As U.S. military operations in Afghanistan draw to a close, Maryville-based Vanquish Worldwide is shifting gears to domestic opportunities and expanding into new lines of business.
Vanquish has translated its experience moving fuel, equipment and supplies for coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan into a domestic trucking division. The company is also expanding into vocational and career training services through the acquisition of two Colorado-based firms.
To give the company more room to grow, Vanquish opened in June a 17,000-squarefoot headquarters in Maryville.
Eric Barton, a 39-year-old Marine veteran who founded Vanquish in 2007, hopes the diversification will insulate the company from the ups and downs of government contracting.
Growth at home, however, won’t be at the expense of the company’s original operations, he adds. Several recent contracts will keep Vanquish in Afghanistan in the foreseeable future.
“Even after the majority of the troops withdraw, we’ll still be performing retrograde services. Even the sustaining forces and the Afghan government will require bullets,Band-aids and food,” he says.
A relationship with global delivery giant FedEx, however, is fueling Vanguish’s domestic trucking operation, as well as recently inked deals with Denso and Rubbermaid, both of which operate in Blount County.
The company operates about 34 percent of the Nashville pickup and delivery market for the FedEx terminal there, delivering about 1.2 million packages. It invoices $1.4 million with FedEx annually for the operation. Barton would like to do the same with FedEx’s Knoxville routes, which he plans to acquire this summer.
Vanquish also began in February providing FedEx line haul services, delivering loads between terminals, prompting Barton’s confidence that the company can garner $10 million in FedEx revenue for 2015. Currently Vanquish carries excess orders FedEx’s own drivers cannot fulfill, but is working toward its own dedicated routes. “That’s really where the growth and sustainability is for us,” said Barton.
Barton is expanding Vanquish’s capabilities to qualify for that opportunity and others organically and through acquisitions.
A $5.6 million deal to acquire Nashville-based PAC Trucking, with 23 trucks, is expected to close in August.
Finding qualified drivers — an industry-wide challenge — is more difficult for Vanquish because of its defense contracts.
With the acquisition of Colorado-based Front Range Training and Consulting and its sister company Peak Technical Institute, Vanquish is looking to create its own solution.
“Peak Technical Institute is really a core growth business of ours,” Barton says. “Government contracting can have its ups and downs with markets and budgets, but people need to be trained. As the economy is coming back, manufacturing is moving back into the states, things are being moved, people need to be trained.”
Peak, which provides training primarily to off-road delivery drivers from Colorado’s oil fields, earlier this year added a commercial driver curriculum and is awaiting licensing by the state.
Other Peak programs include training for unexploded ordnance technicians, hazardous waste operations, emergency response, and oil and gas safety awareness. Peak is also launching programs in protocol and professional household management.
Front Range’s core offering is law enforcement training and its programs have been used by police forces from Chicago to Los Angeles. The company will soon train SWAT teams in Maryville and Blount County.
The new ventures won’t eclipse overseas services in the near future.
Barton estimates $9 million of the company’s $12.5 million first quarter revenue came from overseas.
The company continues to deliver materials within Afghanistan, and recently reopened an Iraq office after a two-year hiatus, he adds.
“I guess every person has to decide what makes them tick, and for me it’s being around different people, different challenges, and so the companies, — as diverse as they may seem, they have a common vision — that’s delivering excellence,” Barton says. “In transitioning into the civilian market, we do the same things here that made us successful over there — have the best equipment, the best-trained people and team that’s passionate about the job we’re doing.”
Vanquish Worldwide. The name evokes power and distance with a sense of precision and vagueness all at once. Sort of like the military. That’s no coincidence.
Consider the founder, president and CEO. Eric Barton spent 11 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He intended to make a career of the corps. Stuff happened.
Stuff happening today includes a ribbon-cutting at Vanquish Worldwide’s new headquarters, 235 S. Old Glory Road, Maryville. The event will last 3 p.m.-6 p.m. with the ribbon sliced at 4 p.m. There will be refreshments, music, door prizes, even exotic horses.
Vanquish Worldwide describes itself as “an asset-based premier transportation provider that delivers a wide variety and the highest level of transportation and logistic solutions for government and commercial clients.”
Here’s what Barton calls his elevator speech: “We’re a supply team management government contracting firm. What we do is deliver excellence to our clients.” The stuff they deliver includes fuel, food, ammunition, armored vehicles — all sorts of materiel the U.S. government moves around Afghanistan.
