MissionPoint names chief experience officer

Saint Thomas ACO creates new role, communications arm
Aug 17, 2015 1:23 PM

Urgent Team names chief integration officer

SpecialtyCare co-founder to lead administrative, integration efforts at urgent care company
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TSU names associate VP for institutional advancement

Veteran academician previously served at Spellman College
Aug 17, 2015 7:00 AM

Q&A: Tracy Gaurino of ForceX

Tracy Guarino is CEO and President of ForceX Inc., a defense contractor that recently relocated in headquarters from Clarksville to The Sheds on Charlotte in Midtown.

ForceX specializes in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance software development and geospatial application technology programs, ranking it one of Nashville’s more distinctive technology-oriented companies.

Post Managing Editor William Williams recently caught up with Guarino to gauge her take on the move (read more about that move here) and the company’s future.

Your senior executive team did a national search for the headquarters relocation, with the information yielding four cities: Huntsville, Nashville, Tampa and Washington, D.C. Why Nashville?

Most of these cities are already large aerospace and defense hubs. We wanted to help Middle Tennessee broaden its portfolio to include this industry as well. I believe that with the growing tech talent in our city, the governor’s desire to bring in more aerospace and defense businesses, and our commitment at ForceX to grow our business that we can help make this happen in Nashville.

We wanted to be in a city that was centrally located, had a thriving tech culture and growing economy. Nashville has the right  balance to meet our economic development, job growth, tech development, and quality-of-life needs. Our primary goal is to attract and retain top tech and leadership talent. Nashville gives us the ability to do that. 

What incentives has the state offered for the company to stay in Tennessee?

The state was proactive in recruiting us to keep our growing company here. The Department of Economic and Community Development awarded ForceX a $700,000 grant under the Fast Track Job Training Assistance program to support our commitment to maintain and increase jobs in Middle Tennessee. This is an investment that should pay off for this region many times over, and we are happy to do our part.

We are thrilled to make Nashville our new home. We are proud to be part of the commitment that our state leaders, local officials and business leaders — including Gov. Haslam, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, and Ralph Schulz of the Nashville Chamber — have made to make our city one of the top technology centers in the country. ForceX wants to build on that momentum to put Nashville on the map as an attractive destination for defense contractors.

Because of security reasons, I understand you cannot get into specifics of the technology ForceX has developed or your work for the federal government and the military, but what can you say about ForceX involvement, in general, regarding this?

Our technology fuses together intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data from a variety of sources to give a clear picture of rapidly evolving and dangerous situations. Our job is to provide dynamic information that improves command decisions and saves lives. Our mission and motto is “to protect life and liberty” and we take pride in supporting this mission. 

ForceX provides visibility and communication between warfighters on the ground and in the air, and the decision makers on foreign soil and back at home. We are able to provide real-time video and intelligence data to create an instant common operating picture. So, when you see stories in the news about a special operations team going in on a sensitive mission to capture a terrorist, we are often the eyes and ears on that mission.

In addition to war fighting, is your technology also available for use the general marketplace?

We see this as the next frontier for our technology. ForceX creates highly customized mapping and video solutions, and performance technologies that can be used in a variety of commercial industries including fire departments, law enforcement, disaster relief and security organizations. There are many areas where ForceX can help make our nation a safer place, such as saving lives during earthquakes, forest fires and floods, and assisting with border patrol, bombings and security threats.

ForceX currently has about 120 employees. I understand you are planning to create another 175 jobs. What can you tell us about that and your new headquarters at The Sheds on Charlotte?

We have had rapid growth since our founding in 2004 in Clarksville. ForceX has grown from three to nearly 120 employees today, half of whom have come from the military. I am truly excited about our expansion plans, and there will be numerous new jobs created by our move.

The vast majority of our growing workforce will call Nashville their home. Our current facility at The Sheds on Charlotte is built to accommodate up to 350 employees. We also have some amazing ex-military pilots who train the end users on our software directly from training camps across the country. We are able to provide another way for these dedicated individuals to participate in protecting our great nation in addition to wearing a uniform.

ForceX originally considered maintaining its Clarksville office. However, you have since decided to consolidate that office and your Brentwood office into this more centralized Midtown location. What was your strategy regarding the consolidation?

We opened a satellite office in Brentwood in 2012 to test the market and work out any scalability challenges we might encounter, while our headquarters and management team were still close by, in Clarksville. To our delight, we were able to recruit top engineering and leadership talent very rapidly in Middle Tennessee, so Nashville emerged as a viable location for expansion. Once we decided on Nashville, we focused on finding an amazing space that our team would be proud of.

We needed a place to house a growing workforce that would accommodate our top-secret security needs and allow for ease of access for our customers and our team. While we had hoped initially to maintain a small location in Clarksville for ease of commute for our Clarksville folks, we decided that having one home that encouraged a cohesive team and supported our culture was important.  The location at The Sheds on Charlotte gave us that. 

On a personal note, you have always been committed to health and fitness. How have you taken the lessons learned from that effort and applied them to being the leader of a highly specialized company? 

Leading any growing business requires dedication, commitment and focus.  This is true whether you are trying to achieve success in health or fitness, or protecting life and liberty. As we all know, goals aren’t achieved overnight. In fitness or business, you must remain committed and focused to be successful. It’s exciting and exhausting. I love coming into work every day and working with a team of people who are as dedicated — and fit — as I am.

Aug 17, 2015 7:00 AM

Logan’s recruits CIO from chicken chain

IT veteran worked with CEO Borgese last decade
Aug 14, 2015 11:57 AM

Jackson Foundation taps first institutional advancement VP

Ex-Belmont official to oversee programs, fundraising related to The Hermitage
Aug 14, 2015 7:00 AM

CapStar brings on business banking veterans from Capital Bank, Comdata

Relationship manager ran $30M book
Aug 13, 2015 2:32 PM

Bradley departs BMI to launch company

Veteran music industry official Clay Bradley has left BMI to launch his own company, musicrow.com reports. Bradley served for seven years as assistant vice president of writer-publisher relations at BMI. He will focus on managing I.R.S. Nashville duo Muddy Magnolias, according to musicrow.com.

Aug 13, 2015 2:25 PM

Ex-Metro finance director joins Ernst & Young in D.C.

Tax specialist also once served as revenue department commissioner
Aug 13, 2015 10:30 AM

Shareable Ink founder has left company

Eleanor Kennedy at the Business Journal has caught up with the happenings at health care technology company Shareable Ink. Founder and CTO Stephen Hau, who relocated the company here from Boston in 2010, left in May and CEO Hal Andrews says he is refocusing his team's efforts on working with electronic health vendors rather than selling directly to doctors. Get the full story here.

Aug 13, 2015 9:57 AM