Brigadier General (Retired) Phil Coker

Garrett Coker, PMP is a proven leader with over sixteen years of training and management experience in Defense operations, and more than two years in combat using the Army’s latest Command and Control systems and processes.   He is an outstanding leader, manager and communicator with a complete understanding of the challenges of modern combat.  His experience in business includes  leading a global network operation center and acting as a Program Manager for a $70M+ Army program. Garrett is also an entrepreneur who has founded his own Defense Consulting company, as well as a Design and Manufacturing company.

Stephen D. Schmidt  (Maj Gen, USAF, Retired)

Steve Below has over twenty-five years of business development experience.  He is a graduate of Clemson University with a degree in Electrical Engineering and holds Master of Science degrees in Electromagnetic Theory and Information Management.  His broad-based strategic planning career has given him hands-on knowledge of conducting client needs assessments, creating a shared sales vision and building strategic alliances. Perhaps more important is his ability to evaluate company/client needs, and then develop a solution that meets those needs.  In addition, he holds Quality Management System certifications in CMMI and ISO.

Jim Heverin


Meryl Kovac has over 35 year’s experience in all aspects of government contracts management.  She is a graduate of the University of Redlands and during her career with various defense industry companies has held positions of great responsibility including Senior Contracts Manager, Division Contracts Manager and Deputy Program Manager.  She has extensive experience with FAR and DFAR requirements, risk management, performance compliance, managing multiple contract types, government negotiation and has routinely directed contracting for individual programs worth more than $700M.  In one two-year period she personally negotiated contracts worth more than $1B.   She has led and developed Contracts personnel throughout her career and is a master in managing difficult customer relationships.

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Garrett Coker

Colonel (Retired) Jim Heverin served with the US Army as an Artillery Officer and product developer for almost 30 years, including service in the US and Europe as well as the Middle East.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and holds a Master of Science from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.  Upon retirement from the Army he was hired to manage and lead hardware production programs for a major defense contractor; culminating in his assignment as CEO of a robotics company.  He has extensive experience leading organizations and turning around failing operations as well as a complete understanding of the DoD acquisition system.  He also brings a strong background in production operations as well as full insight into complex systems integration.  

Steve Below

Steve Schmidt brings over 20 years executive experience in aviation operations, program management and senior leadership in the U.S. Air Force, culminating in command of the NATO AWACS Force and the ballistic missile defense mission in Europe and the Levant. Since retiring from the Air Force in 2014 he has served as an Aerospace Industry Consultant, providing strategy and implementation advice on specific in-depth C4ISR, UAS and missile defense challenges encompassing large-scale program management, strategic planning, business development, capture strategy, logistics transformation and complex systems integration.  Steve earned his BS in Organizational Behavior from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and holds MS Degrees in National Security Studies and Public Administration.  He is a graduate of executive management programs at Harvard and Syracuse and Porsche lean management executive training in Stuttgart, Germany.

Brigadier General (Retired) Phil Coker served with the US Army in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East as a Cavalry Officer and Analyst for 32 years.  After retirement, he joined the defense industry as a Director, ultimately managing four production facilities in the US and UK, building robots and command and control systems for the Department of Defense and Law Enforcement customers.  He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, holds a Master’s Degree in Systems Management from USC and is currently pursuing another Master’s from the University of Texas in Dallas.  He was one of the founding members of the Heartspur Group, and serves as the VP of Operations.  He has extensive experience in government pursuits, new product development, leadership training, holds a certificate in executive and leadership coaching, and has been giving keynote addresses for over 20 years

Meryl Kovac