AMTIS, Inc. was a 2012 Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
“I was 58 and thought, why not start a business?” said Barbara Stankowski, founder of AMTIS, Inc. After finishing an esteemed 28-yearlong naval career and 8 years working in women owned small businesses, Stankowski made the transition into entrepreneurship with that admirable ‘if not now, then when’ attitude.
“My partner was only part of that effort for the first 4 years – he got tired of the process and didn’t think we were making fast enough success and wanted to go off on his own. So, I bought him out and became full owner in 2011,” Stankowski said.
“My kids were out of college, I was kind of on my own and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do, so I thought why not make that effort and start a company,” she said.However, similar to many entrepreneurs, the initial road to success wasn’t always a straight and narrow path. “I think the biggest challenge initially was funding. We found that local community banks were much more small business friendly,” she said. “They were helpful in giving us that initial line of credit where we were able to do business and maintain cash flow.”
Stankowski quickly found that with the desire to grow came the necessity to evolve. “We realized we had to diversify what we did and who we did it for,” she said. In the first few years, AMTIS was supporting and providing training to only a few government clients. “We diversified and by the end of 11 or 12 years we are now in multiple government agencies and providing a wide variety of services well beyond training,” she said.
Over a decade after its inception, AMTIS, Inc. has flourished providing professional and business processing services, leader development and training services leveraging technology-based solutions.
Keeping a Competitive Edge
Stankowski attributes the growth of AMTIS to many things, especially the emphasis she puts on both customer and employee relations. “I think that what really ended up being our competitive edge, because there were a lot of companies doing very similar work, was our responsiveness and ability to get back to the customer, answer questions and deliver quickly, effectively and on time,” she said.
“Always answering the phone, helping the client resolve problems, being involved, knowing them and my team knowing them,” Stankowski explained. “I think it was a lot about customer and employee relationships. I believed that if you took care of your people, your people would take care of your customer.”
A Great Place to Work
From the beginning, Stankowski knew one thing, she wanted to make AMTIS a great place to work. Believing that how you treated your employees affected how they treated your customers, to create an environment that was open and accepting to creative ideas.
“My job was to support them by giving them the tools that they needed, by giving them the autonomy to do their job and by rewarding and recognizing their achievements and celebrating their successes,” she said.
Although her journey with the Navy had ended, she continued to carry with her the things she learned, applying them as she led AMTIS.
“I think the leadership portion transferred over,” she said. “I think it’s important for CEO’s to remember they are the leaders and the role models for their organization. The lessons learned in decision making, in being a role model, in making sure your actions are consistent with your words – I think these were all lessons I brought from the Navy that made me a better leader for my organization.”
The Validation Needed to Continue
AMTIS, Inc. was selected by GrowFL as a Florida Companies to Watch honoree in 2012 where Stankowski says the award gave her and her employees the boost they needed to move forward.
“I think the first five years of any business is really hard, so at that point in 2012, it had been a tough five years and we had finally got things working,” she said.
“We were growing and accelerating and the recognition for the effort we had put in made us feel good, it motivated us to move forward with enthusiasm. Somebody recognized that effort and appreciated it.”
Three words of Advice
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Stankowski kept her advice short and sweet. “Three words: passion, patience and persistence. Be passionate about what you’re doing because you’re going to spend 24/7 doing it,” she said. “Be patient because it’s going to take longer than you think you’re your persistence will pay off in the long run.”