For almost 20 years, DasNet operated largely in the shadows, securing military contracts here and overseas through a combination of connections and loyalty to clients who might have been abandoned if AT&T had had its way when it pulled out of the Middle East in the mid-1990s.
Despite DasNet’s two decades of success in navigating the often-complicated government market, they’d never been part of our Industry Leaders, because that’s an honor reserved for those who nominate themselves and fill out an application outlining their worthiness.
So how did we get DasNet founder David Salley to open up and tell his story and that of the company he started in 1996 while still working at AT&T, first in January and now with a full-blown company profile?
In truth, I’m not entirely sure (although a little motivation from his marketing team certainly moved the process along and allowed us to include the article in our government market-focused November issue).
It helped to have USAV’s K.C. Schwarz on our side, to be sure, since I’ve worked extensively with him and the integrators who make up that organization.
You don’t have to look too far to know there’s something different about Salley.
He certainly stands out in a crowd of so-called “old white guys” who have graced the cover of our magazine since CI launched in January 2011.
But that’s never been something Salley has used to his advantage, he says in the profile, noting he didn’t apply for projects that featured set-aside for companies owned by minorities and/or military veterans because he wanted DasNet to succeed because of its work, not because it could find a loophole.
Salley has steered clear of what he calls “nation building” and he’s never been afraid of using what some would call unique methods to ensure he secured a job he really wanted for DasNet.
Salley also isn’t afraid to encourage his daughters, young relatives and his children’s friends to focus on science, technology, engineering and math in school as a way of landing a career in this ever-increasingly technology-focused world.
But he doesn’t want to be an advocate for making the integration industry more racially diverse.
He believes it’ll happen naturally, and those who find it to be a calling for them will end up there on their own, without him having to steer them there.
I’m glad Salley finally decided to share the story of his success with us and I think it features many lessons that can apply to and inspire others in this industry.
He built his company largely on his own when he realized the customers he was serving were about to be cut off when his former employer slashed thousands of jobs.
He made sure that didn’t happen and has built an international success story because of that commitment to his customers and his ingenuity in figuring out solutions to their problems.