Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce
Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce

Episode 24 · 1 month ago

Why You Need the Right Partnerships with Jose Adan Gutiérrez


Jose Adan Gutiérrez is the President & CEO at Serentek International. Jose has more than 35 years of experience across the military, civilian, and private sectors, and is an expert in executive management and corporate strategy, business development, business operations, and program management.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The importance of finding and building the right relationships
  • How to address the USA’s current supply chain issues
  • The differences between managing small and large companies
  • Why developing situational awareness is key for small business leaders   

Uncle Sam’s Secret Sauce is hosted by Rafael Marrero, Founder and CEO of Rafael Marrero & Company, which helps small companies do business with the world’s biggest customer: the U.S. Federal Government.

You're listening to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce, a Raphael Morrero and Company podcast. This is a show for US small business owners and decision makers looking to grow their business. You're about to hear a conversation with successful entrepreneurs in the fields of construction, janitorial, cybersecurity and more. Here you'll learn how to sell to the government and what this secret ingredients are for effective marketing for small businesses. Let's get into the show. Our next guest is the CEO and President of Serentech International. Mr. Gudires is responsible for overall Serrentech executive management and corporate strategy. He has more than thirty five years of experience in the military, civilian and private sectors and is an expert in executive management, corporate strategy, business development, business operations, and program management. Mr Gudires is fluent in Spanish and possesses extensive intelligence, joint and inter agency law enforcement coordination, ports, security, and diplomatic experience in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Mr Gudires also has more than twenty years of experience as a naval intelligence officer occupying sensitive US national security positions at various levels of responsibility and leadership at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. Prior to founding Serrentech International, Mr Gudires also held senior level positions at global technology companies, including, but not limited to, Vice President US Southcommon, LA TAM At Science Applications International Corporation, A S a i C, Vice President LATAM Programs at Mission Essential Personnel, and General Manager at in the Tech. Mr Gudires holds a master's degree National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, a master's degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from New York University in Spain, and a b A Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at El Paso. Let's welcome Mrs to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. Mr Gutierrez, thank you for joining Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. Well, thank you for having me here. It's a pleasure, it's an honor. Actually, I watch your program religiously. The honor is all our sir. You have an illustrious career in the military and having served as a naval officer, and I thought you'd be a great role model for others to hear from and learn from. Please tell us about your family origins and your professional career. Uh. Well, I'm one of six children from a mother from Texas El Paso, Texas and my father who was born from in Mexico. Very good, so a big familiar Oh yes, yes, cousins and uncles on both sides of the border and other countries as well. Wow. Wow, that's that's fascinating. So um, what led you to join the United States Navy? Oh? Interesting question, you know, draft, I have to tell you it was a sense of adventure. It truly was. At that time. I'm talking in late eighties. I was teaching at New York University and in the main campus in Manhattan, and a friend of mine, who was a pilot during World War Two, had a couple of planes. He took me up and I didn't realize I really wanted to fly there I realized I did. So I had an option either pay a lot of money to learn how to fly privately or join the Navy. But I decided to join the Navy. You know, stayed four years or so, and then lead and I...

