Cape Henry Associates (CHA) has been awarded a task order under Seaport-e. This five-year contract inclusive of options will see CHA supporting the Navy’s in-service aircraft carriers with Manpower, Personnel, and Training (MP&T) products and services. CHA’s Chuck Wythe had this to say upon learning the news: “Yes! Long live the Cape!” As always, CHA remains committed to supporting our armed services with the latest technology and cutting-edge products.
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!
The Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS) continues to impress as it is integrated more and more into the Navy’s training programs. Since its introduction by Cape Henry Associates (CHA) last year, the number of C-ARTS being ordered and delivered is growing. The baseline system, CHA’s award-winning Lighthouse-powered High Velocity Learning Environment (HVLE) as configured for the C-ARTS program, is bridging the delivery gap between brick-and-mortar schoolhouses and the Fleet.
Designed as part of the Navy’s Sailor 2025 Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) initiative, C-ARTS has been well-received from day one as a more economical alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schoolhouse build-out with the added benefit of bringing the training to the point of need. From concept to delivery, the initial order only took a short 16 months to complete. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Bill Moran (then VCNO), visited some of the first C-ARTS trailers at CHA headquarters in Virginia Beach last year and noted the “really impressive” acquisition speed while being briefed on the SBIR Phase III rapid acquisition strategy utilized by PEO Carriers.
Currently, C-ARTS is serving crews of the CVN 78 ship class. What better way for the next generation of warfighter to train than with the next generation of training delivery? Check out the video to see what C-ARTS is all about and how it is revolutionizing the Navy’s training game.
Cape Henry Associates (CHA) has been awarded a 12-month contract with United States Fleet Forces Command (USFFC) in support of Ready Relevant Learning (RRL) initiatives. The contract will run from June 2019 through May 2020 and provides Career-Long Learning Continuum Analysis and Support. The purpose of the USFFC effort is to identify and coordinate the career-long training requirements necessary for both the individual Sailor and the Fleet in order to provide for quicker learning and better knowledge retention.
“This contract award adds to CHA’s RRL-focused business portfolio alongside our other programs like the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS), and the continued development of our Lighthouse technology stack via DoD investment through SBIR Phase III contracts,” said CHA Chief Revenue Officer Chuck Wythe. “This win is in line with our vision for CHA’s involvement in the future of Navy training. We are looking downrange and there is nothing in that view that isn’t RRL, LVC, AI, and AR. Our long-term business strategies reflect that observation. Our internal R&D initiatives reflect that observation. Our product roadmaps reflect that observation. And now our training and training systems business growth are validating that observation.”
A common theme among CHA employees is a true love of the work-life balance we strive to create here. So, this time we’re focusing on a member of our team who used to work in the CHA office, but now performs her duties primarily from her home office, creating awesome work product while caring for her busy toddler.
Monica Landrum is one of our stellar Instructional Systems Designers. She loves her job and could, truly, go on for days about what she does. Simply put though, she takes raw, technical material and turns it into easy-to-read, easy-to-learn material to be used in training. Monica has been with us for five years now and truly excels at her job.
Her favorite thing about CHA is (surprise, surprise) the work-life balance she is able to maintain. When she was physically in the office she loved seeing her coworkers all day. We don’t blame her; one of our favorite things about CHA is the people who work here. The ability to take a sometimes challenging job and make it fun and interesting (Monica’s words) is what fosters the creativity and team spirit we’re so proud of at CHA. Now that she works remotely, Monica’s absolutely favorite thing is how adaptable CHA is. She is able to work from home, but still feel included in the workday. As an aside, Monica asked that we give Jackson Wages, IT director, a shout out from his favorite “problem child.” His ability to fix whatever it is she messes up makes her job so much more manageable from any location while at the same time making her feel she’s still a part of things.
According to Monica, she is an overall goofy person who has somehow been blessed with a decent bit of intelligence. She is goofy, in the best way, but we’d say she has inherited more than “a decent bit of” intelligence. She is a very people-oriented person, which she finds ironic since 95 percent of her day is spent alone working at a computer. We’d argue that her people-oriented personality is exactly why she’s so good at her job. She can take that above-average intelligence and couple it with an innate ability to know just how someone needs to receive the vast amounts of training material she produces. Only someone who truly understands people can manage what Monica does.