“Our mantra in our years overseas has been: Support the war fighter forward in developing nations in hostile environments. That means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But we support the war fighter in the mission they have, which means beans, bullets, Band-aids, transportation, helicopter support,” Barton said. “That’s been something we’re very proud of. To do something you really love to do that’s challenging, diverse, means something.”
It started when Barton joined the Marines at age 17. He was a “satellite technician for five years, got a meritorious commission, spent the last six years as an intelligence officer, had a sniper platoon for a couple of years, did a few pumps (deployments). Spent my last two years in Horn of Africa traveling around gathering intelligence for war.
“Which helped me out tremendously as I got out later on and went to seminary and transitioned to government contracting. It wasn’t planned.”
So naturally, Barton ended in seminary school in Atlanta and worked as a youth pastor in Conyers, Ga. His career path is anything but boring.
“Writing his bio can be challenging at times,” said Dawn White, sales and marketing manager for Vanquish Worldwide.
White outlined what’s happening now at the company. Vanquish has just been awarded a National Afghan Trucking contract (NAT 1.5) in Afghanistan — one of seven contractors selected for the more than $200 million deal. Vanquish’s cut will be $37 million. The company also just landed a Corps of Engineers HVAC contract in Loudon.
As U.S. involvement in Afghanistan winds down, the company is expanding into commercial trucking. It has contracted with FedEx and has trucks at the delivery firm’s Nashville terminal. It’s on schedule to add 11 FedEx trucks with drivers at the Knoxville terminal by the end of June. The company plans to acquire another trucking company and its 23 trucks in August.
As part of its diversification, Vanquish Worldwide has a couple of subsidiaries, Front Range Training & Consulting LLC. That sister firm recently completed a class training U.S. Air Force airmen to be aides for three- and four-star generals. New law enforcement training classes are filling up now in the Western U.S., and the company is looking into SWAT training for East Tennessee law enforcement, White said.
Peak Technical Institute provides condensed vocational training programs. It currently provides Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) classes, and a BETA equine leadership class is scheduled to begin in early August.
Equine leadership? It doesn’t seem so outside the box considering Barton also has LexLin Gypsy Ranch in Rockwood. Barton said it is the largest Gypsy Vanner horse farm in the U.S. The breed of draft horses (think of small Clydesdales) comes from England, Ireland and Wales.
LexLin Ranch recently sold more than $75,000 worth of horses in one month. The ranch plans to make 30 horse donations over the next two years to therapy centers. The gentle nature of the breed makes Gypsy Vanners well-suited for equine therapy for recovering military as well as autistic and special needs children. A horse auction is planned for July 26, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.
White cited a number of other community involvement and charitable contributions, ranging from United Way of Blount County, to Foothills Land Conservancy, to Keep Blount Beautiful, to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, where Barton established an endowment of $100,000 and matches other donations that come in dollar for dollar.
On the job in Iraq
It’s a lack of dollars that eventually turned Barton into a businessman. He had planned to rejoin the Marines after seminary school, but while in Atlanta he and his wife, Mechelle, found themselves in a 900-square-foot apartment with five kids and in debt. Two of the children had been adopted from Ethiopia, where Barton met the founder of Americans for African Adoptions.
“So I started going to job fairs, and I found a guy that had a contract in Iraq making decent money — more than I’d ever made before, that’s for sure. So I said, I’ll take it.”
He’d never seen a government contract, but Barton ended up being the first contract manager for the company.
“We were very successful. In fact they went from a $40 million company to $285 million in a year-and-a-half,” Barton said.
Barton quit that job, deciding to start a business of his own. He was familiar with East Tennessee because he, an Illinois native, and his wife, from North Carolina, had often driven through Knoxville. They moved to Friendsville, where he founded his first company in 2006, Relyant, “a global provider of solutions to complex projects.”
Over the years Barton founded, closed, bought and sold several companies. Now, with Vanquish Worldwide at the core and Front Range Training and Peak Technical Institute as wing firms, Baron is adjusting to a business environment less reliant on government contracts.
“All three companies share the same thought process of delivery excellence to the client. It’s important for us, how we do business and how we treat our customers — make sure we’re asked to come back again. It’s a long-term vision not a short-term profit,” Barton said.
It’s almost like playing a pinball machine with three balls bouncing down the table at once.
