Where does a Navy Seal go with an idea to improve the treatment of critical wounds on the battlefield? How do you ensure one-hundred percent accuracy of a guided missile? What can you do to make sure critical components can withstand the extreme environment of outer space? All of these questions and more are being answered by a team of one hundred and sixty people at the VIRTEX Corporation in Waynesboro, Virginia.
“VIRTEX Corporation is an electronic manufacturing services (EMS) company. Simply put, we manufacture products for other original equipment manufacturers, primarily in the aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial industries. That could mean something like a piece of electronics that goes on a missile to guide it to its target or a high-reliability component for a satellite or equipment that helps treat wounded soldiers on the battlefield. We have a wide spectrum of services here.” explains Dana Pittman, the Executive Vice President of the VIRTEX Corporation.
The complexity and importance of the work done at VIRTEX is underscored by the larger mission their products support. As Pittman describes, “We’re supporting our warfighters with products that impact them on the battlefield. It can be a life and death situation. A lot of our electronics are used in aircraft cockpit controls and so forth. They have to work. Our products are mission-critical in a lot of ways.”
Also critical to the VIRTEX mission is finding ways to continue their growth. Milestones like securing more defense industry contracts, nearly tripling their machine capacity, and expanding their geographic footprint and employee base have served them well, especially during a pandemic year. Their quick response at the beginning of the pandemic also helped neutralize the impact of COVID-19 on their workforce. The New Jersey VIRTEX facility acted quickly in January and February of 2020. and immediately implemented safety precautions like masks, sanitizing stations, workstation barriers, and heightened cleaning measures. The VIRTEX Waynesboro facility quickly followed their lead, heading off COVID far earlier than many other businesses.
Despite the pandemic, the future looks promising for the VIRTEX Corporation. One indicator of that is a resurgence of manufacturing as a viable career path for young adults. Pittman, a Waynesboro native who started in manufacturing in the 1970s at General Electric (GE), is encouraged by the revived interest in the industry. “There are all sorts of positions available that are interesting to students today. We have everything from hands-on work to IT positions. Manufacturing jobs are a great way to make above market wages with excellent benefits and get a lot of experience in a growth industry,” Pittman explains.
In keeping with his commitment to the manufacturing industry, Pittman also serves as the director of the Virginia Manufacturing Association Council in Richmond to promote beneficial manufacturing legislation for local communities. It’s work that is important to Pittman, who sees both the strategic and quality of life benefits of having VIRTEX in Waynesboro. “Waynesboro is great because we’re right at the crossroads of I-64 and I-81. So from a logistics standpoint, we can easily get our products out to our customers and our raw materials into the plant. Waynesboro is also very business-friendly and is a great place to do business. Yet, it has that small town atmosphere where you can raise a family,” Pittman says.
When asked what advice he’d give budding business leaders, Pittman accesses his answers from his decades of experience. “In a service industry, your customers need to be heard. That means going back to the basics of making sure they can reach someone, not a recording when they call. You also need to think about your vision and hire people who share your core values and support that vision. Then you need to execute flawlessly and meet your customer commitments. Also, keep in mind that we’re all going to fail from time to time; it happens. It’s how we react to those failures that’s important,” Pittman advises.
There will no doubt be more evolutions of manufacturing, and all businesses are facing the uncertainty of the continuing pandemic, but at VIRTEX, one thing remains steadfast, from outer space to the battlefield and beyond, they’re on a mission to make the extraordinary possible across the globe.
To learn more about Dana Pittman and the VIRTEX Corporation, check out the Waynesboro at work podcast! Find the Waynesboro at Work podcast on YouTube, Spotify, Google Podcasts, RadioPublic, Breaker, PocketCasts, and Anchor.