Monica herself is not a veteran, but she is a Navy “brat” through and through. Both her father and her stepfather are Navy veterans and she kept the tradition going by marrying a Navy vet. She and her husband are the proud parents of a 2-year-old son and a soon-to-be-born daughter. Perhaps one of them will carry on the proud Navy tradition in Monica’s family. For now, she and her former submariner husband are kept busy chasing after a rambunctious toddler and preparing to discover what life is like with a daughter. Throw in their beloved Olde English Bulldog, Marley, and the family is complete.
When she’s not producing amazing training materials for CHA, Monica is busy spending undistracted time with her son. While the terrible twos can be taxing, she loves watching him learn and grow into his personality. After her daughter is born, she plans to enjoy a glass of wine or two here and there and continue to spend undiluted time soaking in her family.
Monica hopes she’s still with CHA five years from now, whether it’s back in the office or remote. She sees CHA as the go-to contracting company for manpower and training analysis, in large part due to the strong, reliable reputation we have and continue to build with our customers. She considers CHA to be an important part of her life and hopes to be a part of things for a long time to come. We’re pretty sure her wish will come true.
When asked for a little-known fact about herself, Monica told us that a long, long time ago she knew a LOT of line dances. She whiled away many evenings at the Eagles Nest in Chesapeake dancing with her best friends. In fact, her “sweet dance moves” snagged the attention of her now husband. So, it isn’t an urban legend; some people really do meet their future spouses in a bar. Line dancing. It happens. Maybe you’ll get a chance to ask Monica about that someday. Until then, she’ll be happily producing training for CHA. And probably bugging Jackson for IT help.
It’s hard to pin down Cape Henry Associates’ chief revenue officer, Chuck Wythe, but when you do, you’re always guaranteed a good chat. Recently, we had the privilege of spending some time with Chuck and catching up on where he sees CHA now and in the future.
CHA: Thanks for taking some time to chat with us today, Chuck. We just have a few questions. To start, what are some current CHA projects you’d like to ensure we talk about?
CW: Well, I think I can boil it down to my top three. First, C-ARTS, obviously. I know it’s a project that was big for us last year, but now it’s been tested and is in Fleet and has had some high-level visitors. It’s been a great product that we’re continuing to refine even as we’re taking orders for more. That program allowed us to make additional investment in our Lighthouse technology and add more features to the stack. It’s been well received; we are seeing the demand and we think it will be a large growth segment of our business going forward.
Second, I am excited about the recent developments in the AR/MR world, or what my daughter still calls the “magic glasses.” Microsoft has just come out with a new version of the HoloLens right as the Army signed a half-billion-dollar contract with them to provide hardware. The developments in this technology are just scary, powerful, amazing stuff right now and we’re pushing to tie in the obvious next step, which is AI use with the new hardware. So our already successful Lighthouse technology is going “next gen,” for lack of a better word. Development is moving faster than we expected and I’m excited about the opportunities to be in front of AI and AR collaboration.
Last, I think our development as a company makes my top three. We’ve had some recent contract wins that will leverage our Lighthouse tech but deliver containerized, deployable solutions for machine learning and AI. Three years ago, we would not have been discussing some of the most exciting technologies on the planet here at CHA. We are doing that today, though, and that’s a testament to CHA’s agility. It puts a smile on your face.
CHA: Speaking of AI and the AR/MR world, what’s CHA’s vision for the future of MR? Where does CHA envision taking the technology?
CW: I think, for CHA, we’re looking at the “low hanging fruit” for AR, the stuff that is an obvious application for us. For us, that means tools at the point of work. Envision a virtual helper, guide, or safety watch, if you will, for those who work in maintenance, safety, and related fields. That’s short-term, because the ROI is obvious. For the long term, we’re looking at the confluence of AR technology and machine learning and AI. The predictive analytics market is hot and it’s hard to imagine a better game-changing combination of technologies than the AR wearables with all the sensors and AI. It’s mind boggling, really. and not theoretical. The tech is here, and capable.
CHA: What are you most proud of right now?
