Frances and Waymon Armstrong launched Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS) in May 1997, right before they became engaged. Together, they built a successful small business, specializing in software development and learning solutions, and headquartered in Orlando, Florida. "We wanted to change the world," said Frances. "Change the way people look at technology -- this philosophy has evolved over time, and it has always been about making a difference."
From the beginning Frances Armstrong, ECS Co-Founder and new Chief Executive Officer, played an important role in helping build ECS by providing strategic guidance, as well as her skills in finance. She leveraged her own career in speech language pathology, working full time to help fund the company, which was instrumental during the difficult times such as post-911. "We had to work together," Frances said. "I held two jobs and came in the office on the weekends to work with Waymon, assisting where I could."
Waymon Armstrong’s background in managing computer-modeling activities for a multi-million dollar disaster response organization provided key experience that would serve as a core business area for the newly formed company. His extensive experience in managing large-scale crisis response teams, coupled with evolving computer and video game technologies resulted in a cutting-edge product line that made a huge impact on how our first responders train. This, along with strong community involvement enabled Waymon to quickly become one of the nation's leading voices for small business executives. "As CEO - and now President of ECS, I always believed in the vision, and trusted our mission," stated Waymon. "Frances and I have worked very hard to build a family-oriented business because we both believed in what we were doing. Our strong convictions are really what carried us through the tough times.”
As a family-owned business, Frances and Waymon have demonstrated the discipline and dedication that is indicative of great leadership and entrepreneurship, particularly in maintaining a work/family balance. While raising three children, they managed the business and home responsibilities together. "Being a family-owned business, we treat our employees as part of own family," stated Frances. "Brent Smith (our Chief Technology Officer) was our first employee, and he is still with us today. Brent has become an author, speaker and community leader." Along with Brent, there are a more than a half dozen other ECS employees that have been with the company for over 8 years.
Moving forward the Armstrongs continue to build their business adding employees and skill sets necessary to grow their team. As the employee skill demographic expands, technology-based specialties such as computer software engineers, computer graphics, instructional designers, and program managers contribute to a constantly evolving product line, keeping ECS on the ground-breaking edge of education and learning solutions provided to a strong customer base. "Perhaps our greatest strengths are the relationships with our customers and the dedication which our employees contribute to customize solutions to meet customer requirements."
The Armstrong's strong sense of family is reflected in their day to day operations with the workforce, who are considered an extension of the family. "We try to operate with that family sense of belonging,” said Frances. “We take time to listen and catch up on our second family. Our doors are always open. It is the people in our lives who are most important, and operating as a close knit family, we synergize around our common goal to deliver the best solutions to our customers, and that is what ECS is all about."
Keeping up with trends and staying ahead of the curve is something ECS has prominently established. "We have had to be flexible, change with the times," Waymon stated. "Things do transform, and life is always changing, and we had to change too - the future of ECS depends on it. As we move into the commercial market we will never forget where we came from: helping the first responder and the warfighter."
What holds the future of ECS? "As we diversify and spin off a commercial business, we will continue to offer, in both the DoD and the Commercial sectors, the same stable and talented firm that has been around for a decade and a half," said Waymon. "We are thankful for our new opportunities, for expanding our workforce, and for giving back to our community."
"We plan on being around for a while," said Frances. "We are committed to the future of ECS and proud of what we have built together. The best is yet to come."
CEO - Engineering & Computer Simulations
President - Engineering & Computer Simulations