Tracy Solomon, TEVET CEO and President, has created an Aerospace and Defense industry small business success over the past 15 years. He has seen the highs and lows – both in the industry and in the business of being an entrepreneur. Through it all though, he found the programs, people, and processes to become the preferred small business supplier in the industry.
With this experience and knowledge, the Department of Energy (DOE) approached Tracy to share his small business story at the 18th Annual Department of Energy Conference this past April. The small business program was created to bolster and expand the industrial base that contributes to national security, provides combat power for our troops, and economic power for our nation. Tracy is appreciative and enthusiastic for any opportunity to help grow other small businesses to meet these needs. Tracy took the stage with the Small Business Mentor Group consisting of other successful small business owners that work with the DOE.
Q: How do you know which customer or segment to work with?
A: Take the chance. In the beginning, I was focused on what I call “the warm market.” It wasn’t until a mentor approached me and said, “You can stand at the door with 6,000 other people trying to get a contract or you can do something different.” I chose to do something different. I found those customers or segments who needed my service, what TEVET does, and that matched with what TEVET stands for. By working with those customers, I found more success.
Q: What processes make TEVET stronger and successful?
A: Its people, processes, and tools. At TEVET, we focus on our people and making sure that they have the most powerful tools to help them do what they need to do day-in and day-out. From entry-level to the executive team, we ensure that they have everything that they need to be successful at their roles. By having these tools, their success translates into success with and for our customers because they can be quick, comprehensive, and precise with each interaction.
Q: What is your number one “rule” for being successful?
A: Take care of your people. My team knows that I am there to help each and every one of them if they need me – both professionally and in their personal lives. If I need to hop on a plane – because we have employees across the nation – then I will do it. My people, my team is like family to me.
At the end, Tracy left the room hoping that he inspired others to keep moving forward no matter hard it might seem currently. “If I can make it – a son from East Tennessee who grew up in the rural south – then anyone can make it.”