With 25 years of various industry experience, a wireless technology infrastructure background and West Point Military Academy training, Edward Dort, founder and president of Directional Command LLC, is leading the charge to bridge the gap between veterans seeking employment and a telematics utilities sector in search of qualified talent. After five years in Atlanta as Director of the Wireless Division of PS Energy Group, Dort, who's originally from New Hampshire, moved to Naples in search of new opportunities and even warmer weather. It was in Naples where Dort got involved with a veterans program that ultimately led to the formation of Directional Command LLC at the Naples Accelerator.
"Being a veteran in the state of Florida is great," he said. "One of the creative things they do is an entrepreneurship program through Veterans Florida. They basically help vets start their own businesses. I went through the program and, in addition to coming up with my business concept, I learned that I had the qualifications to register the business as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. Doing so gives you advantages to go after programs within the federal government. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program was definitely the springboard that launched my business. The graduation was a Shark Tank type experience where you pitch your business in front of investors and try to get funding. Fortunately I walked away as a recipient of one of those grants."
Directional Command, leads and manages specialty infrastructure projects for government, utilities and telecom companies and also hires and trains veterans to work on projects. The company was officially founded in January of 2017. Other sectors and services include Transmission, Distribution Services, Emergency & Disaster Services, Telematics GPS, Staff Augmentation and Retainer Services. They also work with their clients to meet their Federal, State and Veteran Tier 1 or 2 Supplier requirements. Directional Command has been awarded and is successfully providing GPS Telematics service throughout the USA and Puerto Rico for several regions for the Department of Veterans Affairs - Gulf Coast, Kentucky, Cleveland, Charleston and Tampa. They've also provided High Voltage Maintenance for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
To further distinguish itself from some of the other competitors in the GPS Telematics market, Directional Command has access to over 200 hardware devices that they integrate with their Software as a Service Platform. The Platform is configurable in order to provide actionable and meaningful information for customer's business operations. Applications include Fleet Management, Marine Tracking, Hours of Service, Equipment Monitoring, Weather Tracking and Personal Tracking. Customers have access to a custom dashboard and robust mapping to enhance the service.
Dort shared some of the challenges he faced along the way and where he envisions taking Directional Command into the future. "Working with large companies and organizations requires working through a lot of bureaucracy," he said. "As a small business, you also still have to work hard, make the calls and build the relationships. The biggest challenge is definitely getting to clients, building the relationships and navigating the bureaucracy. Nevertheless, I'm focused on growing the company, adding employees and taking it to the next level."
Dort offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Find something you like and are passionate about and test the idea first on a part-time basis to see if someone will pay for your product or service," he said. "Really take the time to organize your business from the onset and conduct it like a business. You're going to have good days and bad days. It's not easy. If so, everyone would own their own business. There are, however, ways to mitigate some risks. The Veterans Florida program followed the Lean Startup Methodology and stressed the importance of mitigating risks, making the most of your resources, understanding who to hire and what jobs to outsource. You can limit your overhead by setting up proper processes and procedures, focusing on your core business and outsourcing what you need until the business can justify it."