“We serve those who serve because every hero deserves to come home.” This is the driving mission and purpose of ADS. “If you don’t rally around that purpose you won’t be successful,” said Jason Wallace, CEO of ADS during his address at the Chamber Leadership Series on June 12th.
Wallace discussed the humble origins of ADS from a 24-person dive shop to a 2 billion dollar, top 50 federal defense contractor in just 20 years. The exponential growth and success that ADS has achieved lies within their mission statement. While Wallace laid out a case study on his company, it was clear that ADS has a very defined sense of purpose, and it is that purpose, “serving those who serve,” that he attributes to the company’s success. It’s not just at the leadership level, but every single employee at every level that embraces the purpose and mission.
When he joined the company in 2004, he was met with a poster of the customer, the men and women serving in the armed forces. “Do you believe those men and women deserve the best operational gear possible? Work as hard as you can every day to make sure that they do,” Wallace said. Even as the company has experienced 30% growth year after year as the leading provider of operational equipment for the Department of Defense, they have not lost sight of the connection to the customer and their needs.
Wallace believes in that mission every day and it is what makes all the employees, he refers to as “teammates,” want to come in and do their job. “I’m going to help the men and women in the military get what they deserve. If you have purpose in what you’re doing, hard work is fun and fulfilling, but still a lot of hard work.”
Growth does have its challenges and Wallace pointed out that it is much easier to communicate your message when you are small, but his strategy over the years has been agility. “As we grew we had to remain agile and always focused on customer needs. Every individual at every level of the organization must feel empowered to help the customer. How does your daily task continue to add to that customers overall mission? Understanding the needs of our service member is the heart of our strategy,” Wallace said.
Looking to the future of ADS means following the same basic principles. “Focus on purpose, remembering why we are in business, provide the highest level of service, continue to monitor and be ready for change quickly, we understand constant change can be necessary, but believe in agility not bureaucracy. ADS is our people and we will continue to do things at ADS to keep them engaged.”
ADS has proved to be transformational to our military service members and their needs and Wallace aims to be “transformational to Hampton Roads. It’s bigger than gear, it’s bigger than Hampton Roads,” Wallace said.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and works to be an impactful advocate for the business community. Bryan K. Stephens, CEO & President of the Hampton Roads Chamber said Wallace’s address was a “Presentation rich in gold nuggets of value. We believe in the philosophy of reciprocity and truly successful businesses give back to the community,” Stephens said. ADS makes an impact on the community through “Mission Giveback” where they raise money for charities who serve the military community directly.
Stephens also asked Wallace about a definitive growth strategy for ADS. “We absolutely have goals and talk about the what and how, but the majority of our growth is attributed to everyone in the organization listening to our customers at all levels and adapting our business model to meet our customer needs.”
ADS, with Wallace at its helm is truly a model of leadership and success for the Hampton Roads region, our service members, and beyond.
Thank you to our series presenting sponsor, Southern Bank, our Series Silver Sponsors, Opportunity, Inc. and Vandeventer Black, LLP., Media Sponsor, Inside Business and Host Sponsor, The Westin Town Center.