The Knox Regional Development Alliance during its annual meeting of investors at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College recognized Meade County defense contractor Universal Spartan for making the prestigious Inc. 5000.
KRDA Board Chairman and Abound Credit Union CEO Ray Springsteen lauded Universal Spartan founder and CEO Alejandro “Alex” Ramirez for leading one of the fastest growing and most successful private companies in the United States.
“Alex’s leadership in guiding Universal Spartan to this distinction is worthy of celebration,” said Springsteen in a news release. “One of KRDA’s goals is to help foster and support defense-related business growth in our region. We’re so glad Alex chose our region to do business.”
Inc. 5000 companies are often where future household names first make their mark. Companies such as Microsoft, Zappos, Under Armour and Patagonia are all former Inc. 5000 companies.
“Successful companies like Universal Spartan help make our region a better place to live and work,” said Springsteen. ”We’re proud to see the accomplishments of Alex and Universal Spartan and look forward to continued growth and prosperity.”
The Inc. 5000 list ranks companies with over $2 million in annual sales by overall revenue growth over a three-year period. Ramirez said the company, which specializes in providing tactical, IT, electrical, industrial and medical equipment, has realized more than a 1000% growth in sales since 2017.
Of the 5,000 companies, Universal Spartan ranked 457 in the United States, fourth in Kentucky and No. 1 in the Elizabethtown, Bowling Green, Lexington and Cincinnati markets.
Ramirez, a military veteran, founded the company in 2013 after retiring from the Army at Fort Knox. Ramirez says he regularly calls upon the lessons learned from his military service in running the business, particularly lessons in persistence and discipline.
“Learning how to navigate the government procurement process is no easy task. It can seem so overwhelming, but the military taught me to do my research, develop a game plan, stick with it and adapt or adjust as needed,” said Ramirez in the release.
Ramirez said he chose to establish his business in the area because of support he had both from his family and the broader community.
“This region provides an unmatched quality of life for me and my family. Just as important is its positive business climate and the community’s supportive nature, especially toward its military veterans,” said Ramirez. “Organizations like KRDA, ECTC, the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Small Business Development Center and countless businesses and individuals all want to help you succeed. It’s really something special.”
KRDA CEO Jim Iacocca called the accomplishment remarkable but not surprising based on his experience watching Ramirez at work, according to the release. He said what he finds most special about Ramirez is his desire to give back and help others through his non-profit, the Kentucky Veterans Business Alliance.
“Alex, like many veterans, has what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur: perseverance, dedication and an ironclad work ethic. We are so proud that he chose to do business here in the Greater Fort Knox Region,” said Iacocca. “But we are equally, if not more, proud of his commitment to give back and help fellow veteran entrepreneurs through the Kentucky Veterans Business Alliance. It epitomizes the selfless service we are all taught to embody as soldiers.”
Ramirez said he founded KVBA after attending trade shows with other veteran entrepreneurs.
“I saw we were all in the same boat and could benefit from sharing ideas, advice, resources and best practices,” Ramirez said. “For me, it was a great way to continue to serve and help my fellow veterans.”