...stayed twenty two years. So you thought of this as an opportunity to fly, but you kept sailing. Huh. Yes, you know, from an adventure, I really found my vocation. I love Navy life. I love I love the commitment, the mission of the Navy. UM and I understand fully what the Navy means for our national security. Perhaps younger I didn't have a full understanding of the United States Navy naval power, but I did learn because I'm matured and went up the ranks. That's fascinating. And so after leaving the well, after your your your honorable discharge from the Navy, you then went into the Department of Defense and consulting World and UH as a as a contractor, and then you you started working for other firms. Tell us about your experience as a defense contractor. You know, that was a pretty easy transition for me. Of course, at one point during my actor service, I changed from aviation to intelligence, which I really loved and thrived in that field. Naval intelligence really prepare me for what was to come after I retired, or I should say just before retiring. UM, I had a number of offers from defense contractors. And the key here is that in our country, experience in the military is valued highly unlike other countries, you know, where officers retire and then that's it, they disappeared, they go live their retire life. Not in the United States. We take advantage of all that experience and in some cases wisdom and the defense industry hires retired military. So when I transition from the Navy to at that time s A i C. Which is a large for defense contractor um, it was a very seamless transition because a lot of my colleagues were there already and it was just going from being the customer as an active naval intelligence officer to now being the provider of solutions to that same community. So my transistion was again it was similars and now not traumatic at all, and and and a great fit for giving your prior background and core competency. So today you are the president and CEO and founder of a fascinating firm, Serrentech International. What is your firm specialize in? Interesting in putting together teams of companies that will resolve large problems. To start with, s AC was my university, if you may. This is where I learned contract thing. This is where I began to understand the relationship between private industry, UH and government at all levels. UH. And so after so many years of working for s I c UM and then subsequently with Mission Essential, then I decided to to be in the pend UM. I decided to provide the same solutions, you know, everything that I've learned in these two companies. But on my own I had an angel investor who believed in me and that allowed me to then launch seren Tech. So what we do RAFA is once we understand what our potential customers problem is, then we defined or or develop a solution and offer several options to resolve those issues that the customer needs resolved. At the end of the day, what seren Tag does is identified the right American companies. Well I shouldn't say just American...

...companies. We also bring in international companies. We bring companies from South America, we bring companies from Europe, and we put together a team that is specifically tailored to address that challenge or that problem that our customer has. And that's throughout Latin America, not just in the United States. Correct. So your firm is actually assistance integrator and it's UH, and it's in its own right and you you solution, you architect solutions for uh C four right UH, communications computers right UH basically command control communications and computers and UH and in support of the mission essential UH programs in the United States Military. Basically that is correct profile we you know, once we could be the government, a friendly government of course in the region, or it could be an agency within United States. And that is precisely what sarain Thing brings to the table, is the right the universe of companies, sometimes very large scheams, sometimes small teams. You know, we address the issue. We don't revent the will, so we built on what the customer has. We provide that solution by integrating systems at a very high level all the way down to very small tactical details. Fantastic. And so who are some of them? Who are Can you name some of the government agencies that you've worked with as part as part of your past performance? Oh my goodness, you know, basically I wouldn't want to say, all right, but you know, of course primarily Department Defense. I really am so familiar with Department of Defense. I I feel just at home. However, also with law enforcement agencies. If I lived another life, I would have been at the E A agent, you know, because I have for the a UM. I've learned their mission. I supported their mission during my last three years of active duty. So I've worked with the contracts with the e A. But there's others you know. We have worked with FEMA. We have worked missions for FBI, for the FBI, I'm sorry, UM, and several other federal yeah d os and other programs I imagine in support of c n T p O programs UH in in the in the region, yes, and in different countries. Absolutely. We love working with I n L within the departmental state because they have great programs that help friendly governments resolve some of their law enforcement issues. I can see how a man with your talent and skills would be in much demand given the UH the challenges in the region, specifically in this area of responsibility throughout LA Town. Thank you so much so now. And by the way, the private sector is also a great target for you as a as a contractor because the the breadth and death of expertise that you bring from a security consulting perspective for multinational companies in conducting institutional risk assessments or as part of due diligence teams weighing the options of investing or not in specific theaters. You know this, this actionable intelligence is very important, right, These risk assessments are very very important. Two potential investors that want to open up a plant, let's say in a specific geography, what are the conditions on the ground, what are I is their civil unrest? Is my investment going to be safeguarded? Is this a wise choice for me? So these are some of the things that I that I imagine Sarentech International can help with as well. Yes, And we love doing this because you know, instead of just going in there and pretending to know everything and resolve somebody's problems, we can't. We have to first understand it. We have to understand it lastly directly from our customer.

