In June of this year, JetCo Solutions was named Veteran-Owned Business of the Year by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce through their annual EPIC Awards. The EPIC Awards celebrate businesses and people who are doing great things in the business community by being Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative and Collaborative. Seven categories of awards recognize businesses and individuals supporting the community, demonstrating growth, finding ways to innovate, and are working with others as mentors and collaborators.
Throughout the process for the EPIC Award, we were asked some thought-provoking questions which forced us to document our accomplishments, strengths and community involvement. The questions challenged us and inspired us. We enjoyed the process of addressing them, and we thought we would share our responses because they provide insight into who we are and what makes us tick.
What does success look like to your business?
Success for our business is the success of our clients. Government contract wins are good. We work with clients to set sales goals and we track and report on our progress toward achieving them. Contract wins lead to client revenue, which leads to clients hiring more employees and being more profitable.
We started in 2009 with the singular goal of giving small companies access to a qualified, capable, complete government sales team. So far, that success is measured by contract wins valued at more than $2.95 billion with 268 separate government agencies at the local, state and federal levels. And we’re not done.
What advice would you give to other business owners?
- Don’t stifle your creativity.
- Don’t be afraid to fail, but don’t leverage your failures with debt.
- Embrace innovative concepts from your team and your trusted advisors.
- Your business isn’t about you. It’s about your customer.
Advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?
This is a fun question because we have a budding entrepreneur at home. Our 17 year-old thinks differently because his parents are entrepreneurs. Our advice is to be ready for a fun ride and hard work. Also be coachable and listen to smart people who have failed.
Why did you start your business in Grand Rapids?
We started our business in Grand Rapids because this is our home. We never even contemplated starting it anywhere else and we have no plans to leave.
What do you value about doing business in Grand Rapids?
We value the people here. West Michigan small business leaders are genuinely loyal and hard-working. And the Grand Rapids region is home to such vibrant, clever, strong second stage companies, which is our type of client to work with. Several of our longest, most successful client relationships are also our west Michigan neighbors.
We want each client to win government contracts… but it’s most fun – and we’re most proud of – the wins we’ve had for companies who are neighbors here in west Michigan. We get to see the community impact of increased revenue and increased employees… and because we genuinely like them. Some of our closest friends in Grand Rapids are also clients.
This is the first year for the Veteran-Owned Business EPIC category. What does being the inaugural award recipient mean to you?
Recognition as the 2015 Veteran-Owned Business of the Year is incredibly meaningful to us. Everyone on our team is a freakishly passionate small business advocate in our focused little niche. Also, this award came from our chamber – from THE organization in west Michigan whose entire mission is to help small companies thrive. That recognition is powerful.
In addition, the recognition in the veteran owned business category is terribly significant for us because of our passion for veteran entrepreneurship. We work hard to help other veteran business owners, because they have a special place in our mission. We’re crazy proud of Jon’s military service, and that of his dad and his brother.