By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Fairmont native Steve Ralston is honored to be the recipient of Lockheed Martin’s highest honor.
Lockheed Martin established the annual NOVA Awards in 1995 to recognize individuals and teams who have supported the mission and goals of the company in stand-out ways. The recipients are considered “the bright stars of the corporation.”
Ralston, business development director for Lockheed Martin, was presented a NOVA Award for his leadership in winning an approximately $500 million Enterprise Standard Architecture contract in December 2012 to support the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service. An awards ceremony took place Friday, Oct. 25, at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Ralston was born and raised in the Friendly City and attended North Marion High School. He always had a strong affinity for computers, enjoying the ability to get things done better and faster with technology, and took a lot of computer classes in high school.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in software engineering from West Virginia University. Ralston said he had to leave the state shortly after graduating in order to find a job, but thankfully was able to come back home because of the presence of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation and the startup of high-tech companies in the area.
For 13 years, he was employed with a small business called D.N. American, where he supported contracts at the Department of Energy, NASA and FBI and was responsible for building business. When D.N. American was sold, he had the chance to work for Lockheed Martin.
Ralston joined the company in August 2006 as a capture manager, helping to lead Lockheed Martin’s efforts to capture new business, and then progressed to business development director. In this position, he directs a team of capture managers who principally pursue work for NASA.
He is based out of an office in Rockville, Md., but his primary home is Fairmont.
Lockheed Martin seeks jobs across a large variety of federal customers, and Ralston previously focused on a different area of business — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
For about three years, Lockheed Martin concentrated on strategy meetings with the customers and understanding the desire and end goal in order to put together a compelling offer for the Enterprise Standard Architecture contract. At the peak of this work to pursue the contract, approximately 50 people from the company were involved, he said.
Ralston said there was strong competition, and Lockheed Martin was very pleased to be selected as the vendor to provide the service. Lockheed Martin offers cloud capabilities, mobility capabilities, and data center consolidations to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Ralston explained these U.S. Department of Justice agencies have many people out in the field chasing criminals and putting their lives on the line to protect the country. Lockheed Martin gives those agents the capabilities to execute their missions safely and provides information so they can make critical decisions. Through these efforts, Lockheed Martin helps the agencies do a better job every day and is also able to provide jobs to local communities.
Because of Ralston’s strong ties to the state, he’s been able to incorporate other West Virginia small businesses in the pursuit of large opportunities. For this job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service, work is done in Washington, D.C., as well as in Martinsburg. A West Virginia small business, Novus Federal, is currently part of the team.
“I was really glad I had the opportunity to continue to help grow businesses and support jobs in West Virginia,” Ralston said.
Lockheed Martin could also provide services to other federal agencies in need of these capabilities. This contract benefits Lockheed Martin and its customers as well as the community, Ralston said.
“It’s a great opportunity for Lockheed to expand our Justice portfolio,” he said.
Ralston attended the recent black-tie NOVA Awards ceremony with his wife Juanita, who is originally from Mannington and also lived in Fairmont. She attended North Marion High School and Fairmont State.
“It was truly a privilege and an honor to go down and be recognized,” Ralston said of the event.
Although Ralston was the leader of the team that pursued the contract and the recipient of the NOVA Award, he said the honor really goes to the entire team that was involved.
“Our NOVA honorees have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to performance, innovation and integrity,” Lockheed Martin chief executive officer and president Marillyn Hewson said during the ceremony. “Our customers are facing incredibly complex challenges, and these talented employees have worked tirelessly to help them rise to those challenges. Our 2013 honorees have set the standard for leadership, technical excellence and performance, and I am proud to work alongside each of them.”
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.