CW: That’s a two-fold answer. On a corporate level, I’m so impressed by how CHA has transformed over the last couple of years. True, it’s been on a plan, but we’ve gone from a 100% services company to one that is split 50-50 between services and products. This has been incredibly challenging for our leadership team, but they’ve risen to that challenge and grown professionally. Then I’d say that I’m proud of how we’ve expanded our customer base. We’re not just a Navy company anymore, but have expanded to include more Navy program offices, as well as the Army and Defense Intelligence Agency. It’s just a fun time to be in tech and training again. After a 10-year lull, people are engaged and not so risk-averse. They want to see where tech can go and what they can do with it.
CHA: What are some of the upcoming events CHA will attend?
CW: We just got back from the Technical Exchange on Augmented Reality in Maintenance and Material Management (3M) conference in San Diego. That was just a great time. It was interesting and great to be there where they were showcasing new tech and to see what agencies are doing with it. We’ll be attending I/ITSEC again this year. I’ve been asked to serve on the Training subcommittee, which will review all the papers ahead of the conference. And we’ll be at the SBIR/STTR conference in Massachusetts in April. That’s what I know off the top of my head.
CHA: Thanks for taking time to sit down with us. It sounds like CHA has a lot of exciting things happening in 2019. Any final words?
CW: Just that I’m looking forward to the growth I expect for CHA this year. It’s an exciting time to be doing what we do.
O’Max Gardner Williams III has been with CHA for three years as one of our Quality Control managers and one of our Audit Coordinators. True, the word “audit” doesn’t always have the best connotation, but O’Max and his team are responsible for making sure we at CHA remain in compliance with ISO requirements, and for that we owe them a huge thank you! His attention to detail makes him a standout Quality Control manager, so with O’Max around, CHA never worries that we’ll release products that aren’t up to standards.
You’re probably wondering about his name: O’Max Gardner Williams III. There’s always a story to go with those family names, isn’t there? O’Max’s story is very cool and involves the 57th governor of North Carolina. Way back when O’Max’s grandfather was born, Oliver Max Gardner (no relation) was running for governor. His name was often printed in the newspaper as O. Max Gardner, and so O’Max’s great-grandmother named her third son Omax Gardner Williams – combining the politician’s first initial and middle name. Fast forward a few decades to when Omax Junior started receiving mail at the same house as his dad…the apostrophe was added to Junior’s name to help differentiate between the two. Today, O’Max proudly bears his unique name and has continued the tradition with a slight variation: his son is named Oliver Max (just like the original inspiration), but if he decides once he’s grown that he wants to be the fourth O’Max, the current O’Max won’t complain! We bet North Carolina’s 57th governor never knew what a family tradition he inspired!
When he’s not explaining the origin of his name, O’Max enjoys the flexibility of his work schedule. With two small children at home ̵ the aforementioned Oliver Max, who is 3, and Quinn Rose, who is 1 – the fact that CHA understands that life happens is truly appreciated. Plus, he really loves his bosses. We agree, O’Max, CHA has the best bosses anywhere!
Although those of us who work with him might think O’Max is pretty reserved, that’s only half of the story. Outside of work he’s quite entertaining. He loves joking around, debating sports, and being silly with his kids. This makes sense because he is crazy proud of his children and has spent the last eight years working part-time for Chesapeake Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in the athletics department, supervising youth and occasionally adult sports events. He also plays and coaches adult coed kickball. We really think CHA should field an adult kickball team and nominate O’Max to be the coach! As you might expect, being outdoors and being part of a diverse community are important to O’Max, and he loves that he can combine both at CHA.
O’Max believes CHA will only get better. With employees like O’Max ensuring we release high-quality products, we agree we can only improve and expand on the technology and products we offer in support of our armed services. O’Max says he hopes that in five years or so he’ll have a CHA office with a view (window) and a door. We’re pretty sure if he’s set that goal, he’ll achieve it!
For now, you can find his proverbial door open as he is always ready to help or just engage in conversation. So next time you’re in the CHA office, stop by and say hi. Since you already know the story of his name, you can ask him about his favorite sports teams or set a date to show off your mad kickball skills. Rumor has it you can find some serious adult kickball competition in our area!
We’re excited to spend a little time with Casey McClay, one of our stellar Instructional Systems Designers (ISDs). Like many CHA employees, Casey wasn’t sure why we wanted to highlight her in our blog series since she’s such a “boring” person, but we’re pretty sure you’ll agree that, like all our employees, Casey is anything but boring!
