"Do not allow fear to keep you from doing what you want to do."
Meet Nick Koumalatsos—Marine Special Operations Veteran, CEO of Survival and Tactical Systems (STS), and winner of the May Commander’s Call Veteran Business Award. Our team had a chance to catch up with Nick to have him share his experience as a Veteran entrepreneur.
Q. How did your time in the military prepare you for business ownership?
A. Military guys often sell themselves short, but when you look at how they conduct and execute missions, you would see there’s no difference between military operations and business operations. When you apply those same skills to a small business, you really set yourself up for success.
Q. What sparked your idea for STS?
A. I was in contracting and saw that my work was utilized well by the company and was operationally profitable. But I missed being on a small team, conducting operations with a close network of highly trained individuals. I kept thinking, “What is life about?” What I wanted was to shoot guns, work out, go surfing and have a good life. So I thought, “How can I put together a package that reproduces a Special Operations team and make money?” That was the birth of STS.
I built a plan for a training compound where my team and I would impart what we learned in Special Operations to private corporations and civilians. We want to give that small team mentality to our customers and teach them how to protect themselves.
Q. You say in your mission that you are committed to “offering knowledge, training and equipment needed to protect all that you hold dear.” Why is that so important?
A. What we tell our clients is that we live in a volatile time. People are not as safe as they think they are. Our goal is to offer the most quality training you can provide to protect everything you care about—yourself, your property, your wife and kids, and your dog. Life is precious and when it’s gone, it’s gone. We take that very seriously.
Q. What inspired your logo design?
A.When I was thinking about the logo, I researched the top Fortune 500 companies and asked how they branded themselves. What I saw across the board was simplicity. Something simple speaks volumes. I also wanted our logo to mean something and share STS’s ethos and morals. So our logo is a graphic representation of the Spartan shield.
Spartans did not believe in individuals—they believed they were stronger together and trained that way. You only last so long with your shield and weapon, but when you go with your brothers—shield to shield and thigh to thigh—you are almost unstoppable.
Q. What gave you the courage to pursue your dream of business ownership?
A. You’re right, it took courage. I wanted to be in charge of my own success. I wanted to create a team environment. I wanted to build something my team could profit from and proudly say we did it for us. I rolled the dice, used my savings and created STS. We started out in 2013 with me, a business card and a name. By summer 2014 we saw a huge spike which started a snowball effect. Winning Commander’s Call was an amazing step to where we want to take our business.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to fellow Veteran entrepreneurs?
A. Do not allow fear to keep you from doing what you want to do. If you fail, you fail. You show me a successful person, and I’ll show you someone who failed 15 times before succeeding. We cannot allow fear to drive what we do with our business.
Survival and Tactical Systems (STS) is a Veteran-owned business based in Holly Ridge, N.C. that provides high quality, American made firearm products to the Military, Law Enforcement and civilians.