Westfield vet starts a disabled small business owned by veterans in the environmental consulting sector • Current Publishing

Indianapolis-based Nexus Impact Center is a way for companies to work in a coworking space. However, the center requires business tenants to have a social element in their business. For Westfield’s Sam Glanders, the social impact of his business is environmental consulting, environmental construction and environmental remediation.

However, Glanders has a different mission. With his company SAGE, he wants to help veterans make the transition to the civilian world.

Glanders retired from active duty in the US Army in 2018 and began working in business development for an environmental company. He recognized that there was a major gap in the federal workforce disabled veteran-owned small businesses, particularly in the environmental consulting field.

Sam Glanders recently returned from a six month assignment. (Photo courtesy of Sam Glanders)

“So I said, ‘Hey, if I started my own shop, would you guys feel like partnering up and chasing down some federal work?’ And they were all there,” said Glanders.

Glanders, 34, started his company a week before the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020.
“This is probably the best time to start a business,” he said, laughing.

Glanders said the primary focus of SAGE is environmental work on the federal side. Some of its major customers include the US Department of Veterans Affairs, primarily in Indiana, and the US Navy and US Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s kind of interesting that we didn’t do a lot of work on the ground,” Glanders said. “But that’s the nature of the beast when it comes to chasing government contracts.”

On the spot, Glanders said he wants to sign contracts with the Indiana Department of Transportation or Indiana city labor contracts. SAGE only works in the commercial sector.

The role of SAGE changes depending on the client. For example, Glanders said for the VA that SAGE will oversee asbestos remediation.

“We’re working with reclamation companies and we’re essentially managing the project and overseeing it,” he said.

Glanders still serves in the US Army Reserves. As a master sergeant, he recently returned from a six-month deployment in Niger.

Glanders said he plans to remain in Indianapolis so that SAGE can “get a strong foothold” in the Midwest. He said there are many government contracts in the Great Lakes region and parts of Kentucky and Illinois.

“We’re really trying to expand in that direction,” he said.

Glanders said the Nexus Impact Center has been “phenomenal” in helping him get started.

“One of the things that we really appreciate is when we looked for (space) the first year we were onboarded, it was COVID,” Glanders said. “So everyone was working from home. We reached out to them and (Executive Director) Robin (Lee) put us through a nice easy transition from work to home to over there.”

At the Nexus Impact Center, Glanders was able to speak to other companies about managing corporate assets during the pandemic.

“It’s not an easy task, so having the support network there was a big help for us,” he said.

Companies in the Nexus Impact Center must have a social impact element in the way they do business. Lee said companies run the gamut. For example, you’re working with the opioid epidemic, you’re helping veterans entering the job market, you’re helping recently released inmates enter the job market, among other things.

“All of these things have a dual purpose,” Lee said. “So, yes, it’s a revenue model and everything (in the Impact Center) is priced below market to help companies adopt, grow and scale, and exit Nexus. You must be a nonprofit or for-profit organization that embeds impact in your model.”
Visit sage-grp.com for more information.

SAGE Business Manager Bob Verworn works on a project. (Photo courtesy of Sam Glanders)

Improvement of the Veterans Community

As a military veteran, Sam Glanders knows what it’s like to transition from active duty military to civilian life. He wants to make that transition easier for veterans.

“One of the things we’re really focused on is how can we better serve the veteran community?” said Glanders, who owns SAGE, an environmental consulting firm. “I was in active service for ten years. How can I transition with these skills that I’ve been doing for so long, and then where is this sector?

Without a college degree, Glanders wasn’t sure where he would fit into the workforce.

“One of the things we’re working on is how we can translate military skills into a civilian resume,” he said. “You can’t just sit there and say on your resume, ‘Well, I was an infantryman,’ and that leads to any kind of skills that the civilian world would sit there and say this (person) is attractive. But you weren’t just an infantryman. They were responsible for a number of X devices. How many times did you have to do logistics to get this from point A to point B? As for leadership, how many people were you responsible for? Try to frame those experiences in a way that a civilian can understand.”

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