Now, once we do, of course, and once we do the analysis, this is when we qualify and quantify what could be potential solutions. I'll tell you in a Caribbean country that right now I cannot mention simply because we haven't contracted and I have to respect their privacy. They haven't allowed me to discuss their program, but they want to make steps to resolve their lowing endemic low in first enforcement corruption issues. And when you talk corruption in law enforcement. Right, it's not that bad apples here. They are apples there. You can just win him out. No, no, no, Sometimes it's yendemic. And this is where saying that comes in together with the partnering with Department State supporting Department of State Missions and requirements and other agencies, and we help our customers and it's long range. That's the first thing they have to understand. You don't change of a corrupt institution or even a culture within that institution in one or two or three or four years, um. It takes many more years than that. So we do that as well. Right, it's somewhat reminiscent of the work that was previously done by National Defense University with the Nation Lab and the studies on corruption there. Yes or absolutely yes. We go in there and we meet with the highest levels of authority all the way down to the tactical forces that are enforcing their laws. So are you also involved in modeling, simulations and analysis very much? So. You know, we as the company, we don't have the capability, but we always that's why we put this universe of companies together to provide a full solution. So when that is required. I love working with a Canadian company by the way Sea who does amazing modeling and simulation. So most of the time I asked them to join our teams. Of course A requires that. Fascinating. Now let's talk about diversity. Um, I understand that year of Hispanic descent and and and background. And so your company is currently and you're also a veteran. Which socio economic designations does your firm hold as a small business? Well, it's it's basically, um, you know, being a small business owned by by by a veteran. Okay, So veteran own small business there as as defined by the SPA and the CV. Perfect. Okay, great. And have you entered or contemplated entering into any joint ventures or mentor protege agreements with larger firms that may be interested in lear beating your capabilities? Yes? Absolutely, And you know I would highly recommend to anybody who has a small company like mine because that benefits both sides of the equation. You know, a large company by by doing that. And I did that. You know, I was on the other side when I was at s I S I was always looking for small companies to partner with me. Basically that's where my opportunities always came from small companies. They knew what was going on. Now as a small company I create, you know, I benefit immensely from larger companies. Mission Essential, for example, always is calling on me to help their their efforts, especially in our area in Latin America and the Caribbean. Oh if I were in their shoes, I'd be doing the same. I mean, it's wise to lean on and rely on on high quality individuals that can help round out their teams. And that's what teaming is all about. So tell us about some of the recent contracts your firm has been awarded in the people that you form teams with. You know, it's thank you for that question. Because because of the pandemic, directly because of the pandemic um everywhere in that America, things just stopped, they fruits as far as...

...government requirements right in the region. I had been working programs in Mexico, in Panama, in Peru, and all of a sudden, they the budgets dried up or they were frozen right understandably so. And it wasn't until um recently where this country that I mentioned to you in in in the in the Caribbean. UM reached out to me to put together a proposal that will hopefully be put in place very soon. And and they seriously want to work with their law enforcement agencies to do better for their societies. UM. But thank goodness, I did have contracts that would carry me on during the pandemic um uh, with the Southern Command, with South cam UM. South COMB is like my second home. You know. I joined you know, active duty South came way back when it was in Panama in in in the eighties. I went through you know, the the Noriegau episode and and on and and so on and so forth. Then they moved to Miami. Well, I've always kept in touch with SOUTHCA because I understand their mission. UM. And last but not least, you mentioned private industry. One of my very favorite programs that I'm working right now, believe it or not, okay, is UM fishing for tuna. Now you would say, why is the defense contractor of fishing tuna. I'll tell you the same exact UM technology that you need for intelligence in processes, right, and that you need for UM for disaster relief for example. It is the same kind of technology that you need to go catch tuna. Because you know, there's this gentleman, not very good friend of mine as a matter, he has a very large fleet of tuna vessels and he called me. He says, so can you design a solution where instead of me using helicopters on board my eleven vessels, I can use drones. And that was like, well, I don't know, let me let me think about it. So I reached out to the right experts and the answer was yes, of course. So we are about to start a test. This is so exciting to me. We're going to put a technical team on board one of these uh fishing uh tuna fishing vessels, and we're going to launch a drawn about six miles around the vessel and have that drum performed the same mission that the helicopter pilots performed on board these vessels. So the key is to learn all the you know, absorb all the criteria to recognize schools of tuna out there in the open ocean, and then direct the tuna vessel to start shane um. And my customer will benefit because now if he loses a drone, wellifying drones can be replaced and and and drones don't require you know, the human cost that helicopters. Helicopter pilots you know require and so my whole purpose here is to write the right algorithm so that this drone is smart, because that drone is a drone. You know, you you you can find any kind of drone for whatever price, but it's the brains of that drone. So from either an intelligence mission or or or disaster relief operations, we're going to design drones that are going to be able to to fish. Student. That is fascinating, and talk about true systems integration of existing technologies and applying them to unless exactly. Yeah, that's great. I was going to ask you, by the way, you know, while we're on the subject of the pandemic and and going through that, what are...

