Veteran small business owner achieves success in West Virginia
By Leslie Fitzwater
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. --
If Harry Siegel could speak to every veteran returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he would encourage them to make their home in West Virginia.
“West Virginia ‘gets it’ when it comes to veterans,” Siegel explained. “We have a large percentage of veterans as compared to other states, so you’re going to find people just like you who have the same kinds of feelings that you do about honor and duty and country. I think you will be treated with more respect and honor than you will in an average state where they don’t have a large veteran population like West Virginia does.”
Siegel, a service-disabled naval veteran of the Vietnam War, chose to make West Virginia his home 15 years ago. Although happy with his career as a government contractor, Siegel says that he wanted a lifestyle change. One Saturday morning he told his wife that he wanted to move from their Gaithersburg, Md., home and buy a horse farm. She responded by asking him how quickly they could relocate. “We wanted a life where you could see buthe stars at night, where people were kind and gentle.” After an extensive search, the Siegels found Maralie, a horse farm in Falling Waters, W.Va. Over the past decade and a half, Siegel and his wife have rescued more than 250 animals, including horses, dogs, cats, donkeys, goats, rabbits and a bull. “We have some creatures on the farm we don‘t even want,” he jokes.
When he is not spending time at Maralie, Siegel is president and CEO of a successful and award-winning company, HMS TECHNOLOGIES, INC., headquartered in Martinsburg. In the six years since he started HMS TECHNOLOGIES, the company has become a leader in information technology solutions and been recognized for multiple awards, including rankings on DiversityBusiness.com’s lists of top 100 privately-held businesses in the state, the top 100 disabled veteran-owned businesses in the United States and the nation’s top 500 veteran-owned businesses. In 2008, Siegel was named the West Virginia Small Business Person of the Year. This year, HMS has already received the 2009 DHS Small Business Achievement Award, the only service-disabled veteran owned small business in the country to do so, and been chosen for the second straight year by The State Journal as one of the "55 Good Things" about West Virginia.
Siegel attributes his success to two main principles. “There are two things that are absolutely crucial to me for us to be set apart and different than our competitors. One is the concept of responsiveness – every phone call, every e-mail, every day, everybody. I expect everyone in my corporation from the most senior to the most junior to operate that way,” he explains.
Secondly, Siegel employs the use of what he calls ‘the five C’s’ – Country, Clients, Colleagues, Corporation and Cost-Control. “It’s the way I run the company,” he says. “If something is not good for our country, or for the client that we’re getting ready to serve, or for my colleagues, teammates and/or contemporaries who will be working the effort, or my corporation or I can’t cost-control it, I will not go after it and will not perform the work.” Siegel likes to employ local talent whenever possible and sees West Virginia as a great recruiting ground. In fact, he says that he will be hiring service-disabled veterans like himself to work on a contract that is soon to be awarded to HMS TECHNOLOGIES. The company also is conducting a health care study that he says is arguably the most important and sophisticated longitudinal health care analysis ever awarded by the Veterans Administration (VA).
“We’re doing a study on 60,000 veterans, half of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan and half of whom, for whatever reason, were not deployed to the theater. We’re looking at the health care differences between the two groups, and ultimately will be helping the VA plan for health care delivery for the next 50 years. This is pretty powerful stuff for a small company, and we won this in front of a lot of big companies.”
To find out more about HMS TECHNOLOGIES, visit the Web site www.hmstech.com