West Virginia Department of Commerce Personal commitment

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Personal commitment

Doing good work on military projects is more than a matter of professional pride.

It’s personal commitment.

“Over 30 percent of Azimuth’s employees are veterans, representing the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Air Force and Navy. The veterans who work for us are still serving their country,” Craig Hartzell, CEO of Azimuth Inc. said. “They were in uniform. Now they are supporting the next generation in uniform. We have personal commitments to those individuals. That’s a big motivator to do good work.

“Today, there are a number of programs that are specifically targeted to veteran-owned small businesses,” said Hartzell, who in 2000 was one of five presidential appointees named to the National Veterans Business Development Corporation. He was nominated by Sen. Jay Rockefeller. “That’s a big change in the last five years. Many activities of the federal government are looking to support veteran-owned companies. The federal government has recognized that veteran-owned small businesses are a national asset.”

Many of the companies in the High Technology Corridor include veterans among the ranks of their employees. Last Veterans Day, Global Science & Technology Inc. (GST)West Virginia Division recognized the former military personnel on its staff with an honorary luncheon.

“They traded stories about the branches in which they served,” said Brian Bell, vice president and general manager. “Brian Merandi served with U.S. Army Intelligence. His work with GST West Virginia includes serving on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/CLASS Requirement Definition Team. Our vice president of business development, John Chehansky, is a U.S. Navy ‘Top Gun’ graduate, was decorated for combat experience in Vietnam, and flew as a Blue Angel test pilot for three years. Others served in different ways in different branches, and we honor them all.”

GST melds science and technology in areas that range from biometrics to satellite communications. More than 40 percent of its 152 employees have graduate degrees in physical sciences, engineering or computing disciplines.

Of the 70-80 employees of GST West Virginia Division, 55 work in Fairmont. The rest connect from offices in Maryland, North Carolina and Colorado. The Fairmont location is close enough to Washington, D.C., to maintain relations with clients in federal government. At the same time, it is far enough away to offer qualify of life attractions, which for Bell include hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and spending time around rivers and lakes.

GST West Virginia specializes in enterprise data systems, meteorological applications and big ideas. The firm’s e-government unit provides the state and many counties of West Virginia with information technology support and document management.

The division’s largest single data systems contract, valued at $200 million, is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GST West Virginia is responsible for planning, designing and testing the enterprise system that houses data collected from NOAA.

“Scientists use data in the archive to study the environment and changing climate,” Bell said.
The company’s innovation engineering unit is dedicated to coming up with bright ideas with business potential, including a portable weather satellite system.

“This is the first affordable mobile weather system that uses an inflatable satellite dish,” Bell said. “Inflated, it looks like a six-foot-tall beach ball. In natural disasters when the traditional fixed satellite antenna has blown away, you can deploy the inflatable dish in 25-30 minutes, start gathering data from weather satellites immediately, and tear down in five minutes.”

Like many of the high technology companies, GST has found West Virginia is a good place to conduct business.

“From associations such as the Small Business Administration to local and state government, the representatives are very accessible and easy to work with,” Bell said. “They are interested in seeing things happen here.”