After serving in the army for 27 years, Wes Hester wasn’t ready to stop serving his community upon retirement. In 2007, Hester decided to start his own IT Technology engineering firm, Foxhole Technology.

By 2008, he was ready to open his doors and provide cybersecurity to the US Department of Defense, as well as other federal and civilian agencies. Now, his team maintains 24/7 cyber hygiene and security for organizations all over the world, including the US Department of Education. Hester also employs many veterans, giving them the chance to continue aiding their country together.

“We have a passion for delivering critical mission assets, much like we did when we were in uniform,” Hester said. “We were founded to provide those mission-critical capabilities to our warfighters and to our peacekeepers.”

Before he could get started, however, he knew he needed help. He had the technology aspect covered, but knew nothing about business development and networking. After doing tons of research, a mentor recommended the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in Springfield, Missouri. He worked with Allen Waldo, who provided counseling and information on taking advantage of veteran-owned business opportunities.

Hester worked to receive his Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certification and got started attending networking events. PTAC helped him understand accounting and made seminar and training suggestions.

“It’s been great,” Hester said. “I think the quality of people [at PTAC] is really good and dynamic. I recommend it to any and every small business.”

One of the biggest things PTAC was able to help Hester with before officially opening Foxhole Technology was comprehending federal contracts. Waldo explained the mechanics of federal contracting, cost proposals, and the price to win strategy. Hester continues to seek counseling and business development information, even after running a successful business for over ten years.

Because of the strong building blocks Hester received from PTAC, Foxhole Technology has been able to expand to having employees in 18 states and overseas with their headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. Along with cybersecurity, the company also specializes in testing and evaluation, program acquisition and management, and systems and software engineering, among other things. They also develop and maintain programs that can analyze big amounts of complicated data and put it into comprehensible information. They call these “mission-critical capabilities” and strive to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions to federal and private organizations.

Hester aspires to give back to others in his community. One of his goals is for at least 50% of his company to be employed by veterans. He makes consistent donations to veteran targeted organizations and seeks out other veteran-owned small businesses to mentor. He also reaches out to younger generations by creating programs and events that encourage students to learn more about his line of business. Scholarships and awards push students to seek higher education that can train them for IT and engineering jobs.

Foxhole Technology is also developing a lab in Springfield specifically to give college students a place where they can get hands-on experience and training without leaving their college town. This gives them greater access to certifications they might need once they graduate. Hester hopes this will help young people secure better jobs after college, strengthen the cybersecurity world, and therefore strengthen companies. “The industry is no more advanced than our education system,” Hester said.

Foxhole Technology has not seen the end of its growth. Despite struggles concerning industry change and a shrinking pipeline of trained professionals, they are making changes to combat every challenge. They continue to seek opportunities to expand overseas and build an international presence. Back home in Missouri, Hester wants to work with local governments to build cybersecurity methods that work for every school and business at the local, state, and federal level.

“A vulnerability to one is a vulnerability to all,” he said. “Everyone should have good cybersecurity hygiene.”

As Hester works to grow the company, he still meets with Waldo for guidance and help. PTAC continually finds new opportunities and training for Hester, and he knows he can go to them with questions and research assistance.

“I can’t emphasize enough the support we get from PTAC. It’s a great asset,” Hester said.