I was reminded in a recent conversation of something from my second career I hadn’t thought about for a long time. After I retired and took some time off to write my first book, the novel, Orchids in the Snow, it became painfully obvious I would not be making a living as a writer. Like most other retired military in the D.C. area, I went to work in the defense services contracting sector. I knew I didn’t want to work for a Fortune-500 company and went with a small company experiencing growth. The culture was what I was looking for and their salaries were mid-range which was fine based on our situation. What benefits to provide employees can be rather complex. Their basic package was basic and the intent was to add selected benefits as they were able to. I knew the company had work in some high-risk areas/specialties, none of which I was remotely interested in. But when they added kidnap and ransom insurance as a benefit for those employees who did that sort of work, it was appreciated. (To the best of my knowledge, the policies were not put to test during the time I was with the company.)
When it came to growth, another thing I was unfamiliar with was the founder and his wife decided to buy another company. This wasn’t anything I had experience with, but I usually had lunch with my boss and he explained the rationale and process to me. A second company was later acquired to make the original company become “A Group”, which was in turn acquired by a Fortune-500 corporation. This was a case of becoming, “too big to be small, and too small to be big”. In other words, there are certain contracts set aside for small business and once you pass out of that category, you are then required to compete with the really big guys. It’s difficult to go head-to-head with them and the big guys all know this. Selling the company is often the most advantageous and the original founding members were able to negotiate a nice deal. Another interesting lesson learned in the real world of business.