“It’s the symphony in the chaos, that’s for sure,” Barton said.
Gypsy Gift™ has been in the planning phase for quite some time. We’re excited to roll out a new program on Valentine’s Day 2014 to match LexLin Gypsy Horses with sponsors to raise and train them for future career placement with non-profit organizations as equine assisted therapy and activity horses. There are 850+ Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) Centers across the US and around the world. Horses impact and enrich the lives of the developmentally disabled, sick, injured, troubled and developing lives on a daily basis through these programs. We believe Gypsy Horses are ideally suited to this type of work. Can Praxis, an equine therapy program in Canada, has had amazing results in working with post traumatic stress disorder in veterans and these results are similar to what happens on a daily basis in equine assisted therapy programs all around the country.
Eric and Mechelle Barton of LexLin Gypsy Ranch have enjoyed amazing success with their businesses over the past few years and are constantly looking for ways to pay it forward and give back to communities around the world. Their family and businesses have donated in excess of $6.8 million to charitable organizations, including land conservancy, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warrior, and others in 2013 and now feel that it is time to reach out and touch the lives of others by giving some of their much loved Gypsy Horses via Gypsy Gift™ to centers across the United States. LexLin Gypsy Ranch has donated several Gypsy Horses over the past few years to PATH accredited programs. We have received many thanks and glowing reports of the work our horses are doing and requests to expand our program.
Over the next two years LexLin Gypsy Ranch’s mission is to donate 30 registered Gypsy Horses (total donation valued in excess of $500,000) to the Gypsy Gift™ program while simultaneously finding eligible sponsors who will train them for approved PATH accredited centers. If one center on average, reaches 25 people on a weekly basis, that gives 30 Gypsy Horses a chance to impact lives 39,000 times in one year alone! Imagine how many lives can be touched over 20+ years with 30 horses! LexLin Gypsy Ranch will donate Gypsy horses to centers after 2-3 years of a sponsor leasing and raising/training them through Gypsy Gift™ . The sponsor will give the horse daily handling in preparation to start their official training to become a therapy horse once they’re 3-4 years of age. This also allows the center time to decide if the horse will be suited to their particular program. By donating young horses they will have many years to impact lives in the programs and can be trained exactly as needed for their job as a therapy horse. Ideally we’re looking for nominated centers who find a sponsor that will raise and train the horse for them for 2-3 years. The horse may be housed at the center or at the sponsor’s chosen facility. Sponsors may be Center board members, staff or others that want to participate in Gypsy Gift™. In some situations sponsors may opt to arrange to pay the center for the care of the horse which would enable the horse to be cared for directly by the center. This may qualify as a charitable donation if made directly to the center. This would enable the center to become directly involved with the care of the horse and give the horse the opportunity to interact with center members from the beginning of their 2-3 year lease period before donation.
We need your help to make this program a success!
Beginning on Friday, February 14, 2014, and continuing through July 3rd 2014, we will begin taking nominations for PATH accredited centers interested in receiving a Gypsy Horse through Gypsy Gift™. As nominations come in we will post them on LexLin Gypsy Ranch’s fan page on Facebook for you to “like” and share to spread the word in support of your chosen center. There will be five centers selected on July 4th to receive horses. The top 4 nominated centers with the most fan “likes” and 1 center chosen by LexLin staff will be entered into a lottery drawing on July 4, 2014 to select a horse for their program. The 5 horses drawn on July 4th will then be ready to immediately enter into a lease agreement with the nominated center’s sponsor for 2-3 years before being donated to the center for their program. Most of the horses in Gypsy Gift™ will be geldings, though all horses in the program will be DNA verified Gypsy Horses registered with the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society.
The horses available in the program will be announced on Friday, February, 21st. We will need your help to select the first 5 Gypsy Horses via Facebook likes between February 21, 2014 – July 3, 2014. Those 5 Gypsy Horses will then be selected by the 5 nominated centers from the lottery in the order their numbers are drawn.
Gypsy Gift™ is our primary focus for 2014 and will be the focus of our 5th Annual LexLin Gives Back: Honoring our Heroes. Honoring our Heroes will resume as traditionally run in 2015. We will share more Gypsy Gift™ program details and officially start on Valentine’s Day!
Questions? Watch for full program details to come on Valentine’s Day, and feel free to contact us via email@example.com or call 865.816.2761.
