Sometimes the stars align and you get a chance to sit down and chat with some truly fantastic people; happily, that’s pretty much every day here at CHA. Recently, we were able to talk with CHA’s vice president, Charlie Arrants, who graciously answered questions ranging from “What was CHA like back in the day?” to the reader-favorite, “Tell me something fun about yourself.” What came across more than anything is how much fun our vice president is having here at CHA.
“I love what I do,” were almost the first words out of Charlie’s mouth when we spoke, followed closely by, “It has been one of the most enjoyable, memorable experiences of my life.” Charlie first met CHA’s founder, Bill Allen, back in 2004 around the time CHA began. Shortly after, in 2006, Charlie joined CHA, the fifth employee to be hired. He has never looked back. He’s been through all the highs and lows that go along with growing a company from five employees to more than 150 employees. Along the way, he’s helped steer CHA from a company focused strictly on basic Navy training to one that is now paving the way in developing and utilizing state-of-the-art technology to serve many of our military’s training and manpower needs.
When asked what his favorite thing about CHA is, he quickly answered, “the people.” Seventy percent of CHA’s employees are former military. This gives the entire CHA team a unique insight into what its major military clients need and how to best meet those needs. According to Charlie, CHA’s greatest strength lies in hiring employees that are both reliable and “will give you more.” He went on to say, “We work for a higher calling. I know that sounds clichéd, but for many of us it is the reason we come to work.” At this point in his life, he doesn’t need to work. He could easily retire tomorrow, he says, but then he “wouldn’t have the joy of coming to work.” The fact that he goes to work with people who feel that same professional satisfaction is a big reason CHA has enjoyed the success it has.
C-ARTS ranks high on Charlie’s list of recent or ongoing CHA projects. With the Navy’s Sailor 2025 initiative, it’s clear the future of military training requirements lies less in traditional “brick and mortar” settings, and more in getting military members the training they need when they need and where they need it. That CHA, under the guidance of specific government leadership, was able to build and deliver the “most modern training facility ever made available to the carrier warfighter,” is something he is understandably extremely proud of accomplishing. Of course, being a ship manpower guy at heart, Charlie is also pleased with the work CHA does in that area as well. Manpower is, in his estimation, “the most expensive and most important component of any ship or system and the related life cycle costs.” While he’s seen multiple attempts over his 40+ years of experience, he’s very proud of how hard CHA is working on improving the base manpower for the existing crew members.
In five years he sees CHA “doing what we do best:” supporting the warfighter of today and tomorrow. Ten years from now is slightly trickier to predict as it depends on the needs of the nation, but Charlie is confident CHA will be there leading the way. When asked what project or idea he’d like to see CHA tackle he immediately answered, “Really, just providing the most advanced training we can deliver.” Precisely what CHA is already doing so successfully. “Great companies are known by how they react to change, not staying static, looking ahead of the curve. I hope CHA can continue down that path.”
Of course, we had to ask our venerable VP for some fun facts we could share. He told us he’s from the tiny town of Cleveland, Tennessee, outside of Chattanooga, but his accent kind of gives that away. So we pressed for more. He offered that he has been involved in three start-up companies, with CHA being the most successful one. OK…better, but we were looking for more. He told us he’s married to a wonderful lady, a veterinarian. Very cool – and possibly one of the coolest non-CHA jobs around – but we’re greedy. Finally, he provided us with this gem: he calls his 98-year-old mother every day. She was an English teacher, Charlie told us, and she still yells at him every time he uses words in the wrong way. Now that was worth the wait!