Air Force Veterans Now Emerging Leaders in Small Business

Dr. Lance Chenault, ABDA President & CEO

In 2017, the U.S. Air Force celebrates 70 years of airpower, thanks in part to the innovation of small businesses. Entrepreneurs have helped the military research and develop top-of-the-line technology with new ideas and opportunities. Since founding Aerospace Business Development Associates in 1986, Air Force veterans Dr. Lance Chenault, Dr. Mike Braydich and Mr. Matt Di Biase have made it their mission to connect aerospace businesses with the Department of Defense.  Via the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders program, ABDA is better poised to innovate and expand.

“The Emerging Leaders class helped us to make our message more impactful,” Chenault said. “The course was truly invaluable because it allowed you to network with other businesses and share best practices.”

The free program, which is offered at more than 50 cities across the nation, is designed for established small business owners interested in expanding an existing business. The curriculum includes 40 hours of in-class training, seven CEO mentor group sessions and coursework assignments, as well as the opportunity to develop connections with their peers, city leaders and financial communities.

The Air Force veterans took that training and are working on expanding ABDA from five to 15 employees. Chenault says that the business thrives on building relationships and a passion for excellence.

“We are able to help our clients navigate the complex Air Force Acquisition Process because we know the people, processes and culture. By working with the right businesses, we are dedicated to ensuring that the warfighter has the best technology available.”

He believes that small businesses can only succeed through passion.

“You can’t be in the business just to make money. You have to believe in what you’re doing to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.”

Nationwide, SBA Emerging Leaders graduates have seen measurable success in job creation, revenue increase and securing government contracts. Nearly 70 percent have reported they achieved revenue growth and more than 80 percent created new jobs or retained all existing jobs. Further, they have secured more than $700 million federal, state, local and tribal contract awards. For additional information on the Emerging Leaders program, visit

Company Name: 
Aerospace Business Development Associates
Fairborn, Ohio