Veteran Franchise Coaching

Vetrepreneur Franchise Workshop   |   May 3

Franchise Workshop   |   May 3

Nominate the Next Vetrepreneur® of the Year!

Nominate the Next Vetrepreneur® of the Year!

Staci Redmon: Military to SAMS CEO Triumph

Staci Redmon 2017 Woman Vetrepreneur® of the year

Staci Redmon, founder and CEO of Strategy and Management Services (SAMS), deployed strategic vision and healthy doses of determination, patience and self-discipline to achieve phenomenal results for her company. In less than seven years, the company that began as an idea on a sheet of paper is now a flourishing firm with a bright future. NaVOBA and our friends at JPMorgan Chase are proud to name Staci L. Redmon the 2017 Woman Vetrepreneur® of the Year.   

It was a mere lack of options, coupled with a family legacy of military service, that first led Staci Redmon to join the Army after graduating from her small-town high school in 1984. She served in the Signal Corps for six years before an injury led to her discharge. And yet, though she’s long been a civilian, Redmon has blazed an impressive career trail that’s enabled her to continue serving our nation and its military in one way or another since the day she first became a soldier. 

After her discharge in 1990, Redmon got her first degree, an associate’s in computer electronics (in itself no small feat, as by then, Redmon had three small children at home and an active-duty military husband). 

Bringing Tech to the Troops

Soon after getting her degree, Redmon was hired by TRW, where she dove into the emerging digitization industry, bringing technology like GPS to the battlefield. This was the kind of work that energized Redmon, who relished the opportunity to help bring valuable new tools to her former fellow soldiers. 

During her tenure at TRW, Redmon also seized an opportunity to return to school, this time getting her bachelor’s in computer software.

“I was a true systems analyst before there were systems analysts,” Redmon joked. “At this point, I knew both the hardware and software sides (of program development), and was appointed the lead embedded engineer on a new digitization initiative. I got to go to the Balkans for nine months to help get the program deployed,” Redmon continued. 

While she admits it was tough to leave her family, it was also an incredible opportunity. 

“I knew we had this amazing capability, and it was great to be able to get it over there where it was so needed by our military,” Redmon said.  

Learning the Life cycle

After working on another program for TRW, Redmon got involved in testing and evaluation for the company, which was in the process of becoming Northrop Grumman, before taking a position with Booz Allen Hamilton in 2004. Over the next few years, Redmon continued her schooling, getting her graduate certificate in procurement and federal contracts management as well as her MBA in acquisition. 

While employed at Booz Allen, Redmon worked at Army headquarters, where she had the chance to see how the military was aquiring programs. 

“At this point, I’d had the opportunity to be involved in the entire program life cycle, from concept to acquisition. I was sitting in these meetings and watching some critical programs not get funded,” Redmon explained. “I’d been working in the defense space for over 20 years at this point, and I started thinking, ‘There’s a better way to do this. How can we get the work we need completed and get the capabilities we need at a fair price?’” 

PHOTO BY ERIN J PHOTOGRAPHY

“I was sitting in these meetings and watching some critical programs not get funded. I started thinking, ‘There’s a better way to do this.’”

Staci Redmon, Founder and CEO, Strategy and Management Services (SAMS)

From Frustration to Action

It was during these meetings that the idea for SAMS began to form in Redmon’s mind. Yet despite—or perhaps because of—the depth and breadth of experience she’d already amassed, Redmon was extraordinarily patient and deliberate in the steps she charted next. Realizing that starting her own company would put her squarely in unfamiliar territory—that of a small business owner, when the bulk of her experience had been with massive corporations—Redmon made her next move. 

“I had a friend who had a small business that she was looking to grow into a medium-size one,” Redmon explained. “I joined her team in 2007 and helped her add the capabilities she needed to get to the next level, while at the same time learning all about small business.”  

After 15 months with Binary Group, Redmon decided she was ready to leave the security of her salaried position behind.

“And then the hard work really began!” Redmon exclaimed. “I think when you know you’re ready, you need to go all in and not have an escape hatch.” 

