FOB NoDak and Apex Solutions
Years of Service: 36+
Branch: Army National Guard and United States Army
What is your story?
On December 20, 1982, I walked into the National Guard recruiting office and told the man behind the desk I wanted to sign up and take advantage of the tuition assistance program. Soon after, I was sworn in as a Private/E-l on a six-year contract. After a few years, I realized enjoyed it and I was good at it, so I enrolled in ROTC and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the North Dakota Army National Guard. Later, I went full-time with the Guard, followed by Title-10 Active Duty, which took me away from ND. I had an amazing career, specializing in ballistic missile defense space operations nuclear command and control and cyber operations. I had the privilege of commanding units at the Battery Battalion and Brigade levels. In 2019, I was confirmed by the Senate for promotion to Major General (2-star), but I declined and elected to retire and move back home to ND after a career spanning 36 years, 5 months and l days. After setting into a quiet life on our little hobby farm near Northwood, ND, I formed two consulting companies, one focused on space and missile defense with the other focused on cyber defense mostly work from home, and when I get tired of looking at a computer screen, I can go out for some “chainsaw therapy.”
What was your first job once you finished your service?
Advising a small company with business development and serving on an advisory panel for a government agency.
What led you to military service?
College benefits, family tradition and I was inspired by Ronald Reagan.
Did you take advantage of military benefits when starting your business?
No. In fact, I was constrained by the ethics rules, which prevented me from being able to do much for the first year after I retired.
What skill that you learned in your military service do you use most in your business career?
Leadership and team building.
Would you have been able to start a business without your military experience? Why or why not?
Not in my current business ventures. As a consultant, I’m hired for my experience and the technical knowledge accrued over the course of my career, as well as my access to senior leadership within the DOD. That said, many of the other skills I learned during my military career would certainly help me had I chosen a different business.
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?
Having a veteran-owned business is a huge advantage, especially in the Upper Midwest where people are mostly patriotic and will support you It’s not easy, but neither was your service. The military gave you the skills to succeed; use them! Lastly, keep things in perspective. Unlike the military, nobody is going to die if you make a bad business decision if you have a setback, just correct the problem, ruck up and move out!
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?
Personally, I missed the team and the missions. The first thing did was in the Chamber of Commerce and the Military Affairs Committee. That gave me the team and the MACs mission of supporting our military fulfilled my need to continue contributing Service doesn’t have to end when you take off the uniform.
What are some things you would’ve done differently with your business career if given a second chance?
Nothing. I chose to go out on my own instead of jumping into the corporate world because of the lifestyle wanted I wanted to move back to ND, which limited my options in the defense contracting world When was having a challenge ng day while still on active duty used to daydream about having a quiet life on a hobby farm in ND. Consulting enabled me to do just that Granted, my retirement and VA disability make a huge difference financially but the quality of life is important.