When defense contractor Exelis created a spin-off of its Mission Services division last year, Ken Hunzeker found himself at the helm of Colorado Springs’ largest publicly traded company. Hunzeker, CEO and president of Vectrus Inc., is a third-generation military man and retired as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Army before becoming commander of a company in which he continues to serve the country. He’s also a devoted family man with four daughters and nine grandchildren. Hunzeker spoke to the Business Journal this week about his military career, coming to Colorado Springs and leading Vectrus.
Where are you from originally? Tell us about your background.
I come from a military family. My grandfather served in World War II; my dad was commissioned during the Korean War and ultimately commanded a battalion in Vietnam. My dad served in the Army and was a career logistician. He retired at the rank of major general and is a member of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Hall of Fame. My wife Patti and I have been married almost 40 years and have four daughters and nine grandchildren, with one more due any day now. I served 35 years in the Army as a career artillery officer and was blessed to command at every level from battery to corps. I was commissioned at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 and I have earned master’s degrees from the Naval Post-Graduate School and the National Defense University.
What brought you to Colorado Springs and how has your career evolved here?
I joined ITT Defense in late 2010 after retiring from the Army. I joined as the government relations officer at the corporate headquarters in McLean, Va. Within six months, I was asked to move to Colorado Springs to lead the Mission Systems Division of ITT Defense as the division president. Within a year of my arrival, we participated in the spin-off from ITT to Exelis, a stand-alone aerospace and technology corporation. A year ago, in September 2014, we again spun-off, only this time from Exelis to Vectrus, a publicly traded, global government services organization providing facilities, IT and logistics support to our customers around the world. With the spin-off, we also became the largest publicly traded organization in Colorado Springs. My experience leading this organization during the past five years has fit nicely with my past military deployment background.
What would you like to accomplish while leading Vectrus?
Vectrus recently celebrated its one-year birthday as a publicly traded company. However, we have a 70-year legacy in the services market space and were first incorporated in June 1945. Vectrus provides values-based and affordable support services to U.S. government customers around the world, the large majority of which are military. Everything we do at Vectrus — our vision — is focused on making this company the customer’s first choice and most trusted partner. We provide value-added solutions that are designed to make our customers successful. They are competitively priced, operationally excellent and delivered by a global workforce that is effective and efficient. My vision for Vectrus is to continue to provide our value proposition to our customers.
How do you feel about the business community in the Springs?
I was honored to serve as the president of the Pikes Peak Chapter of Association of the United States Army for three years and I met the community leaders first-hand, and in my opinion, Colorado Springs is a great place to live and work. In my view, the business community is healthy and effective. We are members of the Regional Business Alliance and the Military Affairs Council, among other organizations. We take our role as a leader in the business community very seriously.
Is there a mantra or mission statement that you most identify with? How does that influence your work?
Vectrus is a blended name, made up of parts of two words that have meaning to our employees. The first half, “Vec,” is short for vector which is defined as a force with magnitude and direction. Like a vector, our company is characterized by consistent operational excellence, exceptional performance and forward movement. The second half of the name, “trus,” derives from the word trust. Our employees told us this is the essence of our company and a hallmark of what we deliver to our customers. Our mantra is our tagline: “True to your Mission.” When we established the Vectrus brand, we sought employee input as to the true value of our company. They told us many things, but truth, trust, integrity and responsibility resonated most with them. This is the notion that comes across in our brand promise which is articulated in the phrase “True to our word, True to your mission.”
What do you do in your spare time?
First is family. I am never happier than when my wife and I are around our daughters, their husbands and their children — the grandchildren.
I am also an avid golfer and enjoy golf outings with friends at interesting locations around the country and the world.