Florida company focuses on veteran employees
The Florida Times-Union
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Acrylic containers house a series of cables surrounded by saltwater as part of an experiment to see if a chemical coating can prevent corrosion on one of the many pieces of equipment that the U.S. Navy uses.
The small room off Deerwood Park on Jacksonville’s Southside with specifically aimed lighting and time-lapse cameras capturing the evolution of the experiment is indicative of some of the government contracts that Orion Solutions LLC finds itself in after 10 years of operations.
Rick Hoffman is the owner and founder of the business that bills itself as a “service disabled, veteran-owned small business.” Hoffman, himself a Navy veteran, has specialized in hiring military veterans to help handle the contracts that will likely generate a projected $3 million in annual revenue this year. That figure could rise to $4 million to $5 million in 2014.
Ryland Reamy, vice president of operations for Orion Solutions, is one of those military veterans who made the transition from a Navy career that ended in 2006 at Mayport Naval Station to the defense contractor that now has 18 employees.
Reamy said Orion Solutions takes mostly government projects involving technical and tactical training on military operating systems. They also provide curriculum development, instructional design, equipment design and leadership training.
From his office on Centurion Parkway, Reamy said Orion Solutions has found its niche in a specialized industry.
Q. Do many people know what you do? Do you have to explain that a lot?
A. It’s only a niche if you’re not involved in that area of expertise or services as a service provider. If you’re working with the [U.S.] Department of Defense or federal government and you’re working in the contracting areas and you’re providing services and goods to the government, then everyone that you end up working with or for knows exactly what you do. Outside of that, you do have to explain it.
Q. For somebody outside the industry, can you explain what you do when you get contracts? What are the taxpayers getting when there’s a contract with Orion?
A. As an example, we were just awarded a contract with the Navy Special Warfare Command for vehicle maintenance. Out of that, our employees and our company provide the maintenance service to keep those vehicles running. The longer the vehicles stay in commission, the longer they run and the longer they last, you’re obviously going to benefit because you’re not going to have to buy more vehicles.
Q. About your slogan, “a service disabled, veteran-owned small business,” why is that important to you?
A. It’s personally important to the company because that’s where we came from. So, any time you can hire a veteran or support a veteran, regardless of what sort of benefits are involved, it makes sense.
Q. Is there a preference toward veterans? Could there be employment issues there?
A. We’ll hire across the board. But as often as possible, we like to employ veterans. … We do that for technical reasons. They’re very familiar with the type of work that we do. There’s very little up-front training or indoctrination to any of the services that we provide. In most cases these guys are focused on the equipment.
Q. How about someone like yourself, with an extensive career in the military and now you’re in this contracting field. Is there a certain amount of satisfaction that you’re able to extend that military service into private industry?
A. Without a doubt. First, I like to give back to the active duty folks. I also enjoyed, as we all in the company did, what we did in the Navy and we felt very strongly about it. So, to continue that at some level is very satisfying.