by Conor Griffith Staff Writer @ The State Journal
BRIDGEPORT — For Allegheny Science & Technology CEO Arria Hines, success in the tech business comes down to branching out, being confident without being arrogant and treating employees as family.
Hines said the tech company started in 2009 with herself and a project analyst, with their first government contract being with NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation facility in Fairmont. This was followed up by securing a competitive contract for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. Allegheny Science & Technology has expanded its clientele and workforce since 2009.
“We have over 200 employees; we have employees in 17 different states I believe,” Hines said, adding that about 40 of those workers are in West Virginia. “We launched in West Virginia, and we were focused to support the local federal agencies. Basically, as a company, you start out doing niche things and you acquire more and more capabilities as you grow.”
As the leader of a woman-owned company, Hines said there were many occasions throughout her career when she was the only female during meetings. As for success in the largely male-dominated tech industry, Hines said the secret to success is self confidence, but also treating all others with respect, realizing all workers and new business owners face the same challenges from being hired to acquiring capital.
“I think as a female, you don’t look at yourself any differently, and you want to be judged on your knowledge and experiences and what you bring to the table,” she said. “I’ve always found that if you treat people with respect, they treat you right back. My saying has always been: Walk into the room like you own it, but don’t be arrogant about it.”
Hines said she was raised with the conviction that she can succeed in anything her male counterparts can. She said she encourages women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to go for it and tries to mentor them whenever she can. Furthermore, Hines said she also hopes to dispel the notion that women have to choose between raising a family or running a business. While full of challenges, Hines said it’s possible to do both as she has.
Stephanie Pethtel, an employee of Allegheny Science & Technology, said the work environment Hines promotes is very rewarding with its sense of work hard, play harder.
“She treats people how they want to be treated,” she said, adding that Hines is also very approachable as an employer regardless of the issues or who brings them to her attention. “Nobody in the company feels nervous about emailing her.”
Hines said she and her employees also do their best to give back to the community whether that be through support local sports teams, speaking on college campuses or supporting nonprofit organizations such as Girls on the Run.
Pethtel said Hines also introduced a perk last year where employees get an item around the holiday season. However, they also had the option of donating them to charities.
“It’s a win-win situation because not only does it benefit and impact those in need, but it also helps, on a corporate level, boost morale. And, employees realize we do care and as a company we’ve been successful,” she said. “We want to give back.”
Among its accomplishments, Allegheny Science & Technology was recently named Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year for Region III by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office. Hines herself was named 2017’s Innovator of the Year for the rapid growth and success of her company by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a national nonpartisan organization that educates and advocates on behalf of women-owned businesses. This was one of a series of WIPP annual awards intended to shine a spotlight on female entrepreneurs dedicated to the advancement of women in business.
Looking back, Hines said her company is continuing to grow with a new contract while seeing the current contracts expand. However, she said she’s most proud of the fact that she continues to build a place that employees have faith in, — where they can raise families and put their kids through college.
Staff writer Conor Griffith can be reached by at 304-395-3168 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org