Opening Case: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

Winston Churchill

Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions (TAES) is headquartered adjacent to Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Virginia, which is also home to the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense at the Pentagon. TAES' founder, Jerry Torres, is a former Special Forces soldier who acquired a government contract to provide services to the Department of Defense as he was recovering from a war injury. TAES revenues were $66.2 million in 2007, mostly from contracts to supply computer services and Arabic-speaking linguists to the federal government.

About his background, Torres states, "I've been a member of the Reserve Special Forces since 1984. On 9/11, I was on duty in Argentina. Some Argentinean soldiers grabbed me, pulled me into an office, and pointed at a monitor. I saw the second plane hit the tower, and from that time I was on active duty." At the time, Torres was working in information technology at the pharmaceutical company Merck. This background gave Torres the required knowledge to start a technology consulting firm.

Torres was injured in Afghanistan in 2003. "We were in a gunfight, and I was running across a wall. A round hit my breastplate from the side, and I was knocked down. I fell an entire floor and landed on my head. I broke a vertebra in the middle of my back and some bones in my neck." While recovering at Bowling AFB in Washington, D.C., Torres received an offer to coordinate security at a Presidential Ball. This contract gained Torres exposure with the Secretary of State, former Gen. Colin Powell.

This led to a contract to provide speakers of Arabic to the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan. This environment means that Torres' employees are in significant danger. "Our people have been hit by IEDs and mortar rounds. People have had their bodies burned. In February, two of our employees had their trailer hit by rockets." One of Torres' employees was killed in 2006. Torres traveled to the employee's parents to inform them of the news. Of his company's mission, Torres hopes that TAES will help the people of Iraq rebuild.1