Leaders in Diversity: Top three minority-owned businesses in Greater Baltimore

Our GATE client Adams Communication & Engineering Technology (ACET) was featured in this Baltimore Business Journal article:

Baltimore Business Journal | Maria Sieron

ACET opened an office at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 2011.

The Baltimore Business Journal has released its annual List of top minority-owned companies in Greater Baltimore, ranked by 2017 revenue. Below, learn more about how our top three companies were able to achieve success and what advice they have for other business owners.

Adams Communication & Engineering Technology (ACET)

Founded in 1999, Adams Communication & Engineering Technology (ACET) is a national security company focused on the intelligence community, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Defense Health Agency. The company opened its headquarters in Waldorf in 2005, followed by a Reston, Virginia, location in 2006. In 2011, ACET opened an office at Aberdeen Proving Ground to house its Defense Solutions and Software & Systems Divisions.

Charles Adams, the company’s founder and CEO, started his career as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army Military Intelligence and later worked for several other companies including Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems before starting ACET. Adams grew the company from a single employee to more than 450 today. While Adams said that credibility was a “major hurdle” for him as a minority business owner, he attributes hiring “smart, equitable staff members with strong value systems” as a major reason for ACET’s success.

Adams spoke with the Baltimore Business Journal about his company’s work, the future of cybersecurity and what’s next for ACET.

Charles Adams, Founder/Chairman/CEO of ACET

Name: Charles Adams

Title: Founder, chairman and CEO

Age: 57

Education: Bachelor’s in computer science, University of Maryland; bachelor’s in music education, West Chester University

What is the biggest difference between being a business owner in the IT/cybersecurity world now compared to when you founded ACET nearly 20 years ago?

Cybersecurity is one of the highest concerns for the state of Maryland as well as the entire nation. Twenty years ago, cybersecurity was localized. Now it touches every aspect of the IT industry.

How have you seen Maryland’s cyber market grow, and what do you see for the future? 

We have seen cyber requirements grow at the federal, state and local government levels, as well as in commercial areas. Cyber will continue to grow in both the defensive and offensive areas. As a result, the demand for Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified Ethical Hackers (CEHs) continues to grow.

In your view, what’s the greatest cyber threat we are facing today?

We are facing both foreign and domestic cyber threats over the next decade. Our whole infrastructure and business spectrum is integrated with information technology and potential vulnerabilities.

What are you most excited about for the future at ACET? 

We have several opportunities to provide greater impact in our nation’s defense and for national airspace. We are on two winning teams for the latest Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) initiative related to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), where we will be directly performing analysis, testing, and mitigation actions for cyber threats to UAS’s command and control links and software.

What is involved in your day-to-day? How do you balance your time? Do you find it difficult to manage a work-life balance?

I actually have three businesses that I manage. By providing clear responsibilities and authorities to my senior staff, my job is to fix problems and to ensure we are on the correct path to success. A work-life balance is very important to me, especially with my new son that was just born this year. I work hard to ensure that my priorities are in order. I put in the hours needed for ACET when needed (including getting up at 4:30 in the morning for key customer meetings), but also take time for the family to de-stress and enjoy them. I also reinforce this attitude with my staff.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?

Growing ACET without compromising our integrity.

What is your favorite hobby? What do you do with your free time? 

Other than my three businesses and family, I do like to spend time going to car shows and collecting a few limited models. In fact, my wife recently gave me a fully restored and updated 1955 Chevy Belair.

Do you have a personal mantra?

Yes: “If they can do it, why can’t I?”

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a technology company today?

Spend time as an employee learning multiple aspects of the technical side of the business before venturing out on your own. Do not discount partnering as a viable route to obtaining your goals.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2018/06/08/top-three-minority-owned-business-baltimore.html