Please describe your service to our country: Almost 5 years active duty Army infantryman, half that time spent in 2d Ranger Bn at Fort Lewis, WA with 2 trips to Afghanistan, and the other half working in the Military District of Washington (D.C.).

Please describe what the SOF brotherhood means to you: I was lucky to have walked with giants during my time at 2/75. I met some of the best men I have ever known there and forged friendships that will last a lifetime. I also enjoy the history of the unit and how it brings generations of Rangers together, different wars but same personalities.

How has the transition from warfighter to civilian gone? I did my best to stick with a plan for myself once I got out of the Army. Unfortunately plans don’t always go the way you want. I worked for a Fortune 25 company for many years, the pay and benefits were good, but I was miserable, working for a company that rewarded nepotism and not performance. I used my G.I. Bill to earn a Master’s in Business Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University during the evenings. While earning that degree I took a welding class for fun and fell in love with it and knew I had found “my calling”. I think welding is a great fit for “trigger pullers” because things like tight body position, sight picture, breathing, relaxing, are all fundamentals that carry over to welding.

I found that the manufacturing industry is a good fit for veterans, the personalities you find, the culture, the work cycle, it’s all similar to being in the military. Even professions that have you traveling around the country can feel like a deployment cycle.

What is the name of the business you started? Tomahawk SteelWorx

When did you start it? Opened for business September 2017

Why did you start this company? I have always wanted to open my own business, and I felt this was an opportunity to combine my skills in welding, fabrication, automotive, web design, drawing/sketching, and business administration all into one job.

Please describe your products/services: We build “heavy metal” signs, furniture, lighting, and other décor for home or business, office or man-cave. We often use old tools or car parts for a true industrial or steampunk look.

Where is it located? Spokane, Washington

What does this company mean to you/why is it important? My business combines all my hobbies and talents under one roof, where I am my own boss. I love meeting with customers, taking their ideas, and turning it into a unique piece of art or furniture. Every time I build something new I push myself a little further, to make every project better than the last. I take pride in my craftsmanship and want my customers to be blown away by what I make for them.

What have been some challenges as an entrepreneur? IT’S A LOT OF WORK! Running the administrative side of things can be quite time consuming so staying disciplined in planning out your day/week is important so that you have time for the core parts of your business. Marketing is not as easy as it sounds, even with social media. You can be the best person in your craft but if no one knows it then it doesn’t matter. Being a “silent professional” in this regard can be difficult, because you do have to put yourself in the spot light and showcase your talents.

What is the best part of being an entrepreneur? I enjoy the responsibility, not being micromanaged and accepting the fact that I get out of my business what I put into it. Also being able to make your own schedule is nice!

How did your SOF career prepare you for what you are doing now? (In what ways have you drawn on your experiences as a SOF soldier in your business life?) The never quit mentality I developed as a Ranger has been instrumental in opening and operating my own business. Putting yourself out there and trying to make it on your own is no easy task. I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience days where I want to throw my gloves off and get a “real job”, but my passion for my business and the perseverance for success I developed in the military always forces me to drive on.

Who has influenced you as an entrepreneur? My father retired from the Army and was successful in opening several small businesses when I was growing up. As a kid I knew I wanted to own my own business one day. I’ve also met so many people, both in the military and civilian worlds, taking their skillset and doing incredible things that they motivate me to push myself and not let my talents go to waste.

Family? One spoiled dog, my wife and myself, with hopes to have kids soon.

Why do you live where you live? I’m originally from Richmond, Virginia, but the Army brought me to Washington state. I met my wife while at 2d Ranger Bat and she brought me to the east side of the state.

Favorite food? Boston fried clams

Favorite place in the world? Moab, Utah. I’m a big Jeep/4×4 guy and that place is my Mecca.

Favorite movie? Can’t pick one, top 3: Aliens, Terminator 2, Airplane!

What do you like to do in your spare time? Traveling the world, four wheeling, camping, and disassembling perfectly fine automobiles. I like to party, lift weights, rock climb, nerd out on video games, and listen to heavy metal at unsafe volumes.

Words you live by (ethos)? Life’s too short to work a job you hate, so do what you love!