...your thoughts on the existing supply chain issues that we're facing as a nation today. Oh gosh, you know this again. They basically we have created immense choke points and something has to give. The pandemic didn't necessarily created this, but it accelerated this from the productions out there and the factories mostly sadly in in in China, which I know you have really amazingly analyzed, very accurately, um all the way to the boards and the vessels they basically waiting in long lines in our boards. So that's another choke point. So that has increased prices. And I'm not an economist, I'm just an observer of what happens to the supply chain. So it was really crippled in a way. We need to resolve this issue, and we need to become more and more and more now increasingly more so independent so that we, you know, manufacture our own parts. And I'm not talking you know, plastic chip cups now you can buy in the Walmart. I'm talking about national security requirements, you know, such as technology and and and and knowledge. Basically we need to continue changing that, but at an increased pace. I agree. And you know, one of the things that keeps me up at night is, uh is the fact that the chips used for F thirty five fighter gem planes are made in China. Is sending that amazing? It's like, oh, it boils my blood when I hear that. Yeah, I mean, it's it's mind boggling. And Uh. The other the other thing that really underscored our toxic level of dependence on China is the fact that when we needed medicine and sanitary products during the pandemic. They just basically said no, yes, they can shat that supply off anytime they want to. You know. So we're living in interesting times, and I think that it's up to patriotic Americans that love this nation, that are intelligent to leverage their expertise to help us get this country back on track and to build and manufacturer here in America and create jobs for America's future, our future generations. And I think people like you this this exciting story. By the way, about the tuna solution. I'd love to write an article about it and feature your client, because these are the kind of things that really really pique my my my interests. Right, people need to understand this. You know how a former naval intelligence officer right and defense contractor came up with this solution to help to help mitigate or or address a need in the fishing industry and the maritime industry. I think that's a great story. I think that's a great story. Thank you. You know, it's the American ingenuity. You have to put all the talents together. We did it in the industrial era, right, we figure out how to resolve manufacturing issues and mass manufacturing issues. So now it's the same thing impact with technology with knowledge right absolutely, Now, what's next for what are the future growth strategies for your firm? What what's what's the next big thing aside from finding to not which is I think fascinating. And the project that you have in the Caribbean what what what are your next goals and objectives and what are some of your targets right now? I think, you know, basically RAFA continuing, you know, a steady state of trying to support southcome with solutions and now that the economists are beginning to open again in Latin America, reach out again to my customers, which I'm in the process of doing, mostly Colombia, Peru, uh and Panama. I'm not touching you know, countries such as then as well, not even remotely, not interested in...

