Service sector

Westfield vet launches disabled veteran-owned small business in environmental consultancy • Current Edition

The Indianapolis-based Nexus Impact Center is a way for businesses to operate in a coworking space. However, the center requires tenant companies to have a social impact on their business. For Sam Glanders of Westfield, the social impact of his business is environmental consulting, environmental construction and environmental remediation.

Glanders has another mission, however. Through his company, SAGE, he wants to help veterans make the transition to the civilian world.

Glanders retired from active duty in the US military in 2018 and began working in business development for an environmental company. He acknowledged that there was a big gap in the federal workforce for small businesses owned by disabled veterans, particularly in the environmental consultancy sector.

Sam Glanders recently returned from a six month deployment. (Photo courtesy of Sam Glanders)

“So I said, ‘Hey, if I start my own shop, would you guys want to partner up and go get a federal job?’ And they were all there,” Glanders said.

Glanders, 34, incorporated his business a week before the March 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns began.
“Which is probably the best time to start a business,” he said with a laugh.

Glanders said SAGE’s primary focus is environmental work on the federal side. Some of its main customers are the US Department of Veterans Affairs, primarily in Indiana, as well as the US Navy and US Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s kind of interesting that we haven’t done a ton of work locally,” Glanders said. “But that’s the nature of the beast when hunting for government contracts.”

Locally, Glanders said he wanted to do contracts with the Indiana Department of Transportation or contracts for municipal works in Indiana. SAGE only works in the commercial field.

SAGE’s role changes depending on the client. For example, for the VA, Glanders said SAGE monitors asbestos reduction.

“We work with downsizing contractors, and we basically manage the project and oversee it,” he said.

Glanders still serves in the US Army Reserves. Staff Sergeant, he has just returned from a six-month deployment to Niger.

Glanders said he plans to stay in Indianapolis so SAGE can have a “solid foothold” in the Midwest. He said there are many government contracts in the Great Lakes region and parts of Kentucky and Illinois.

“We’re really trying to grow that way,” he said.

Glanders said the Nexus Impact Center had been “phenomenal” in helping him get started.

“One of the things that we really appreciate is when we were looking for (space) the first year of our incorporation, it was COVID,” Glanders said. “So everyone was working from home. We contacted them and (Executive Director) Robin (Lee) took us through a nice and easy transition from working from home to there.

At the Nexus Impact Center, Glanders was able to chat with other companies about managing corporate ownership during the pandemic.

“It’s not an easy task, so having the support network there has been a huge help to us,” he said.

Nexus Impact Center companies must have an element of social impact in the way they do business. Lee said the companies run the gamut. For example, working with the opioid epidemic, helping veterans enter the workforce, and helping recently released inmates enter the workforce, among other causes.

“All of these things serve a dual purpose,” Lee said. “So, yeah, it’s a revenue model and everything (at the impact center) is priced below market to help businesses get started and grow and scale and get out of Nexus. You have to be a not-for-profit or for-profit organization that builds impact into your model.”
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SAGE Business Manager Bob Verworn is working on a project. (Photo courtesy of Sam Glanders)

Improve the veteran community

As a military veteran, Sam Glanders knows what it’s like to transition from the active duty military world to the civilian world. He wants to make that transition easier for veterans.

“One of the things we’re really focusing on is how can we better help the veteran community?” said Glanders, owner of SAGE, an environmental consultancy. “I was on active duty for 10 years. How do I transition with these skills that I have acquired for so long and then where is this sector? »

Without a college degree, Glanders was unsure of his place in the job market.

“One of the things we’re working on is how to turn military skills into a civilian resume,” he said. “You can’t just sit there and say, ‘Well, I was an infantry guy’ on your resume and that translates into whatever kind of skills the civilian world would sit there and sounds like this (person) is attractive. But you weren’t just an infantryman. You were in charge of X number of pieces of equipment. How many times did you have to do logistics to get this from point A to point B? In terms of leadership, how many people were you responsible for? Try to verbalize these experiences in a way that a civilian can understand.