SBA Assistance: Scott Shinn is the President and CEO of Sustainment Solutions, Inc. (SSI). The company is a Veteran-Owned, HUBZone certified business and is a recent recipient of funding from the the STEP program for export assistance. Mr. Shinn also has received assistance from the SBDC in Lexington and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is administered now by the Kentucky SBDC Network. He volunteers for the SCORE-Lexington Chapter as well.
Veteran Owned Business: SSI is a Veteran-Owned Small Business owned by Scott and Amanda Shinn. As an Air Force veteran, Scott understands the value of veterans as employees, and most who work for SSI are veterans.
How Business Was Started: Mr. Shinn has over 20 years of Electrical/Military Discipline field experience. He career began in the U.S. Air Force in 1993, serving in Alaska and was later deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch. He completed his military career in 2002, but Scott returned to Iraq and Afghanistan as a Contract Field Service Engineer (FSE), with tasks that included managing, installing, maintaining, and servicing X-ray security equipment utilized by U.S. Military forces and NATO. After four years as a contract FSE, Scott understood the need for a company to provide similar services on a larger scale. He and his wife Amanda then started SSI from their home in December 2009. They soon had four contract engineers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan supporting an X-ray security manufacturer contracted by NATO and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Number of Employees: SSI is headquartered in Lancaster, KY and now has seven full-time employees and 40+ contractors worldwide.
Overcoming Diversity: SSI has experienced 700% growth in revenue since its inception and operates worldwide in tough, remote, and hazardous climates. Due to its rapid growth, which can often be the most vulnerable stage for a business, SSI developed strong operational procedures and excellent communications to ensure that the management team, logistics and finances were not stretched beyond recovery.
Due to the steps taken by SSI, the company footprint has grown beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to 25 countries and counting. SSI performs services, equipment installation and training around the world, including the following countries: Mexico, Saipan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brunei, and Japan. STEP program assistance from the SBA will be used for training, an international trade certification and future expansion globally.
SSI’s improvements in operations as well as its focus on emerging technologies has resulted in revenue growth of almost 500% over a three-year period, from $2.1 million in 2011 to $6.1 million in 2012 and $10.1 million in 2013. Revenue and profits continue to grow in a healthy manner.
Innovation: Scott is a true entrepreneur. He is always looking to invest in new technology and ideas, especially if it originates in the local community. SSI has expanded its role not only as an equipment service company, but also as an equipment installation and training company. In addition to the security sector, SSI also provides 3-D imaging services to inspect oil and gas pipelines. The company sees opportunities in providing services to the renewable energy sector, particularly wind turbines and solar panels. SSI also is on the cutting edge with drone technology, helping organizations use that technology for wide-ranging activities such as agriculture and law enforcement.
Because of Scott’s innovations, SSI was recognized by the Southeast Kentucky Excellence in Entrepreneurship award committee in 2013 as the Entrepreneur of the Year in the “Start-Up Business” category. He was also a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014 in the Southern Ohio and Kentucky region. SSI was recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2014 as a “Top 100 Small Businesses in the U.S.” and the only one from Kentucky last year. The company was also listed as an Inc. 5000 business, ranked #826 for fastest growing private company, the 16th fastest growing security company and the third fastest growing Kentucky company in 2014.
Contributions to the Community: One of the reasons Scott excels at entrepreneurship is his passion in philanthropy, as each entrepreneurial endeavor opens opportunity for philanthropy and volunteerism. Scott has a proven track record of seeking opportunities that benefit military veterans worldwide and children. He is an active board member for Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, a Kentucky-based organization that focuses on providing early education to children with significant disabilities and neurological disorders, and his company employees volunteer at the center, too. Also, each week Scott and Amanda deliver meals to local community veterans in need, and Scott has become a counselor and mentor for SCORE-Lexington.
Scott’s passion for veterans has been recognized by Kentucky Governor Beshear with an appointment to the Governor’s Advisory Board for Veterans Affairs. Recently, Scott revived the local post of the American Legion with an open house and dinner for local veterans to revitalize a post that has been inactive for several years. He is also an active member of the Kentucky District Export Council, appointed by Kentucky Secretary of Commerce, a board member of the American-Uzbek Chamber of Commerce, and is the head coach of the Garrard County youth football team. SSI also regularly hosts area high school students, in conjunction with Garrard County Chamber’s youth leadership and entrepreneurship program directors, to introduce those students to technology and career opportunities.
As a small business executive, Scott believes in maintaining a balance between work, family and community and has achieved success by incorporating family values and an open-door policy in all of his endeavors. He attributes the success of the company to the experienced, efficient and disciplined veterans who work for SSI.