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Growing well

Company puts an emphasis on keeping employees happy

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John Braun is president of Fairfax-based Dynamis.
Photo by Mark Rhodes

From day one, Dynamis Inc. founders John Milam and John Braun were passionate about building a company that emphasizes the well-being of employees. “We work hard every day to keep our people happy so they want to be here,” says Milam, the company’s CEO. Braun is Dynamis’ president.

The Fairfax-based company custom designs software for incident response and management systems. Its main customers are the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security. Dynamis has about 50 employees in locations ranging from Hawaii to Germany.

Before they started the company in 2008, Milam had been a defense consultant, and Braun was a legislative consultant. “The services we provide are high-end ana­lytics,” Milam says. “We had clients that needed the kind of analytical support that was creative and flexible.”

The company provides decision support for its customers. “Our customers have to make decisions such as what to do, how to do it and when to do it,” Milam says. “We help them with those decisions.”

The company is trying to increase its international business. One of its customers is the Brazilian government. It used a Dynamis information management system in planning logistics and keeping track of first responders during three major events — the 2014 World Cup, the 2016 Summer Olympics and the July visit of Pope Francis.

“It gives them an operating picture of all the venues they want to defend,” Milam says of the software. “They have a visual understanding of where their threats are. They now have a national incident management command and control system.”

The Belgian Interior Ministry recently chose Dynamis to develop a customized nationwide incident and crisis management system based on the company’s Cobra platform. Cobra software tools support facility operations and help manage special events, emergencies and disasters.

The company expected to end 2016 with about $25 million in revenue. “[In 2017,] we are looking at $30 million,” Milam says.

Milam and Braun view their growing revenue as a result of happy employees doing their best work. The company has been on the Best Places list four times since 2011. “We don’t believe in work/life balance because that pits work against life. We believe in work/life integration,” Milam says.

He and Braun made a decision early on not to grow rapidly but to grow well. “We wanted to have a definitive culture and to build the back-office functions so when we got successful on the business development side, we could execute our contracts,” Milam says. 

To improve employee skills, Dynamis created the School of Athens, a forum for training and professional development. “We are trying to create a school where people can learn enough about themselves and the business to become thought leaders in our community,” says Milam, noting Dynamis is an ancient Greek word meaning heart, drive and spirit.

The school provides sessions, mostly taught by employees, on subjects ranging from corporate goals and values to technical skills. The company also has a mentoring program where employees are coached either one-on-one or in group sessions.

“We spend time talking about what we do, soliciting feedback on questions such as: Is the work interesting, is it challenging?” Milam says.

Many discussions take place in The Pit, an open semi-circle area at the company’s headquarters with six big, easy chairs and a white board. “We sit together and discuss issues of interest or concern,” Milam says. “We talk about everything from a project someone is working on to getting the best interest rate for your home.”

The company’s benefit package includes a tuition reimbursement plan and a wellness program. A personal trainer comes in weekly to meet with employees, and the company also provides a masseuse as needed. 

Milam believes management’s job is to make sure employees are happy in their work. “If you have an employee with something out of whack, the manager has to work on it,” he says.

The company’s 10,000-square-foot headquarters has an additional benefit for employees. “The best thing about this building is that it has a veranda on one side with a table, deck, chairs, etc.,” says Milam. “A lot of people go out there and work. We have a lot of meetings out there. It’s a relaxing atmosphere.”


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