(Editor’s note: The Colorado Springs Business Journal annually celebrates the city’s fastest-growing companies with a celebration and awards ceremony.)
Summit Technical Solutions was founded in 2001 by CEO Kelly Terrien.
A Department of Defense contractor, the company has grown from acting as a subcontractor to holding 21 prime contracts, with more than 300 employees and more than $28 million in revenue in 2015.
Describe your business.
Founded in 2001, Summit Technical Solutions LLC is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, Woman/Veteran-owned Small Business. We provide the Department of Defense and federal government with systems engineering, test and training, operations and maintenance, and data management services.
Why are you successful?
I attribute my success, in part, to my tenacity, perseverance and relationships with many industry partners. My parents and upbringing were a supportive foundation from the beginning. Their influence drove me to provide something of value to others. They instilled in me the passion and drive to reach for higher accomplishments, but many others also played a role. I can recall countless individuals who helped over the years: The Small Business Administration acted as a gateway for me to grow my small business; industry partners who helped win the company’s first contract awards; and mentors throughout the years, both formal and informal.
What are some of your challenges?
I’ve always considered challenges to simply be “part of the job.” I also believe nothing is insurmountable, and view challenges as ways to improve. My first challenge as a CEO was getting financing without a record of past performance, all while running a newly created small business.
How do you keep staff engaged?
STS has been recognized for our work environment and employee satisfaction by many sources, including Great Places to Work and Inc. magazine. Our values as a company include treating others with respect and dignity — and this value does not stop at our customers. I understand that happy employees are effective employees. STS takes every step to ensure employees are engaged, but you don’t have to take my word for it:
Jeff Benesh, director of space programs says, “New opportunities, new technologies and new challenges are common at STS. The possibilities presented by the Colorado Springs space market keeps me both engaged and excited. It’s great to be a member of a progressive organization that recognizes the importance of space.”
Tyler Bricking, business development manager says, “Everyone is challenged with making STS a better workplace. This is in part due to our quality policy of continuous improvement, but also stems further from work environment and team collaboration. ‘Doing things better’ encompasses both customer service and workplace morale, but also leadership buy-in. What keeps me engaged and enthusiastic is trying to meet this challenge on a daily and continual basis.”
David Nelson, IT and facilities manager says, “The company is forward-thinking and embraces new ideas and technology. Senior management is willing to listen to new ideas and developing technology to increase productivity.”
How do you avoid becoming risk-averse?
As an entrepreneur, growth and challenges are exciting and fuel my fire to be better. I believe good strategic planning, a good management team and knowing the business landscape supports STS not being risk-averse. In my experience, taking risks most often leads to great rewards. If one wants to continue to develop and be better, facing and accepting new challenges is an absolute must. If you don’t accept new challenges, you chance stagnating, and that is bad news for any business.
Do you have advice for other business owners?
• Take advantage of mentor-protégé relationships to the best of your ability.
• Learn from others, and from your mistakes, and continue improving.
• Work hard and show your appreciation to those who help you succeed.
• Focus your business on what makes you great.
What do you think of the Colorado Springs business environment?
Not only is Colorado Springs one of the most beautiful places to own a business, Colorado has an outstanding business environment. The new Catalyst Campus and the space and technical programs are important assets to the Pikes Peak area.