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October 2022

Arizona alumnus runs fast-growing company

Craig Mount has parlayed years of military service, three Wayland degrees and a truckload of ambition into a thriving business and a designation in the top 5 percent of the fastest growing private companies according to the recent Inc. Magazine Inc. 5000 list, ranked 158th. And now, he’s adding the honor of Distinguished Alumni Award winner for the Sierra Vista campus for 2022 to his resume.

As co-founder and co-owner of Nemean Solutions, LLC (Nemean) with business partner Simon E. Ortiz, Craig is a native of Houston but has spent seventeen years in the Sierra Vista, Ariz., area. The pair maintains Nemean's headquarters in Sierra Vista, but Nemean has projects and employees 

Nemean Leaders
Craig Mount (right) and business partner Simon Ortiz

spread across the United States as they work on government defense contracts supporting cybersecurity, force modernization, military intelligence and special operations missions.

“Generally, our company covers four core areas: cybersecurity and IT services, administrative services, intelligence and military support services, and program and project management. While these are broad areas, our customers are very niche. We have prime contracts with the Army, Navy and Joint Commands supporting everything from testing military systems, conducting experiments, performing anti-terrorism and force protection analysis, training US special operators, to computer and cloud engineering and administration.  It’s pretty amazing that we’re a prime contractor for US Naval Special Warfare for things like realistic military training along three coastlines and simulating maritime combat,” he said. “So we’re bringing in boats, guys who act like bad guys, and aircraft, and supporting Navy Special Operators. Then on another contract we are the prime contractor supporting the Army Research Office and we provide professional finance, administration and property rights specialists.  And that is just two out of many contracts; it is a very diverse team and we do lots of things. The common thread is they all support the US military with very special and skilled professionals.”

Craig said Nemean has contracts supporting Army Military Intelligence Modernization as prime contractor for the US Army Intelligence Battle Lab, and is the prime contractor and a support contractor for most of the U.S. Army infantry weapon system capability development programs.

Much of this work requires secret or top secret clearances and individuals with specialized skill sets. That’s where his experience in the Army and connections come in handy. Not only does Nemean hire many military veterans who hold such clearance and skills, they are also able to sponsor individuals for their initial clearances or hold current clearances for veterans leaving the force. Hiring veterans is something for which Craig is particularly proud, and for which the company has been recognized.

“This year we received the Department of Labor’s Platinum Medallion for the Hire Vets program, its highest award. Last year we earned the Gold Award,” he said, noting the high education level of his workforce as well. “More than 50 percent of our workforce has at least bachelor’s or master’s degrees currently, and as far as clearances go, about 80 percent have some level all the way up to top secret.  Supporting veterans and their families is something we support every chance we get, and that includes encouraging them to continue their professional education and development.”

Set up for success

Craig and Simon have made wise moves to poise the company to be competitive for contracts. For one, they are a Small Business Administration (SBA) certified minority-owned 8(a) company. Last year, they restructured and transferred majority equity of the company to the newly formed native Hawaiian charitable foundation, the Ho'okahua Hawaiian Foundation, opening themselves up to more opportunities and adding a philanthropic arm to the company. Craig still maintains his role as president, and Simon as CEO, and both are still responsible for the daily operations and business side of Nemean. They also established an SBA Mentor-Protégé Joint Venture with Alabama-based Tridium Corporation, and that partnership has been beneficial to their growth.

Craig credits much of his Wayland Baptist University education and military training to help him grow Nemean exponentially, and he’s excited to see where the years ahead will lead.

“What my education at Wayland has really helped me do is build out proper business strategies and get that vetted out, so when people come to us they see us as a real company. We operate that way and treat it that way. We ground everything we do to those principles of management that I learned in Dr. James Moffett’s class 13 years ago. Those same principles are imbedded everywhere in our company,” he said. “Another thing I am proud of is our ethics. We’re highly competitive but we’re not cut-throat. We go out of our way to try to take care of our people and our partners when we go after something. We’re not quiet, and we tend to tell everybody that we’re going after something. We’re up front and actively engaging.  The most important thing my Wayland did was reinforce my military experience and encourage me to just get work done, on time and to the highest quality possible.”