Vanquish Worldwide, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) dedicated to providing Government and commercial contractor services since 2007 has acquired Front Range Training and Consulting, LLC, a SDVOSB specialized in training and program support for Government and commercial clients.
MARYVILLE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vanquish Worldwide is pleased to announce their recent acquisition of Front Range Training and Consulting LLC (FRTC). FRTC is a Colorado-based Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that was founded by Kevin Cooper, a retired U.S. Marine with considerable experience in the Force Reconnaissance and Diplomatic Security/Marine Security Guard (MSG) community. FRTC has been in business since October 2003, and has quickly and effectively demonstrated that it is a leader in the training industry. An example of FRTC’s dedication to supporting the security of this country is through the development and delivery of Programs of Instruction (POI) for the Department of State’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program.
Ongoing training initiatives include Unexploded Ordnance Technician 1 Certification, Tactical Life Saver Training, Law Enforcement Explosive Entry Technician (EET) Training, Advanced Armorer’s Training, and several Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) and Tactical Team Leader Development courses being delivered to numerous local, state, and federal law enforcement officers throughout the country. FRTC’s S.W.A.T. school has been used to stand up entire teams in New Mexico, South Dakota, and Nebraska, and is considered the preferred sustainment training vehicle for agencies in those and other states.
Additionally FRTC was selected as a sole source to Securitas USA, one of the world’s largest security providers, as the recipient of a long term contract providing high end weapons and tactical training to operators providing security to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) critical assets throughout the nation.
Cindy Cooper has assumed the position of Corporate Manager of Training and Educational Services for Vanquish Worldwide. Cindy has been the Vice President of Operations for FRTC for 10 years and has been instrumental in the growth of the company. She has been the Instructional System Design Team Lead which has produced thousands of hours of FRTC programs and coursework.
“I have been very impressed with Vanquish and quickly understood how Front Range would complement and support their customer strategy and direction. In today’s market, the opportunity to bring our teams together creates a tremendous advantage for both organizations,” Kevin Cooper, Vice President of Operations for Vanquish Worldwide, “I am confident that our customers will benefit from services offered by the expanded Vanquish Team.”
Both companies have a long history of growth and profitability, share similar philosophies, and a strong vision for future growth and diversity.
About Vanquish Worldwide
Vanquish offers significant experience working for the US Government and commercial sector from coast to coast in the US, in combat theaters, developing nations and austere environments. Vanquish is headquartered just outside of Greater Knoxville, TN, with offices in Seattle, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina; as well as international offices in Afghanistan, Uganda, and Iraq. www.govanquish.com. Training programs and courses offered by FRTC can be found at www.frontrangetraining.com.
Eric W. Barton’s positive works in Uganda are highlighted in this report; all of us at Vanquish are very proud and encouraged by his humanitarian efforts and the continual good will he bestows upon others.
Also be sure to check out “Humanitarian on a Mission” written about Eric, his background and his mission to get a good education and help others along the way.
December, 7th – National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Some of our Vanquish staff who work in Oahu in support of the US Army Garrison-Hawaii will be in attendance at this morning’s ceremony at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The ceremony location looks directly out to the USS Arizona Memorial.
“I could not be more pleased with the job our employees have done to make the execution of this challenging contract successful. It is a true example of team work and the desire to successfully execute the US Government’s mission,” said Eric W. Barton, president and CEO of Vanquish Worldwide. Read full press release.
Maryville, Tenn. — Vanquish Worldwide has teamed with D&S Delivery, Inc., and FedEx Ground to provide trucks transporting relief supplies for the donation drive supporting several storm-ravaged Oklahoma counties.
Following the recent Moore, Okla., tornado tragedy, Vanquish Worldwide, Inc., among numerous local businesses and churches donated goods and services for at-risk and foster children and families in devastated counties.
Aid materials will be distributed through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Sweet Sleep, a non-profit organization leading the relief efforts, organized a donation drive that was held May 24 to May 25. The donations ranged from sheets and pillows to new cribs. The drive will provide the immediate need items for these children and families.
Efforts both locally and nationally continue to grow in order to be a catalyst for a speedy recovery for the impacted region.
Among many contracting services, Vanquish provides logistics/transportation services to governmental entities both domestically and overseas. The company is headquartered just outside of Greater Knoxville, Tenn., with offices in Afghanistan, Uganda, Iraq and the United States. www.govanquish.com