THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE NEWS-ENTERPRISE BY BECCA OWSLEY. THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Retired Maj. Alejandro Ramirez focuses on veterans in his post-Army career.
Born in Columbia, Ramirez came to the United States when he was 8. He joined the U.S. Army in 1991 right out of high school.
He served as a cavalry scout and moved from the rank of private to staff sergeant before becoming an officer. He retired as a major in 2013 after spending 22 years in the military.
In 2005, he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an armor officer before transitioning to an infantry unit into a cavalry assisted unit for development of democracy in Iraq. He did this by conducting engagements with mayors, council members, sheiks, police officers and Iraqi Army leaders. He also developed, coordinated and executed the first Iraqi Scout Leaders Course.
“I am honored to have served in the military and fought for this country,” Ramirez said. “In my military career, I have gained so many qualities like discipline, leadership, teamwork, time management, organization and determination.”
Ramirez is the founder of the Kentucky Veterans Business Alliance, which he said strives to bring unity of effort to veteran-owned businesses, transitioning veterans, the community and state.
When he reached his own business goals, he wanted to empower other veterans to do the same.
“My aspiration was to develop an information operation plan to attract more veterans that are transitioning from the military to join the alliance which has grown to 300 plus members,” Ramirez said. “Since 2018, the Kentucky Veteran Business Alliance has developed over 300 transition veterans and supporting community supporters who now are accelerating their enterprise growth in Kentucky.”
Through the business alliance, he said he can reach out to 34,000 veterans throughout the state.
“The greatest feeling of creating the KVBA is when a veteran comes back to me and tells me their success stories and how the KVBA empowered them or their business,” Ramirez said.
With a veteran-owned business, he said, you have to work harder because you are used to the structure of the military.
Patricia Krausman of the Kentucky Small Business Development Center met Ramirez in 2013 when he attended a Boots to Business workshop at Fort Knox to learn more about entrepreneurial success.
“It was apparent right away that he was intelligent, resourceful and passionate about opportunities for veteran-owned small business,” she said. “Alex is one of the most tenacious and dedicated entrepreneurs I have seen.”
Krausman said Ramirez insists on improvement and education to grow his company.
“He not only works tirelessly in his own business, he also is dedicated to the support and betterment of Kentucky veteran businesses,” she said. “His mission is to share his gained knowledge and success with veterans who are just beginning their journeys, as well as existing veteran-owned business in Kentucky.”
Ramirez owns Universal Spartan LLC, a defense contractor that sources the federal government with tactical, IT, medical and electrical equipment and supplies. He credits his combat experience, past performance, industry knowledge and network of suppliers to help him grow his business into a successful defense contractor. The company has grown to more than 600 government contracts.
“When I got out of the military, I wanted to create a business that I could have the flexibility to be with my family and be my own boss,” Ramirez said. “I also desired to create a lineage for my kids that, if they chose, they could continue with our business.”
Lisa Boone, director of the Central Region Innovation Center, said Ramirez is a pleasure to work with.
“At the Innovation Center, we are all about promoting entrepreneurship and Alex is a shining example of a successful entrepreneur,” she said.
Ramirez also works as a mentor to help with other entrepreneurs, Boone said, especially veterans in business.
“He is an expert when it comes to government contracting and he is always happy to share his knowledge,” Boone said.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, Ramirez’s company sold personal protective equipment to the federal government so the transition to supplying personal protective equipment during the pandemic was simple.
“But most importantly I was able to help the state of Kentucky, the other 49 states, and the federal and state government with providing the PPE that they needed to fight COVID-19,” Ramirez said.
He supports community and charitable groups, specifically youth sports and veteran services.
Ramirez was awarded many ribbons, awards and recognitions while in the Army including the United Nations Medal, Gold German Proficiency Badge, the Order of Saint George, Draper Armor Leadership Award and Squadron Drill Sergeant of the Year in 1997.
He was recognized as an honorary Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Matt Bevin and has received numerous awards in the community and state. His honors as an entrepreneur include the 2018 Small Business Administration Kentucky Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year award, an ECTC Hall of Distinguished Alumni inductee and the NaVOBA’s 2020 Hispanic Veterans’ Business Enterprise of the Year Award.
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or firstname.lastname@example.org