The journey to boss

While he started college like traditional students, he admittedly felt the fit wasn’t right. When the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, Craig left college and joined many Americans in registering for military service, joining the U.S. Army. He spent five years in Fort Hood, Texas, including a deployment in Baghdad, Iraq, and then three years at Fort Huachuca, AZ. There he met his mentor, Mel Albert, who encouraged him to complete his degree while station at Fort Huachuca.

“Mel pushed me to finish my college, and I found Wayland in Sierra Vista and latched on. The next thing you know, I’m walking out with a bachelor’s degree and walking the stage,” laughed Craig. “I

Mount family
Craig and Brittney Mount with Jack, 3

signed up for my first master’s degree and got that done, then went back to get a second master’s degree. I did not want to leave behind any benefits, and Wayland made it fun and accessible.”

Wayland encouraged him to become an adjunct instructor, and he began teaching some introductory management courses and trying to set an example for other Soldiers working through their degrees. He continued to do that for ten years. After finishing his degrees and ending his time in the military, he eventually went to work for Mel’s company and then spent ten years honing his business acumen and eventually became the vice president of operations for the company. He took that same knowledge and, along with coworker Simon, struck out on their own creating Nemean.

Growth has been the active pattern for Nemean, who Craig said jokingly started as two guys working at home on laptops. Five years after “starting on paper” they both work full-time for the company. They bootstrapped the operation, avoiding any outside capital or banking loans, choosing to pour back into the company before taking any paychecks themselves. The business now has 72 full-time employees and several dozen part-time workers and prides itself on providing well for their people and promoting from within. With scaling underway, Craig said they could see numbers hit 200 or more by the end of 2023.

Expansion awaits

Their bottom line has also grown, with revenues projected for this year projected to be around $10 million after their first-year numbers hitting $163,000. Craig says all this goes back to their philosophy on contracts.

“We’ve always been really good matchers. We don’t want to be just givers where everyone takes from you and then you don’t have anything left. But we don’t want to just take from anybody either. So we want to match someone’s level of enthusiasm and level of effort,” he said. “In every opportunity, we try Io bring on a couple of subcontractors who never would have had a shot at a contract we are targeting. If we can win it together then we can throw them a percentage of the work; that has made us competitive and has built up a support system with other companies that we can turn to where everyone matches and is working together.  We also have outstanding mentors and we recognize how blessed we are to have support from so many awesome partners.”

So what does the future hold? Craig said the sky is literally the limit for Nemean and he’s excited for the ride. He loves the flexibility of working comfortably from anywhere at any time and is in the process of building a home with wife Brittney and their son Jack, 3, near the San Antonio area.

“We have a plan we’re following, and we’re right on target. We adjust as needed but generally our plan is unchanged, though we can’t predict everything,” he says. “We just shoot for the stars and if we only land on the moon then it’s still a good day. That’s a pretty good accomplishment.”


Legacy alumnus returning home as alumni director

Wayland Baptist University is welcoming back a native son and legacy alumnus with the addition of Jeffrey Vera as Director of Alumni Relations, effective October 1.

Vera earned a Bachelor of Christian Ministry degree from Wayland in 2017 after coming back to his hometown of Plainview, enrolling as a nontraditional student while working full-time overnights at Covenant Hospital Plainview. He served as a President’s Ambassador and was heavily involved in student mission trips both foreign and domestic.

Since graduation, Vera has worked at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in the School of MedicineJeffrey Vera Admissions office, most recently as Assistant Director of Recruitment and Advising. He’s also a bi-vocational pastor, currently serving as interim at Primera Iglesia Bautista in Lubbock.

“Jeffrey brings both a heart for the missional side of university work and a genuine love for people and a servant-leader mindset to this role at Wayland, and all of those things are crucial,” said Teresa Young, a 1994 graduate who has held the alumni role since May 2017. “I’m excited to see Jeffrey take the operation here to a new level and bring his ideas, innovation and work ethic to benefit his Alma Mater. I know he’ll do great things here and the alumni will love getting to know Jeffrey more.”

Young is stepping back into the development side of the house at Wayland, working primarily with annual giving and grant-writing among other fundraising tasks. She has worked at Wayland for 20 years, starting in 2000 as public relations director and moving into development in 2013 after a two-year hiatus in ministry in Ohio.

“What we do here is so critical to the future of the university and I am pleased at the inroads we’ve made over the last five years. I would not be comfortable handing off the reins to just anyone, but Jeffrey is a perfect choice.”

