Veteran Entrepreneur: Keith Homstad, Owner, Alloy Engineering

Written by: Brady Drake

Keith Homstad grew up in Grand Forks, ND. During his military service, he spent time in Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, Ft. Bliss in Texas, Ft. Polk in Louisiana, Iraq, and Ft. Louis in Washington. Homstad finished his degree in Mechanical Engineering from UND and worked in Tennessee and Massachusetts before moving back home and switching gears into manufacturing engineering and consulting.

What led you to military service?

I needed a challenge and to see more of the world before going to college.

Did you take advantage of military benefits when starting your business?

Yes, I used the Veteran Business Outreach Center and participated in the ND Veterans Entrepreneur Course.

What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?

The inability to quit.

Would you have been able to start a business without your military experience? Why or why not?

Yes, but I would not have been able to graduate with a BSME. The military gave me a relentless drive to complete what I started.

What words of encouragement do you have for a fellow veteran nervous about taking the plunge into entrepreneurship – or maybe a veteran who started a business and is struggling?

The best advice I ever received was, “You get what you want by helping others get what they want.” When in doubt help someone. Also, there will never be a perfect moment to take the leap. I spent years hiding behind the idea that I needed more experience or a larger network. It took me a long time to realize that the experience I was looking for would only come after I was on my own.

Many veterans struggle with finding a sense of purpose when reintegrating into the civilian world. How can getting involved in the business community help with that reintegration process?

It’s important to build relationships and find a new struggle to put your energy towards. Starting a business is a very productive way to do both.

What are some things you would’ve done differently with your business career if given a second chance?

I would have started earlier and I would have made sure to stay in contact with previous employers and co-workers.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.