Small Business Spotlight

OnPoint helps former military leaders find careers

By
From the February 2014 issue of Columbus CEO

At OnPoint Performance Solutions, they know first-hand how qualified many former military leaders are for jobs in the private sector.

Todd Miller, the company’s CEO and president, is a former Army Lieutenant Colonel who used the skills he honed in the Army to work as a director for Mission Essential. Miller oversaw the training and technical services group for the Columbus-based company, which provides operational solutions to the federal government, the intelligence community and friendly foreign governments.

OnPoint’s vice president for operations, Dan Whitney, also retired from the Army and found success in the business world. In addition to working for Mission Essential, Whitney served on the faculty of Ohio State University.

Today, they work together to help other former military leaders find fulfilling careers. 

“When you retire from the service, you’re not sure what’s out there,” Miller said. “We created this business around our passion, which is taking care of people.”

When Miller founded the company in 2010, he focused on providing staffing and training to companies working with the Department of Defense. Business ramped up when they were awarded a $12 million subcontract to provide practical support and services to the Army’s ROTC. OnPoint now has instructors supporting 23 university programs around the nation.

As the business developed, they realized that there were many former military leaders seeking rewarding work after retirement. They found that many companies help discharged service men and women find civilian work, however, none worked with former officers seeking advanced positions. 

OnPoint works with Orion International; a company that helps businesses attract and retain military talent at various hiring levels. The partnership helps both companies provide a greater spectrum of services.
It’s common for people to retire from the military after 20 or 25 years and still want or need to be in the workforce, Whitney adds. Those are the individuals OnPoint is targeting. 

“There’s no entity out there that helps these men and women move into their next career,” he says. “For a lot of folks, the longer they’ve stayed in the military, the harder it is to understand where they best fit.”

When Mark Hannon left the Army in 1997, he found a job as a third-shift supervisor in a plant. Other managers in the plant quickly recognized his strong leadership skills. Within 14 months, Hannon was promoted to a position of responsibility over one-third of the business.

OnPoint recently helped Hannon land a plant manager position. He agrees that many former service men and women need help communicating with potential employers. 

“There’s a need for it on both ends,” Hannon says.

OnPoint helps former military personnel write resumes and share their stories in a way that speaks to business leaders, Miller says.

They also help clients “step back and think about what it is that they want to do,” Whitney adds.

They have found that many civilian hiring managers and executives were not familiar with military job classifications and skill sets. Many military jobs easily align with traditional corporate jobs, Miller says. 

Miller and Whitney also try to convey that many former service people also have skill sets that their business counterparts may not share. 

“I don’t think a lot of corporations truly understand what they are getting when they bring in senior (military) leaders,” Whitney says.

Veterans, particularly those that have served abroad, may have had to work in unfavorable conditions, make critical decisions in unexpected settings and problem solve, adds Marc D. Peltier, president and CEO of Torden, a Columbus-based company that provides security and language solutions.

“They have experiences a normal businessman or businesswoman just wouldn’t have,” says Peltier, a veteran who has hired OnPoint to vet and recruit employees. OnPoint has played a key role in his company’s success. 

“They’re out there to be partners,” he says.

Miller and Whitney believe they have launched their business at the right time. Many national companies, including General Electric, AT&T and Microsoft, have made public commitments to hire veterans. Companies want to show their support to the men and women who have been fighting a war for the last decade, Miller says. 

As companies fill openings with former military personnel, they begin to see the many benefits of their military experience, he says. 

“When you hire former senior military leaders, you get men and women of character who do the right thing—these are people who have led at the highest levels under the most austere and challenging of conditions,” Miller says. “Our former senior military leaders bring a competitive edge to the companies they work in—their companies know it and they keep coming back for more.”

Melissa Kossler Dutton is a freelance writer.