Vera has served on the WBU Alumni Board since August 2020 and was set to be president this year. He is the son of alumnus Yolanda Vera, a 1983 graduate and retired Plainview educator who also served on the Alumni Board for many years. That heritage and life-changing experience he had at Wayland are part of his excitement at joining the advancement family.

“Being born and raised in West Texas, I have grasped the concept of what family means. It is having integrity, being diverse, trusting in one another, and giving (while gaining) respect,” he said. “I plan on helping implement programs and projects that will engage with our alumni, while strengthening and providing tangible benefits to alumni, the institution and current students.”

Mike Hammack, vice president of institutional advancement, echoed the sentiments of Vera’s fit for the position.

“Jeff has a great love for his university and for the Lord, so we know he will be great to work with our alumni,” said Hammack. “He brings both great experience in higher education and service through the alumni board, so he will be a real asset.”

The Office of Alumni Relations is part of the Institutional Advancement team at Wayland. The office can be reached at (806) 291-3600.


Devotional: Freedom in Christ is accessible

These two passages are favorites and the bases of my Ashes to Crowns Ministries. The two represent what the Lord has done in setting me free from past hurts and bondage. The first passage is Isaiah 61:1-3 and the second is Gal 1:5.

In Isaiah 61:1-3, we find hope for release from bondage. This article will take a different approachFreedom on beach than writing in paragraphs, for the language is beautiful by delineating what the verses mean for us.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted.

He has sent me

to bind up hearts—where the broken, crushed pieces are wrapped with a bandage,

     to proclaim that captives—carried or driven into bondage, even if by themselves—can

     run free and

to release prisoners from darkness—even those who have put ourselves in dungeons or prison bars around their own hearts

to announce with a loud cry the year of the Lord's delight—that He delights in them!!!

     and the day of vengeance of our God—that He will fight for them,

to comfort all who mourn,

to grant to those who grieve a place in Zion

to bequeath on them a crown of beauty—like a headdress or a turban of luxury instead of ashes,

to pour on them the oil of exultation—rejoicing in gaiety instead of mourning, and

to give them a garment of praise instead of a spirit or cloak of despair.

And they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting as a family of the Lord, to glorify Himself."

The second passage is Gal 5:1 that speaks to ongoing freedom. In Gal 5:1, Paul said,

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.

Stand firm, then.

Do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

This passage and all that Isa 61:1-3 says give us plenty of reasons to be free and stay free.

So, we can: 

  • Stop believing the lies of the enemy through those who have hurt or led us to bondage.
  • Realize we are princes or princesses, raised from the ashes to the palace and loved by the Prince of Peace.
  • Accept that the Lord wants us free—that is why He came.
  • Walk free and make decisions based on who we are in Christ, not from bondage.

Dr. Sharon Gresham is a 1970 graduate of Wayland and is a resident fellow at B.H. Carroll Theological Institute. She speaks to women's groups, leads retreats and writes regularly on biblical topics. She and husband Benny, also a 1970 graduate and a retired pastor, live in Burleson, Texas.


From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series of anecdotal memories shared in The Wayland Century, a coffeetable book published during our Centennial celebration in 2009. This story is from Ed Billings, a graduate of 1952 who later returned to Coach at WBU. Ed died in 2013, and wife LaVaye, a 1959 graduate, died in 2019.

Wayland 55 years ago was a real jewel, perhaps not very polished but certainly unique and shining. The administration and faculty were so much a part of all of our lives. 

Ed Billings and teammates
Coach Redin, Ed and teammates

How can I, with a background of physical poverty and a large family that lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, not recall with great excitement having Harley Redin come to Anton, Texas, and recruiting me to play basketball at Wayland in 1948. There is no other way I would have ever gone to college. AAU basketball would have been my limit. Coach Redin even came to get me twice as I left after the basketball season the first year. 

Among many wonderful memories of mine while a student at Wayland is a basketball trip to Mexico City and Guadalajara in cars.  I think it was 1950, and Coach Redin and Red Hardin, the business manager, were in charge. These men and players took turns driving. This was my first trip to Mexico, and I was totally overwhelmed. 

About a year later, the Pioneers flew in a private DC-3 plane that came from Dallas and flew us to Guadalajara. The pilot actually played basketball with our team. We as individuals were allowed to play AAU basketball after the college season. Yes, it was a different time and world!"