Who are you and what does Vidar Group do?
“My name is Wes Shover and I am an Air Force Veteran. I spent time in the Air Force as a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), Joint Terminal Attack Controller
(JTACP). In 2010, I was medically retired from the Air Force after back and neck injuries. After retirement, I was hired to train MQ-1/9 Aircrews
as part of a team assigned to the US Air Force MQ-1/9 Formal Training Unit located in Holloman Air Force Base. From 2010-2016, I spent time with other defense programs such as the MC-12W Project Liberty and deployed as a contractor supporting the Boeing Scan Eagle UAS. In 2017, I
co-founded The Vidar Group, LLC with two close colleagues and friends, Charlie Keebaugh and Matthew Miller. They are both also USAF TACP JTAC
As a Service Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business, we employ former and current JTACs from various branches such as the US Army, US Marine Corps, and US Navy to offer courseware development & instruction,
simulated and live-fly aircrew instruction. We are also pursuing Contract awards in various verticals such as Aerial Security using UAS, USAF Special Warfare Assault Kit, USAF MQ-9 Formal Training, Wildland Fire,
and Search and Rescue Operations. We started with 4 staff members and to
date, have employed 100s of current and former Conventional and Special Operations Forces Veterans from around the Globe right here in Grand Forks. We plan to expand our Operations at Grand Sky, while supporting
the War Fighter around the world, ready to deploy anywhere, anytime. “
What was that transition like, coming from the Air Force owning your business? Do you think your experience at the Air Force fueled your next path to owning your own business?
“I got lucky being in the right place at the right time. I was actually hired by my co-founder, Charlie when I separated from the USAF. But, I quickly learned that the Contracting world is unforgiving. I wanted to
found The Vidar Group to create a family of highly skilled Veterans,
prepared to offer something to the world, not many could offer. I wanted to create a company that always looked to improve the lives of their employees and always put them first. I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without forming my own Company. I truly believe, we have
the best of the best in our Company – a family of amazing Warriors that have given a lot to this Country for many years. Now, these guys get to impact the Warfighter in a different way, that’s what’s exciting.”
Can you tell me a little bit more about your entrepreneurial story. What made you want to create your own business? What makes you want to do what you do everyday?
“The people. My career in the Military was cut short due to injuries. I am proud to still have some impact on the Warfighters while I am not still serving.
In 2010, I thought my career was over and that I would just go home to make Maple Syrup in Vermont. Now
that I am a leader of incredible warriors, I am very humbled. These guys are my family and some of them have dozens of deployments – I know what
we have is unique. It’s a blessing. It is very rewarding knowing that we provide other military veterans an opportunity to replicate the family that they had while they were in the military”
How did you come to find the Center for Innovation? How does the partnership between Vidar Group and CFI work?
“We are a remote tenant CFI, but have our own shop just North of town. CFI is really a great asset for being able to host our new staff and stay connected with the community. I mean, UND is really the benchmark of what’s to come in the region and the State. We support CFI’s mission and love the benefits that we obtain from being a tenant.”
What have been some exciting points in the history of Vidar?
“Early success as a startup was definitely critical. Getting past that five-year mark was a a major accomplishment because usually startups fail within the first year and the COVID lockdowns almost crushed us. Luckily, the Defense space for us didn’t shut down, or we would have had to close our
doors. Having that consistent revenue has allowed us to be well-poised and prepared for other opportunities & contracts. But, putting together a great team has been the most exciting part.”
If you had to describe your journey of creating Vidar Group in a few words, what would you say?
“Trust the process”