Redmon launched SAMS on paper, going through all the steps of establishing it as a registered company. 

Relationships and Resources

And yet, even then, she still didn’t start going after contracts. True to form, Redmon sought more knowledge. She reached out to experts in the contracting and procurement fields and asked them to mentor her. 

“I explained that I wasn’t trying to sell to them, I was just hoping to learn from them. That opened the opportunity for dialogue.” 

She asked them how they evaluated whether small businesses were procurement-ready, and they not only offered her feedback, but they referred her to companies she should look to as examples. For a year-and-a-half, Redmon simply learned and networked. 

“They really mentored me, and I was so fortunate that they were willing to give me their time. Once I got to the point where I was leading the conversation with my mentors, rather than asking questions, I knew I was ready.” 

“You should also use all the socioeconomic statuses that you are eligible for, because you never know which one is going to be the determining factor that gets you the business.”

Staci Redmon, Founder and CEO, Strategy and Management Services (SAMS)

Official Business

Redmon’s first SAMS project came in 2009 through a friend in government. After winning the work, Redmon hired two employees to manage the project—having learned from her mentors that she herself should manage and lead the company, entrusting the billable work to her team. 

Soon after, Redmon was accepted into the SBA’s 8(a) program. After returning to her home office after the first day of orientation, she got a call from a contracting officer asking if she was in the 8(a) program. Redmon was, of course, able to say yes, and within a couple of weeks, SAMS landed its first 8(a) contract. 

COVER IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN J PHOTOGRAPHY

Differentiating Factors

Since then, SAMS has continued to amass contract vehicles, including EITS, GSA IT 70, OPETS and Seaport-e, as well as socioeconomic statuses, such as SDVOSB and SDB. Redmon advises getting all the contract vehicles that you’re able to secure. 

“None of them hurt to have, and while I know the applications do take a lot of time, I think as a business owner, it’s just what you have to do to get business,” Redmon says. “You should also use all the socioeconomic statuses you are eligible for, because you never know which one is going to be the determining factor that gets you the business.”

Prime Opportunity

Unfortunately, Redmon found that prime contractors were writing proposals and listing SAMS as a subcontractor (in order to leverage SAMS’ socioeconomic statuses to win contracts). But even when the primes won the projects, SAMS never saw any of the work.

It was a classic bait-and-switch, and Redmon wasn’t having any of it. She decided that SAMS would start writing its own proposals, billing the company as a prime contractor, rather than a sub. 

“I started responding to small solicitations to build our proposal library, and I would always ask for a debriefing on proposals, whether we were successful or not,” Redmon explained. “As a result, most of our work to date has been as the prime. The government has now implemented protections for small businesses to prevent what had been happening to us and others, but I think ultimately it was good for us. It just made me work harder!” 

Today, SAMS provides an extensive range of back office support and building services that are aimed at freeing SAMS’ clients to focus on their core objectives. Though it has a variety of customers, SAMS primarily serves the military and government organizations. 

Redmon is passionate about hiring and working with veterans, and thanks
to SAMS’ “Veterans First” policy, the company’s employee population consists of more than 75 percent veterans and veterans’
family members. 

Social Responsibility

Redmon is also particularly proud of her company’s philanthropic arm, SAMS Cares. Launched in 2014, SAMS Cares encourages employees to participate in community-based volunteer projects. Throughout the year, SAMS Cares partners with organizations across the country, such as Easter Seals, Wreaths Across America, Sojourner House and the Sierra Vista Police Officers Association. The company also recently announced a new employee volunteerism initiative that allows employees to take up to eight hours of paid time per year to engage in volunteer work. 

Over the past few years, Redmon has received numerous leadership awards, and SAMS has been recognized for its impressive growth. Unsurprisingly, Redmon credits her military start. 

“Veterans make great business owners. We have innate leadership abilities, and we know how to figure things out and make things work with few resources,” Redmon explained. “With the right amount of persistence and resilience, you can overcome any obstacles in your way and come out on top.”  

Sage advice from a woman who’s already claimed a hard-won spot.  

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