the engineering skillset, Della had the business smarts, and both had our community’s enterprising pioneer spirit. The company manufactures hundreds of unique products for the aerospace and defense industries, as well as some products for the oil and gas and fire safety industry. Its work as a supplier for our country’s biggest defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman, keeps our military’s most impressive aircraft flying and helps give our troops the very best equipment they need to keep our nation safe.
The story of America’s defense is reflected in that of Fort Worth’s planes and pilots: For decades, the F-16 was manufactured in the same local plant that produced B-24 bombers for America’s fight for freedom in World War II. Those same production lines today produce the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the world’s most advanced fighter jet. Since the year it opened, WilliamsRDM and its team of just 70 employees have produced equipment, cables, and connectors that have gotten thousands of F-16s, F-35s—and more—safely off the ground, delivering over a quarter-million support pieces for the jets that put our city on the aerospace map.
Eighteen years ago, I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony when WilliamsRDM expanded into its current facility six blocks west of downtown Fort Worth. I returned in 2013 and spoke on the need for more female leaders in the defense industry, and visited again this year. Despite this year’s challenges, the company remains a Fort Worth success story, just like the legendary aircraft it helps keep flying. Last month, it was recognized by Lockheed Martin out of nearly 16,000 suppliers as an “Elite Supplier”.
WilliamsRDM supports projects that have changed not only Fort Worth, but the future of American airpower, proving that small businesses with big ideas are far more than just small companies. Since the year I arrived in Congress, I’ve been encouraged to see the number of women-owned businesses in Texas grow by 150%, driving economic success, innovation, and equality.
For my work on behalf of small businesses, I was proud to recently be awarded the National Federation of Independent Business’ “Guardian of Small Business” Award, an honor I’ve received every year I’ve served in Congress. First as a Fort Worth City Councilmember, then as Mayor, and now as your Representative in Congress, I’m proud to keep standing up for Texas 12 small businesses of all types, at every level of government and at every opportunity.