There’s a lot of talk in the federal government about tapping “non-traditional” sources for imaginative innovations. Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is one of those rare contractors that was non-traditional long before it was fashionable. The company was acquired in 1994 by Eren and Fatih Ozmen, Turkish immigrants who came to America as students and have now become billionaires as a result of their out-of-the-box approach to solving national challenges. Rather than taking SNC public, the Ozmens decided to keep the company private so they had the latitude to invest hefty revenues in novel ideas. The unique culture they fashioned at SNC has repeatedly yielded innovations in defense and space that were more imaginative and cost-effective than the offerings of more conventional contractors. Having recently spun off their space operation into an independent commercial company valued at $4.5 billion, the Ozmens obviously have a thing or two to teach the world about how to thrive in a rapidly evolving marketplace. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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