Pride Enterprises, whose clients include the General Services Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Air Force, and the Department of the Interior, was founded in 1996 after Williams himself benefitted from a familial mentorship. Currently, some 90% of the company’s revenues come from government contracting. A graduate of Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in business management, Williams joined his father’s construction business, Robert I. Williams & Associates Inc., in 1990. Over seven years, Williams worked his way up from laborer all the way to vice president of the company. “I guess it’s fair to say that I was on the inside track,” Williams says.
While working for his father, Williams would sometimes handle small projects for local restaurants or churches that weren’t really core to R.I. Williams. “So because he wasn’t paying that much attention, he let me tackle those projects as kind of a side venture.” That side venture, which later became Pride Enterprises, began to grow when Williams realized that focusing on the government space could prove lucrative. “The development of my company became a focus, and I relied on my father, as I always did, for advice and support.”
By working with his father, Williams gained insight into customer relations, corporate culture, motivation, and leadership. “So many of the qualities and abilities that a corporate leader needs, I learned directly from my father,” Williams says. “Fostering a family atmosphere within a company and really developing that all-for-one, one-for-all mentality all came from my dad.” Williams, whose father died in 2001, would later impart these lessons to Bennett.
A Soldier’s Story
As a combat engineer for Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Pfc. Bennett was accustomed to hard work. A Marine, Bennett was part of a unit responsible for facilitating movement and support of friendly forces. This included everything from building bridges to carrying out demolitions and working with explosives. While fulfilling those duties, Bennett’s unit came under a mortar attack while helping move a 700-pound panel for a bridge. “There were about eight or 10 of us lifting it while we took mortar fire,” recalls Bennett, a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica.
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