The Liontari Group recently had a chance to sit down with Allen Maxwell, a former Navy veteran who started his own solutions company called Omni2Max. Allen shared with us his background in the service and how his military experience helped shape a successful, thriving business.
Hello Allen, and thanks for taking some time out of your day. Can you start by telling me about your military and personal background?
Of course. I spent 22 years in the United States Navy, and finished my career as Warrant Officer; specifically, a Systems Test Officer. The Navy was a great experience that faced me with many challenges and life lessons. I’ve been on many deployments and have been stationed both stateside and overseas. The Navy has given me an outstanding leadership and cultural background that has helped shape me into who I am today. I’ve been married to my wife, Diane, for 34 years and we have two children, one in law school and the other currently serving in the Navy. I am a proud husband and father, and my family has been a huge part of everything I’ve done throughout my career.
What were some of the leadership challenges you faced in the Navy?
One of the greatest challenges one can have in any organization is when there is an established leadership hierarchy, or “chain of command”, that is not upheld. During my first commissioned officer duty tour while stationed overseas, my leadership was more of a dictatorship than a chain of command, and there was corruption among many of those in senior positions. There was poor communication, and many things were done behind peoples’ backs, and with no integrity. Favorites were picked not based on work quality or merit, but rather on a “buddy, buddy” system. Also, this was the first place I experienced racism. Leading sailors and placing the mission first in this toxic environment was very difficult. This experience further instilled the value I’ve always had to “do the right thing” regardless of the situation at hand. In the end, everything worked out because I was able to stick to my morals, and have the self-discipline to persevere and continue to uphold high standards.
What would you say the mission of Omni2max is?
This one is easy and clear, Omni2Max is a solutions provider. What I want to know in my business is what keeps my clients up at night. What are the problems they cannot seem to find solutions to? What we do is use outside-the-box thinking, combined with a lot of experience in the field. Nothing can replace experience- it allows you to properly use the resources available in the most effective and efficient manner, and this create a desirable answer to a problem. In business, this desirable answer would be a quicker, less expensive, and more quality product.
One of the reasons I love working with veterans is these values are more or less a given, and there’s an expectation that doesn’t need to be explained or hoped for. It’s just there.
What are some of the major differences you have found between working with people in the military and people in the civilian sector?
Both organizations are more similar than different. What it takes to be successful in both places is more or less the same. The basic rules of showing up on time in the right uniform (attire), and with the right attitude, will work wonders in both places. One of the reasons I love working with veterans is these values are more or less a given, and there’s an expectation that doesn’t need to be explained or hoped for. It’s just there.
How do you think your military experience helped you in the business world?
Similar to the last question. The military taught these things to be second nature at an early age, so I was immediately prepared for many challenges. Additionally, the military taught me how to adapt, which is an invaluable asset in any organization. Plans always change and military experience teaches you this life lesson better than anywhere.
Any words of advice for other veterans who are interested in starting a small business?
The words of advice for a veteran or civilian are the same in my opinion. The real key to success in any organization is to learn the system. In a nutshell what this means is to not try to change everything right away or fight the way things work. What you need to do is to learn how to adapt to the workplace that you’re in, which is unique to each organization. Spend your time learning how to change yourself to be successful where you are at, not changing the world around you. Like I said previously, the military can do an excellent job preparing you for this, because often you don’t have a choice- you can’t quit! Learn how to “bloom where you are planted” and you will achieve results anyplace you find yourself. With enough time, you’ll eventually find yourself in a position with an ability to implement real change. First, you must learn the system to be afforded that opportunity.