Small Businesses, Big Results: SimIS Inc.

by Ryan Miller

By Barrett Baker

Owner: Dr. Johnny Garcia, Founder and CEO
Founded: 2007
Location: Portsmouth and Stafford, Va; Orlando, Fla.
Number of Employees: 85

Dr. Johnny Garcia has had an entrepreneurial spirit since he was very young. After working for General Dynamics (GD) for several years, he reached a point where he could use his experience to generate enough courage to start his own company, SimIS, Inc., an Information Technology Service Company focused on developing innovative approaches and solutions in three IT sectors: Modeling and Simulation, Information Security and Autonomous Platforms.

Fortunately, General Dynamics was open to the opportunity of Garcia starting his own company, and they actually assisted him in getting his start. His first contract was tied to his Ph.D. research, so that made the transition even easier, although he admits that it has not always been easy moving forward.

“There have been many obstacles during the last 10 years, but I think the largest was understanding the ever-changing landscape in IT and government contracts and how to diversify that has made us successful,” Garcia says. “We leveraged a number of programs provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia for businesses—Economic Gardening, VALET, GENEDGE—and these programs aided SimIS in diversification and international business.”

Despite any challenges that he has faced along the way, Garcia has purposely kept the size of his business small so they can retain the ability to be agile when it comes to supporting their clients and his employees.

“We have very specific expertise in modeling and simulation for unmanned systems—specifically unmanned boats—and cyber security, and these capabilities have made SimIS a hot commodity,” he says. “We have done projects/contracts for the government, very large companies and small ones, too, because of these specialized capabilities.”

However, he is quick to point out that there is more to starting and running a small business than just having a good idea. “I have learned a great deal by being part of the unique structure of being a husband of 27 years, a parent, entrepreneur, professor, military veteran and concerned citizen of the world—in that order of importance,” he says. “I have also acquired knowledge and hopefully wisdom of the 30 years of being a tax-paying American. We are living in a special age—the age of information—and we are always seeking new knowledge. Information itself is not necessarily useful knowledge, and both information and knowledge are not sufficient to synthesize wisdom. One needs a proper education combined with experience. It also helps, of course, to have good genes, so try to choose your parents well.”

Photo by Jim Pile

Recognizing that trends in IT are ever-changing, Garcia keeps his company moving forward by hiring smart and providing continued education for his staff and leadership. They are creating their own path instead of following the beaten one.

“My message from the outset is simple: always be guided by a purpose to shape your future, the future of your country, and the future of the world,” he says. “Success comes to the prepared mind. Success is not like rain that falls from the sky equally upon everyone. Success is what you reap when you sow with passion and optimism. Success can be defined differently by every single person. I define success as knowing your purpose in life, knowing why you are here. My purpose is to be the difference maker in the personal, family, professional and spiritual lives of enough people to make a positive difference in the world. So, my advice to others is to have a creative imagination and a career built upon integrity. Then you can face life by responding to it instead of reacting to it.”

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