The vision for XADS is to create directed energy solutions that save lives.
By Kyle Morey, Madison County Chamber
Pete Bitar and Team by Dale Pickett Photography
It is always a thrill to take a tour inside what I affectionately call 'Pete's Place.' Over 85,000 square feet of life-saving innovation with some extreme sports-like fun mixed in. Saving 18 jobs from a recent fall out of another manufacturing firm, Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems (XADS) is well deserving as a candidate and finalist for the 2012 Small Business of the Year award.
“XADS feels very blessed to be a part of Anderson’s renaissance,” says owner Pete Bitar in an interview with the Herald Bulletin. “We look forward to answering the door when future opportunity knocks for this great city.”
What is the future of XADS and what challenges does Pete face? Read below in a one-on-one interview between Kyle Morey and owner and entrepreneur Pete Bitar.
Morey: What year was your company founded?
Bitar: 2002 as a Defense Company.
Morey: What are the primary products/services of your company?
Bitar: Defense-related non-lethal and counter-IED directed energy systems.
Morey: Why did you choose this industry?
Bitar: It was an area of opportunity that presented itself, based on some ideas I had from 10 years prior. From there, it grew organically, and we continue to propose with ideas to problems that arise in our sector which we think we have a good solution to.
Bitar: Long term, it is multi-fold. We want to make the IED (Improvised Explosive Device), which is currently the biggest killer of troops and civilians in combat operations and has been since 2003, obsolete. Our Xap™ Counter-IED technology destroys roadside bombs without the need to know where they are, and does so consistently, at speed, to set them off ahead of troops so that none are harmed. The vision for XADS is to create directed energy solutions that save lives.
Morey: What are the greatest challenges of your work?
Bitar: It has always been funding, though less so now. We have more ideas than funding ability to pursue them all, so trying to make sure that our innovative spirit stays alive and well, even as we focus on product development and production, is always a challenge. Also, finding qualified talent in our engineering and technical areas is sometimes a challenge.
Morey: What was your greatest achievement as a company in 2012?
Bitar: We perfected Xap™ Counter-IED technology after getting an R&D contract from the Marines to integrate it, and then got a follow on production contract for several units, with potentially hundreds more to follow. We completed this work, went through testing, and are being asked to upgrade the systems for fielding later this spring. We have signed substantial teaming agreements with other companies and are making a name for ourselves in our industry. In fact, the Marines have stated that our technology is the best of its kind that they’ve seen in 10 years and will be the standard for the next 10.
Morey: What are your company goals for 2012?
Bitar: Our goal is to fulfill our orders, merge operations with larger defense companies so that we can handle even more work, and move to dominate our niche in the market for the foreseeable future.
Morey: What would be your ideal vision of your company in 2025?
Bitar: By 2025 we will become a worldwide leader in new defense technologies that transforms the way people fight wars and enforce laws, and in so-doing, save lives and limbs.
Morey: Why Madison County?
Bitar: First of all, it is home. Secondly, we have a great legacy here of entrepreneurship, innovation, and electrical engineering technology development. We are in a perfect position to cast a vision that is achievable for our company here in Madison County that inspires our community to give up the last remnants of the old entitlement mentality, and that inspires fresh thinkers to work hard to do hard things that make the world a better place. We will not cede the fact that we can succeed with new ideas that are invented and made here in Anderson, with companies headquartered here, and we hope that our example proves to others that are looking, that it can be done here, now.
Morey: What is one interesting fact about your company (or company president) that most people don't know?
Bitar: We started in 1997 as a parachute painting company in my basement… “Xtreme Ads” morphed into Xtreme A.D.S. (Alternative Defense Systems) in order to apply for our first contract, which we won.
Morey: What single word best describes the culture or attitude of your company?
Morey: Mac or PC in your company?
Bitar: PC, but our COO uses a Mac. We have not banished him yet…
Morey: What do you and/or your staff donate time to?
Bitar: Many community functions. Several of us were involved for the past three years in City Cleanup and “Do Something” campaigns to help the community. We all volunteer time to various charities on our own (Pete alone contributed 20-25 hours per month to church functions, the Indiana Aerospace and Defense Council, the Madison County Chamber, and the State Chamber of Commerce board, and Crescent Project in Indianapolis), and have often brought in school groups and various student organizations for tours and motivational influence over the years at our facility, in cooperation with the Flagship Enterprise Center, Anderson University, and Purdue University, throughout various venues.
About the Award
The Small Business of the Year award honors a Madison County-owned and MCC member company that has been in business five or more years and has fewer than 100 employees. The company must demonstrate the following characteristics to be nominated and must excel above others to win: demonstrate visible growth and achievements, adhere to the company's brand promise, and invest in the community both through business and community support.
XADS, along with Lambert's Music Center and Majestic Productions, will be honored as a finalist and possible winner of the 2012 Small Business of the Year Award. Winners of this award, as well as the Emerging Business of the Year and Non Profit of the Year, will be announced at the Madison County Chamber's Annual Awards Gala held on February 28, 2013 from 6 to 9 pm at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Anderson. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling Tina at 765-642-0264.