REI Insights

Happy 30th Anniversary, REI Systems!
April 10, 2019
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A message from Shyam Salona, REI Systems’ CEO and Co-Founder

Congratulations to the REI Systems family and thank you to our customers that have entrusted us to help achieve their missions!

As I reflect on the past three decades of REI Systems, three things immediately come to mind: mission impact, people, and timing. When Veer Bhartiya and I founded REI Systems in 1989 our goal was to create an environment in which small teams were empowered to pursue meaningful work, have fun, learn and grow, and deliver results that make a difference in people’s lives. We had the opportunity to learn from and work at several great organizations prior to REI Systems, which allowed us to incorporate what we liked from each and taught us what we wanted to improve on.

Mission impact. We take great pride in having served more than 25 different federal agencies and contributing to important missions in areas such as healthcare, public safety, government transparency, small business development, and scientific research. Just like many IT pioneers, we too started in a basement. 30 years later and nearly 500 employees strong, we never dreamed our company would have made such an impact and we are sincerely humbled by that accomplishment. Whether we are helping manage billions of dollars in grants funding, helping law enforcement acquire bulletproof vests, or providing federal government spending transparency to citizens, we take our job very seriously and understand the smallest actions can result in significant impact.

It’s all about our people. I am humbled by and owe our company’s success to our people. Hiring and retaining people who have a shared vision and passion for leveraging technology has been essential to business. We have employees that have been here since the beginning and our attrition rates are lower than industry averages. The Northern Virginia marketplace has a highly competitive job market, yet I often hear them say that they want to stay with REI Systems because of the people. In return, we have strived to create a culture that empowers people to be innovative and take risks, places family first, promotes flexibility, rewards hard work, and—let’s not forget—is fun. I’m thankful to be part of this organization’s journey as we overcame challenges, celebrated successes, and hired amazing talent.

Thinking long term. Over the past three decades, tough decisions were often made in which immediate success was postponed for the greater good of our stakeholders in the long term. As an example, early in our journey, a customer who was extremely pleased with our work asked us to take on a project that would have tripled the size of our company. Even though we were honored by the request, we knew in our hearts that this new work could not be completed to our level of standards in the allocated timeframe, so we passed on the work. The customer respected our reasoning and appreciated the fact that we didn’t take on a project for the “quick win” and that we didn’t feel we could excel in. Our core principle of making tough choices simply based on what is best for our customers and our employees in the long term has resulted in an organization that continues to experience growth, even under the most difficult times, keeping our core values intact.

My vision for REI Systems is one that increases our impact on millions of people’s lives and grows sustainably to create new opportunities for our staff all while retaining the entrepreneurial spirit of the basement startup from 30 years ago.

Thank you!

Shyam Salona, Co-Founder & CEO