...touching them. But for our friendly countries in the region. Yes, Brazil is a big unknown because they're having elections and you know, they all determine which way they're heading. But at least you know the countries I mentioned, Peru, Colombia and Panama. Oh and eventually you know, once the um there's a new president, then I'll reach back to Mexico again, yes, yes, Now the situation in Mexico is very very important and the crucial it's it's a nation that's very near and dear all of our hearts. Yes, I mean that's yeah. So now what I'd like to get into is let's talk about uh secret sauce, right, And I know that you and I both like Chile. Yes, So there must three recommendations that would be considered your secret sauce. Three things that younger generation and your brethren out there looking to do business with government, contracting and maybe even exiting the military. Three recommendations that you've learned that you would recommend for others to follow. Ah. Well, I think first and foremost, Uh, you have to take time to learn the industry. It's not that hard to learn it at all, but just to understand the relationship between our private or our companies, you know, different companies with the United States government. Now, once you do that by working in one of thousands of defense countries companies sorry, um, then I think to me the secret juice is the right partnering Because I don't want to get to philosophical here, but you cannot succeed on your own nobody, can you know? This, you know, I did it on my own. Is like model things. So so you know, when I was part of the Giants, right as I say, which I love that company, My partners were small companies, as we discussed earlier, but the right small companies. Now those small companies, believe it or not, we still partner as often as we can. And I'm talking we started doing that twenty years ago, that's right. So that is my strongest recommendation is make sure you create the right alliances. As a matter of fact, you know, when I was getting closer to retirement um in the Navy, I asked a fourth star what he advised for me to do to prepare prepare myself for the next step, right, and he says very simple. You know it's uh work. You know, create and develop a good rollerdex. You know, those were the times where people use rollerdexes I to take but I still have one of those, by the way, Right, there's an that's really what you have to do. And and really that's where I pointed out, is just create the right relationships, create the right friends creator right, you know, trusting alliances, and that's what's going to carry the day. That's fascinating. So really really learning your trade right, doing your doing your homework, getting gaining situational awareness right, that's everything Number one. Number two, identifying and working with the right partners right. It doesn't have to be a big company. It could be a small but great company to partner with. And developing a solid network or rolling text. Those are the three takeaways from today's conversation with so It's been a pleasure. I gotta tell you, it's been a pleasure. And we hope to have you back on on the program to discuss more of your projects as they unfold and as they develop. I'd like to hear more about the Tuna fish and and I'd like to hear more about the great successes that I know you're going to have in the Ibbian and throughout Latam...

...before ending our podcast, is there how do people get in touch with How can they reach you? And can you provide for our benefits? Uh? The information your contact information? Thank you? You know I'm in LinkedIn. It's the easiest way. And then you can see my my background there. Um you know I can provide my cell number and as well as my email. Um, if I could do this year of course, yes, by all means thank you very simple at me dot com, Amy dot com. That's the easiest way to reach out to me. Okay, great, And your website is serentech y lll C. Yes dot com correct, right, correct, And that goes you know, it goes to my my people who take care of customers initially. But if anybody wants to reach me directly, I'll more than happy to great and so please do yourselves a favor and reach out to LinkedIn and connect with him. Check out his company, Serentech International for the latest and greatest applications for public safety and other defense needs. It's been a pleasure having you on Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce. You're a very very busy man, and I'm finally glad that we had a chance to interview you for this great podcast. Dr Marrero, thank you very much. I am more than happy to come back anytime you invite me. Thank you, folks, until next time. Based in Miami, Florida, Raphael Morrero in Company is a management consultancy founded in two thousand eight by Dr Rafael Marrero. The firm helps other veteran owned, minority women and small businesses break into the federal marketplace and do business with the world's richest and most powerful client, the US Federal Government. To learn more, visit Raphael Marrero dot com. You've been listening to Uncle Sam's Secret Sauce, a Raphael Morrero and Company podcast. Keep connected with us by subscribing to the show in your favorite podcast player and giving us a rating that helps us to keep delivering the latest in business growth strategies and ultimately learn what Uncle Sam's secret ingredients are. Thanks for listening. Until next time.

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