By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
Eric Barton of Vanquish Worldwide LLC clearly personifies the old adage of “plan your work and work your plan.”
In a little over two decades, the soft spoken resident of Friendsville has gone from being an enlisted 17-year old in the U.S. Marines to earning a Meritorious Commission to becoming an U. S. Army Chaplain and, most recently, being named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.
The last honor, bestowed at the annual “Pinnacle Awards” banquet in May, recognized the phenomenal growth that Barton and his team have spearheaded since the Illinois native founded Vanquish Worldwide in 2007.
“We have these goals that are very concrete,” Barton told us in relation to one of the 28 (and counting) companies that are part of his portfolio.
One could readily call it a meteoric rise for the business executive who says he initially planned to stay in the military until retirement. It is easy to understand why he might want to do so, having earned numerous college degrees (see previous article in this series), not to mention the commission and subsequent service as an Intelligence Officer.
“I learned a lot about leadership in the service,” Barton says. “I learned what is fair and balanced . . . how to treat people.”
Yet, he found himself working in 2005 as a Project Manager for EODT, a company now known as Sterling Global. Barton was stationed in the Middle East, coordinating logistics support. It was not his first work in the region, and it would not be his last.
A short time later, he joined with some friends to found Critical Mission Support Services, an entity later renamed Relyant. They bid on and won a contract to provide maintenance support in Iraq’s infamous Al Anbar Province, and Barton was off to the races.
“It was our first bid and, as luck would have it, we won,” he explained.
During those early years with Relyant, Barton spent much of his time in the Middle East. When he came back in 2009, the family settled in Friendsville, a place they had never previously lived.
“I got to know the region earlier,” Barton told us, explaining that the family traveled through the area when visiting his wife’s family in North Carolina or his in Southern Illinois. “East Tennessee was about halfway between the two.”
Barton started Vanquish Worldwide in 2007, but had not spent much time on it until he sold his interest in Relyant at the end of 2010.
“Vanquish became my primary focus in 2011,” he said. The results since then speak for themselves, ranging from strategic diversification to some significant contracts. Perhaps most notable is a $985 million IDIQ contract for which Vanquish Worldwide has already billed $65 million.
For those not familiar with the term, IDIQ stands for “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity.” It is a government procurement process where the actual quantity and delivery requirements are set by specific task orders issued against the basic agreement.
NEXT: A look at some of the businesses that are part of the Vanquish Worldwide portfolio.