Casey has been an ISD at CHA for 2½ years and spent 1½ years doing the same job for KOVA before she came to us. Although Instructional Systems Designer sounds very cool (at least to us), Casey prefers to view her career as that of a technical writer. She loves delving into data and focusing on how that data can be manipulated for different purposes, depending on the audience and the overall function of a document. Yes, Casey is “that person,” and because of her unique talents CHA’s data is well-scrubbed and accurately portrayed. Which pretty much makes her a rock star in our book.
With Casey’s penchant for data, is it any wonder that one of her favorite things about CHA is the sheer amount of data we house? She loves when different teams get together to talk and collaborate, seeing how we can approach the same process many different ways but all arrive at the same result. That provides endless opportunities for learning something new and Casey loves discovering new ways to learn. In addition, she enjoys the very modern approach to employment and business practices at CHA. She loves that CHA is concerned about employee welfare and dedicated to helping employees achieve a “breathable environment” where collaboration and civil discourse take precedence over office politics. Since we work hard to ensure all our employees’ voices are heard and respected, we’re glad that Casey notices and appreciates us as much as we do her.
Casey would have you believe she’s quiet. Well, maybe she is if you don’t share an office with her! She is constantly full of new and interesting conversation and that makes the workday fly by. A creature of habit who is not really fond of change, she is, however, one of the most open-minded people we know and is truly able to see and appreciate all sides to a problem and solution.
Although not a veteran herself, Casey comes from a long line of veterans. Finding herself employed by a military contractor does not come as a surprise to her as both of her parents currently work on DoD programs. She’s used to the military way and has a passion for serving our country in her own way. She and her dog, Orion, have lived in the Hampton Roads area for several years now and have formed a pseudo-family unit with friends and co-workers, something our military families know all about.
We love that when we asked, Casey said her nonwork hobbies all involve the creative process. From cooking, gardening, and crafting to more technical hobbies like auto repair, Casey keeps her mind busy and always learning. She even sometimes finds herself critiquing the documentation relating to her various hobbies and losing focus on the project at hand while mentally rewriting it! She also admits that there are weeks when she becomes a couch potato, binging video games like when she was a teenager.
Casey plans to make CHA her work home for the foreseeable future. She wants to see us continue our involvement in training and branching out to develop other publications. She’d love to get her hands on more technical documentation and find more and better ways to present it to have a major impact on someone else’s learning capabilities. We’re pretty sure this is her dream job and if it keeps her here, we may have to find a way to make this happen.
Casey is pretty much an open book. Did we mention that she thinks she’s quiet? Yeah, not so much. We do know a lot about her, even that she’s a Taylor Swift fan, surprising as some might find that. She’s positive that if she ever got to meet the entertainer, she’d be making that “ugly-cry face” preteens make. So, next time you’re in the office, stop by and meet Casey. Ask her what her favorite Taylor Swift song is or ask her to make the “ugly-cry face.” Either way, we guarantee you’ll be entertained. Just don’t get her started on data presentation unless you’re as big a data nerd as we are. Whatever you talk about, we’re positive you won’t think her quiet or boring!
Representatives from NAVSEA PMS 378, COMNAVAIRLANT, NAVFAC MIDLANT, Cape Henry Associates (CHA), REI Systems (site contractor), Huntington Ingalls Industries – Fleet Support Group, and the crew of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) put their shovels to work Feb. 6 to break ground and start making a semi-permanent home for the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS) at Site Q99E on Naval Station Norfolk, VA. Site Q99E, located only 1,200 feet from Naval Station Norfolk pier, will include multiple concrete pads for the C-ARTS units, regular and emergency electrical power support, and bathroom facilities and be the base from which four C-ARTS units will provide high velocity training for the crews of the CVN 78 ship class, the Fleet’s newest warfighters.
Under NAVSEA PMS 378 leadership, the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS) hosted its first fiber optics training class COI December 3-10, 2018. Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII), one of Cape Henry Associates’ partners on the C-ARTS project, has released a video sharing highlights of this first training. Check out the video to see C-ARTS training in action and experience one of the ways CHA and supporting defense contractors are paving the way to 21st century U.S. Navy training.