“My real estate venture showed me how pressing forward and not watching signs in the market, can lead you to the finish line, but you might not realize the location of the race had changed. ” Aaron Weikle
Company Name: Mountain State Software Solutions (MS3)
Hometown: Ronceverte, WV
For Aaron, it wasn’t “if” he was going to be successful, but “when.” With a BS in Computer and Information Science and a Masters in Software Engineering, Aaron could’ve stayed with The MITRE Corporation, where he was responsible for the design and implementation of standardized services and integrations for aviation and military flight data. His experience with Government contracts became a stepping stone to entrepreneurship.
He learned about entrepreneurism from his parents, who owned several retail businesses. Identifying the need for high quality solution engineering and software integration, within the Government sector. Mountain State Software Solutions (MS3) ventured into the commercial market, where clients were willing to pay for top notch service and solutions.
Under Aaron’s leadership, MS3, landed at #112 on the 2016 Inc. 5000 list, with a 3-year growth 2,946 percent. Aaron is focused on the success of his employees, which he considers his personal success. In order to ensure the success of their employees, MS3 offers extensive benefits, including profit sharing and a four-day company retreat to the Caribbean. Aaron relies on his employees for ideas and innovations. Five Hundred Stories congratulates Aaron and all of MS3 on their success.
What early experiences in life cultivated your entrepreneurial spirit?
My parents started several small businesses. They were in retail and I saw that if you worked hard you can be successful. They did this all on the side, while working their full-time jobs.
Why did you start your business(es)?
My first business was at the height of the real estate market supporting FSBO sellers. I felt there was a gap in the market for this service. Before things could really get rolling, the market crashed and I closed shop. Similarly, MS3 was started because there was a void in the market for high quality technical delivery. I thought the need was only in the Federal market, but I quickly learned the commercial sector had an even bigger need and were willing to pay for the right solutions.
What entrepreneur has most inspired you?
Dave Ramsey; I read his book, the Total Money Makeover, back in my early 20’s. I realized, to be successful, you need to follow most of his strategies and methodologies.
What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome thus far in business?
The biggest obstacle has been, being an average white male. Business and government think I am entitled and have everything on a plate for me. The reality is just the opposite. I have worked three to four times harder than anticipated to achieve success. An additional obstacle is living in West Virginia, where coal, not technology, is a leading industry.
What have you learned from failure?
Yes, my real estate venture showed me how pressing forward and not watching signs in the market, can lead you to the finish line, but you might not realize the location of the race had changed.
How does your leadership style foster you company's culture?
At MS3 we work hard and we play hard. This is sewn through our entire company culture. This is why we have a 4-day offsite function in the Caribbean every year. Our resources can kick back and relax while enjoy the fruits of their labors.
What are your top 3 responsibilities as a leader?
- Keeping the company culture alive
- Keeping the resources motivated, to stay ahead of the curve with technology
- Ensure the direction of the company will sustain our growth and team
What internal process do you use to guide your decision-making?
There aren’t any official or standardized processes for decision making. We are an employee-owned company and there are many decisions we solicit from staff recommendations and opinions. For day-to-day operations, the senior leadership huddles together and determines what is in the best interest of MS3.
How do you define success?
Success, for me, is ensuring the growth and prosperity of my team. If I can secure their continued growth in their trade and capabilities and ensuring they can apply those skills in the real world, is my measurement of success. Prosperity comes from being successful in the implementation of these new skills as this contributes to Profit Sharing, all employees receive.
Which book has inspired you?
Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover
What do you think is the coolest technology out there, and why?
I believe the coolest tech out there is the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is becoming a part of our daily lives. Soon we will have our alarm go off, which will trigger our coffee pots to brew a perfect cup of coffee, then 30 minutes later start our car so the seat is nice and toasty on those winter days.