Q&A with Lee Kirby of Salute™ Mission Critical

1. Salute Inc. and EdgeConneX® have forged a very productive and successful partnership, placing many of your highly-trained American military veterans in their Edge Data Centers®. How has this relationship impacted your business and your team?

The successful partnership with EdgeConneX has been unlike any other. We were given a chance to prove ourselves with EdgeConneX and then we entered a candid conversation with them about how best to leverage our skills in support of their Edge strategy. We feel we reached a mutually beneficial balance because our strength is recruiting, training, deploying and supporting service personnel globally and that is exactly what EdgeConneX needed with its aggressive global growth goals. Growth with EdgeConneX has proven the model and has allowed us to reference the success as we grow with other clients having similar needs. Data centers need a flexible and adaptive staffing model based on client requirements and it’s not a one-size-fits-all model. Together, we have established and proven this highly-effective framework. The fulfilling side for us is that this translates to veterans getting jobs in the industry with the potential of a long-term career.

2. What was the inspiration for creating your business and how many veterans have graduated through your program so far?

When we started planning this in 2012, we were appalled to find out that the average veteran returning to civilian life after an enlistment period was suffering in the unemployment line. Combat-trained specialists, specifically, were approaching 25 percent and this was unacceptable and made no sense. We also knew that the data center industry was, and is, suffering a severe shortage of talent. All we needed to do was to figure out a way to get the veterans trained with experience to be a candidate for long-term positions in the industry. It is easier said than done, but we went to work immediately on two fronts. First, we developed a training program to rapidly train veterans with the labor-based skills required in the data centers. Second, we leveraged our contacts to market and win projects putting these trained veterans to work. It was a classic boot strap operation with just-in-time training provided for projects won. We proved the model early and kept repeating it. As we developed more business, it fueled more word of mouth opportunities and we grew at an amazing pace of 100 percent-plus every year since 2013. We do not expect to continue at that pace, but all indications are that we will continue to grow and put veterans work. We measure our success by the number of lives positively impacted by our work. We have put more than 500 veterans through our program and they are a living testament to the notion that they just needed the opportunity to prove themselves. We have more than 200 people working at Salute now and we expect to grow that number to 300 in the coming year. The greatest impact is within the families of our veterans because our trained members can now provide for them and create a lifestyle that will help them continue to grow and prosper. Multiply that good feeling by the fact that 12 percent of the veterans that come through our program are homeless at the time, and you can see the monumental impact we have had on veterans and their families.

3. Salute’s professionals have been a great fit for EdgeConneX because we move rapidly and have locations in many countries. How are you able to support those deployments quickly?

Edmund Wilson, founder and COO of EdgeConneX, referred to it as our “military DNA” and we have used that to describe it effectively to others. Our team and its process are all built on military doctrine that is focused on recruiting, training, deploying and supporting service personnel globally. With that strength, we have been able to provide quality service for EdgeConneX no matter where they choose to locate because of our military DNA.

4. What are your goals for 2018 and how do you plan to expand your work with EdgeConneX?

We have key areas that we have invested in that are now starting to bloom, such as our command center resource deployment strategy. We are continuing to build out a core offering that leverages our command centers so that technicians do not have to be on site full-time. The training programs instituted for our technicians allow this program to be successful, while supporting multiple clients, creating a higher utilization rate per technician. Our Edge services leverage the command center program by deploying resources to multiple sites for installation and maintenance of cell tower technology that support edge computing configurations. We believe that this capability will be a value-add to EdgeConneX and look forward to any opportunity to leverage it to their advantage. With the recent expansion of EdgeConneX into Argentina, we are excited to start planning for that deployment and have our bilingual veterans ready to establish a highly- effective on-site team. We also plan to support project-based work for the EdgeConneX Edge Data Centers. Our traveling technicians will be supporting their facility PUE project by deploying a sensor technology to improve operational efficiency. Wherever EdgeConneX’s business takes them, we will be there to ensure site operations are meeting business requirements in whatever form that takes.


Lee Kirby, Co-Founder / Chairman of Salute™ Mission Critical

For more information about the partnership between EdgeConneX and Salute™ Mission Critical, please contact us at info@edgeconnex.com.