What value does AIT Engineering bring its customers?
Our business offering is largely specialty engineering services. This includes a large portion of cybersecurity because that’s a big need right now, along with network and software engineering as well. From a customer value perspective, our goal is to provide the best engineers in their discipline, using the best value proposition. This usually doesn’t mean our engineers are the cheapest. But, what it does mean is that for every dollar a customer spends, they get more than a dollar’s worth of progress.
What would you say your completive edge is over others in your market?
The people. The engineers we have are absolutely the best at what they do. We wouldn’t be where we are without them. I think that our secret sauce is creating the communication and the automation frameworks within the company to allow these people to share their recipes for success with their peers, so their peers can reuse them. Our focus is on creating an environment where the sum of the parts becomes greater than the whole. Our team is incredibly smart, we bring them together and create ways they can work together through automation and communication frameworks. Watching alpha personalities work well together, it’s not something that happens very often.
Tell me a little more about your company culture.
Our team is like one big family. Our engineers are the best at what they do, and we have a close-knit culture. Over 85% of employees have been directly recruited through personal contacts and relationships.
AIT has four core values – integrity, loyalty, commitment, and selflessness. If we encounter employees failing to demonstrate them, we move them along quickly. We all work together toward sustainable solutions to produce the best outcome for everyone. If we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we won’t and sometimes a “good enough solution” is exactly what we want to give our customers. I mentioned before how we don’t put profit as the top priority and this simple approach doesn’t always maximize revenue. Instead, we intentionally focus on seeking out the best value solutions to enable future trust.
What are some of the challenges you faced over the years in growing your business?
I think my number one challenge personally, has always been knowing when to get help. We started out small and I had to figure out how to perform multiple roles in the company. Everything from contracts to payroll and HR. Early on, we couldn’t afford to hire professionals to do that and I was doing it all myself. Knowing when to bring on help for those types of roles when I knew that I could do it myself was always a big challenge. Looking back, I should have been more proactive in taking the leap of faith and making those decisions earlier. It can be hard to know when to let go and focus on where you want to be instead of where you are today.
Where do you hope to see AIT Engineering in the coming years?
Over the next few years are our goal is to continue our slow and controlled growth. We don’t want to prioritize revenue and growth at the expense of endangering our quality standards. We’ve had an average of 20% year-over-year growth for the past 10 years. That kind of growth is just fine with us, it’s sustainable.
Going into the future we’re going to do the same thing we’re doing now, just a little more of it. We’d like to continue to diversify our customer base. That’s really where I’d like to see us evolve. I’d like AIT to branch out and deliver value to more people and companies.
What’s your proudest moment as President?
My proudest moment probably isn’t a singular moment. It’s when I hear employees say that AIT is the best place they’ve ever worked. To know that we’re empowering them to do their job, with the resources they need, is a great thing to hear. That means our employees are happy, and when they’re happy, they tend to do better work. Hearing things like that lets me know that I’m doing okay at my job.
What does it mean to be selected as an Honoree this year?
It’s an honor to be recognized and to be listed with all of the other great companies this year. I looked through the other honorees and their great stories, they’re all being very innovative. As an engineering services company, who’s trying to do the best we can in this emerging cybersecurity market, to be recognized with this group is an honor.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
First and foremost, especially, I’d like to thank my wife, Paige. From the beginning, she encouraged me to take a chance and leave a very stable, well-paying job, even with two small kids at home. When we were first starting AIT and the long hours it took, she’d not only keep everything running at home with the kids but also helped to grow the business, too. When she saw the need, she jumped in and ran our HR and Payroll departments for several years to establish a firm foundation at AIT. By her running the household and entire back office, she enabled me to grow AIT and I couldn’t have done it without her.
Secondly, I would like to thank the people at General Dynamics that took a chance on AIT when we were a startup over 10 years ago. Since then, we’ve established a true partnering relationship with them and have been extremely successful as a team. They have stuck with us since the beginning and we’re extremely thankful for their support.