Wayne Hunter loves a challenge.
Growing up poor in the backwoods of Louisiana, the co-founder and CEO of AvTek Solutions Inc. didn’t have access to computers. “Everybody I knew was blue-collar workers. They worked on the docks. They were mechanics, electricians, and plumbers. They were ranchers and farmers. The closest we got to technology was a TV and an electronic typewriter,” Wayne said. “When we got a Pong game, I couldn’t care less about playing it. I wanted to know how it worked.”
When he was seven, he watched NASA fly to the moon. Learning they used computers sparked an interest. Soon he began noticing point-of-sale (POS) systems replacing manual ones. “I started seeing different types of technology pop up and I knew I wanted to get into that field,” Wayne said. “I wanted something more challenging than the mechanical jobs I saw.” Without the money to go to college, he headed to the Navy Recruiter’s office. After scoring extremely high on the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, he was given his choice of assignment.
“I chose sonar because it was all about advanced electronics and that’s what I wanted to do,” Wayne said. Volunteering for the demanding submarine service, Wayne went through two years of intensive electricity and electronic training and then was stationed on the USS Dallas SSN 700 Fast Attack Submarine and served four years. Protecting the shores of the U.S. and doing intelligence gathering, the work was highly classified. “Yes, the submarine was the one in the movie Hunt For Red October and I was like Jonesy,” Wayne said. “Being a submariner is demanding from a technical standpoint and also requires trust. The crew trusts your knowledge if something bad happens. It was because of my job in sonar that started my security mindset. What you do and how you protect information; what you can share and who do you share it with… I couldn’t tell my family or anybody what we were doing, and I still don’t talk about it today.”
After getting out of the Navy in the late eighties, Wayne specialized in disaster recovery and data protection. While running a development team (both hardware and software), he built high-end storage technology for black hole, scientific, and oil patch environments. Building relationships outside of this market, he identified a gap in commercial markets. “I was learning about the environments of banks, retailers, and other commercial markets, and I noticed that because of the high-end processing, especially around stuff like credit card databases, the backup systems weren’t designed to backup and restore massive parallel database environments. This meant they had to choose between lots of downtime, which means loss of money and trust, or unsecured data because the back-up systems couldn’t operate fast enough.”
Wayne approached a software developer that he knew could solve this problem. But when the developer turned him down, he left his job and started his own company, Lexicon Information Concepts. “I told the developer I can bring you this type of business, but he didn’t believe it,” Wayne said. “So, I took $9000 from my inheritance, took what vacation time I had, landed two contracts, and never looked back.”
Doing implementation delivery and customization, Wayne built code to manage the single operating systems inside banks and other types of retail companies. In 2002, he sold the company to one of his partner companies, Legato Systems, which specialized in disaster recovery software. A year later, Legato was acquired by EMC and he was made Senior Vice President, a position he left shortly thereafter. “I realized that I don’t like being told there is only one way to solve a problem and only one product that can do it, so I took early retirement,” Wayne said.
Going stir crazy in retirement, he co-founded AvTek Solutions in 2004. “I love the challenge of working with banks,” Wayne said. “They must have data security, compliancy, process, procedure—and if they don’t meet that, it affects what they can do. I love the challenge of delivering what they need so they don’t have to worry about any of those things.”
Co-Managed IT Partnerships Enable Clients To Focus On Core Business
Today AvTek Solutions is a well trusted Managed Service Security Provider (MSSP) and in high demand. Serving regional banks in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas from a single branch with a hundred million in assets up to 40 branches with 8 billion in assets, AvTek grew 33% in 2020. With clients staying with AvTek for over a decade and clients discovering them through AvTek’s membership in the Texas Bankers Association (TBA), AvTek is on track to triple revenue this year. “We do a lot of co-managed IT and tailor our services to help the internal IT team be more successful,” Wayne said. “We take care of the infrastructure so the IT team can focus proactively on the core business applications. This eliminates their distractions because we take care of security and compliance issues.”
Evolution Based On What’s Best For The Client
Wayne’s philosophy is to always do what’s best for his customer. His company has evolved over the years based on the solutions his customers need, so they can focus on what they do best. “My customers often help me figure out what to do next,” Wayne said. “In 2008, they said, ‘You designed our solutions, why can’t we just buy the stuff from you too.’ That’s what they wanted so we became a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) to to provide infrastructure hardware and software technology. And that’s how we got into Managed Services. Customers started asking us if they could pay us a retainer to manage their IT environment for them.”
Blending Existing Technology With New Technology To Deliver Best R.O.I.
Wayne is extremely knowledgeable on old technology as well as emerging technology and knows how best to apply new technology to existing infrastructure. “In the Navy, it was how you took old technology and made it relevant. We used 20-year-old technology we trusted and blended it with this cutting-edge, new age submarine that cost billions of dollars. This carries over into what I do today. When I go into a customer site, I look at what they have, what can I do with it, and how I can give them as much R.O.I. as possible.”
AvTek also advocates for clients. This is consistently acknowledged by clients such as Austin Bank, Guaranteed Bank and Trust, and Texas Bank and Trust. John Orr, CIO Austin Bank said, “AvTek looks at the holistic IT stack and ensures there are no holes. If found they present cost-effective integrated solutions… they are an IT partner who not only has the experience to help you but the integrity to do it the right way.”
Problems Get Fixed Faster And With Less Disruption
Wayne adapts to the ever-changing technical landscape and stays ahead of the curve and ensures he brings the right type of technology to his clients to keep them up to date by serving on boards such as the Cytracom Partner Advisory Council (PAC), which is a leading voice focused on driving the best future of modern communications, The Channel Company XChange Advisory Board, and on the technical advisory board of the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) Group. He’s also been tapped into for his cybersecurity expertise and is co-authoring a new book, Exploited! due out this year.
AvTek’s commitment to being a thought-leader is why they are able to implement solutions fast while saving clients from downtime and other costly issues. When the COVID-19 shutdown forced companies to send their employees home to work remotely, AvTek was able to help a bank client take 140 people remote within two days. “I’m a solutions guy,” Wayne said. “I’m an integrator. I look at the problem and I go solve it. We focus on what’s right for the customer’s business, not what’s right for our business.”
The Biggest Reward
Wayne puts others first, period. “We’re successful because my team’s successful,” Wayne said. “I try to be in tune with what is happening in my employee’s family life and support them in their personal life and what they need from a work standpoint. What’s happening in their family life spills over into their work life and affects their ability to keep their word.”
Wayne’s team has over 30 years of infrastructure experience in building and supporting solutions. They partner with global leaders such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Dell Technology, and VMware. He also hires veterans whenever he can. “If you’ve gone into the military and been honorably discharged it tells me a couple of things,” Wayne said. “It matures you and it gives you a sense of dedication to what you are doing.”
In the community, Wayne is a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics. He also supports his clients’ community service in any way he can. For example, Wayne helped build beds for the children at homeless shelters with Austin Bank employees.
In speaking with Wayne, it’s obvious that AvTek is more than a business, it’s his passion. “I love doing this,” Wayne said. “I love the challenge of solving problems for people. Seeing their success is the reward. I don’t care about winning awards or any of that. What I care about is a customer telling me, ‘Thanks for fixing that problem for me.’ That’s the biggest reward I can ask for and what makes me thrive.”