ArgenTech Solutions, which is headquartered in New Hampshire but runs all of its defense-related operations out of a branch in east Vancouver, was one of five small businesses nationwide to receive the 2018 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
The following article is courtesy of The Columbian.
A local company contracted to provide drone pilots for the U.S. Department of Defense received a distinction at the Pentagon for its support of National Guard and Reserve employees.
“These guys competed with companies in all 50 states and four territories for one of five awards,” said Joel Scott, Washington’s outreach director for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
A quarter of ArgenTech’s 65 employees are members of the National Guard or Army Reserve. Reservists lead civilian lives, enrolled in school or working ordinary jobs, but keep up with their military training.
It’s a commitment. Active Guard Reserve members are required to drill one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
At a company such as ArgenTech, with drone pilots embedded among military units in war zones for months at a time, keeping up with those requirements poses an additional challenge.
“When they’re overseas for six months in Afghanistan, how do you do that?” asked Marcel Piet, the company’s president of defense services.
A Guard member acts as supervisor to all of ArgenTech’s drone pilots and technicians — or field service agents, as the company calls them — who are also reservists. That supervisor, Operations Manager and Army Reserve Capt. Jay Lorentz, helps them navigate the unique challenges of balancing Guard duties with monthslong commitments overseas.
“Jay knows all the rules, and Jay knows that you can bank three months by doing some early, then you can catch up three months once you come back,” Piet said. “If something happens that we missed, we bring a guy home earlier, and it’s generally on our own nickel so he can meet his Guard and Reserve requirements.”
Piet cited one example from early last year, in which a field service agent embedded with a non-military NATO team overseas hit a hurdle in his reservist training — the ArgenTech employee was going to miss his advancement exam.
“I said, ‘No you’re not, we’re going to fix this,'” Piet said.
Lorentz did some research and found out that the reservist could take his exam remotely, as long as a military officer above a certain rank was available to proctor it. But because the drone pilot happened to be working with a non-military NATO operation, nobody at his location qualified.
Piet reached out to one of the company’s former employees, a Guard member who had been reactivated and was serving as senior enlisted personnel for SEAL Team 7 in California.
“Being a SEAL Team member, they had access to additional resources — let’s just call it that,” Piet laughed. “They flew a helicopter from the SEAL Team base to pick him up at the NATO base, bring him over to have the test taken, then flew him back.”
Instances like that qualify as going “above and beyond,” Scott said.
“With our tempo and the different missions that we have, employers have to flex,” Scott added. “They’ve stepped up to that.”
Altogether, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve gives out 15 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards to companies large and small during the calendar year, with winners recognized at a ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. This year, 2,350 companies were nominated nationwide.
Lorentz nominated ArgenTech for the Employer Support Freedom Award.
In a press release, Lorentz said that the company also has certain policies in place that make transitioning between civilian and military life easier for its employees — it provides 30 days of annual paid leave and trains its supervising staff in mental health first aid to help identify and respond to signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s fierce. They have to go above and beyond,” Scott said. “They had to have somebody in the organization that was jumping up and down saying, ‘My employer deserves this.'”
ArgenTech Solutions, Inc. is a Veteran owned, small business headquartered in Newmarket, New Hampshire with an alternate office in Vancouver, Washington. In addition to overseas unmanned services support for the military, ArgenTech Solutions is a multi-faceted small business that specializes in technology development and the integration of those products into the marketplace. ArgenTech Solutions is an Equal Opportunity Employer.