Michael Bridges of Peerless Technologies
Meet Michael Bridges, founder of Peerless Technologies
, an engineering and information technology company.
What is Peerless Technologies?
Peerless Technologies is a company of 270 professionals who solve issues of national security for federal clients.
How did you come up with the idea?
I knew in college that one day I wanted to start a company. After earning a BS in Systems Engineering from Wright State University
, I spent 20 years in the defense services industry. In 2000, it was time to launch Peerless. I asked my daughter, Andrea Kunk, to join me. With her MBA in Finance, also from Wright State, she became Peerless’ CFO and we never looked back.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
The biggest surprise was how much I didn’t know. I had run a good size operation in the same industry for another firm. But as a business owner, there are so many things to learn, and you have to do it quickly.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
I’m not an early morning person, so I’m admittedly never the first person at the office. I usually catch up with my mangers and staff throughout the building, rarely in my office. I’ll have four or five meetings. Meetings often get a bad rap, but I think they’re a great way to collaborate. I work out almost every day during lunch, and eat my lunch in the kitchen, which is a great time to visit with employees, which I genuinely enjoy. It’s not uncommon to finally get to e-mail in the evening.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Fairborn?
Fairborn is an extremely business friendly community, and its location adjacent to Wright Patterson Air Force Base
is second to none as a defense contractor. Ohio, particularly over the past few years, is working hard to meet the ongoing needs of companies like Peerless as we look toward expansion.
What resources or organizations in Fairborn and/or Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Within a few months of getting Peerless started in 2000, we moved into The Entrepreneurs Center
(TEC), an Ohio Edison Technology Center, in Dayton. With support from TEC’s Barbara Hayde and her team, we were on our way. In 2005, Peerless built a new headquarters building and expanded in 2009 with the help of Job Creation Tax Credits from the state. And Fairborn and Greene County have supported us every step of the way.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
I used my personal network to find what I thought was going to be my first billable employee, who backed out at the last minute. I learned that we needed more candidates for the project. Our client, much to our surprise, liked two individuals so much that we sold the services of both on our first billable project.
What inspires you?
The longer I’m in business, the more I appreciate how important it is to have a vision. I’m inspired knowing we work toward our vision every day. Our entire leadership team knows where we’re going at Peerless. We talk about it all the time, and that inspires and energizes me.
What founders do you admire and why?
Clay Mathile and Sam Walton. At Iams and Wal-Mart, respectively, both surrounded themselves with great people and had a sixth sense about where they were going and how to get there. I’ve had the opportunity to learn many lessons about business from both and will be forever thankful for what Clay and Mary Mathile have offered entrepreneurs through their generosity at Aileron.
What’s next for you?
Take Peerless to the next level. Work with our staff, especially our next generation of leaders, to fulfill their career dreams. And go on some mission trips and other awesome things with my family.
Interview by Joe Baur