|Kevin Knight, the 2014 SBA Virginia Small Business Person of the Year. - Courtesy/Knight Solutions|
On a walk through Arlington National Cemetery it's a pretty sure bet you'll pass something Knight Solutions has built or renovated.
Across the country the Leesburg-based company is working to build or renovate national cemeteries, with a focus on hiring combat veterans.
"From 2009 to today I must have performed contracts in 17 different national cemeteries," said Kevin Knight, president and CEO of the company, who March 24 was named the Virginia Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Knight Solutions was founded in the teeth of the recession, and just last year, was listed as one of the fastest growing businesses in the United States according to Inc. magazine.
The company now has more than 120 full-time employees at 15 locations.
Annual revenues for 2012 were over $16 million and the company has grown by more than 1,000 percent in the last five years.
Knight has carved out a niche in the national cemetery construction business.
"There is a sense of pride of taking care of our fallen brothers and sisters," said Knight, who was honorably discharged himself after sustaining an injury to his eye in action.
The event cut short his life goal of retiring as a member of the military. Knight came home and decided to go to college.
Growing up in Hampton, Knight knew he wanted to attend college somewhere near home. Norfolk State seemed like a logical choice.
He was a great student and excelled in his classes.
Graduating cum laude from Norfolk State buoyed Knight's confidence and emboldened him to move forward with his education. He received a scholarship to study at Cincinnati where he gained a master's degree.
"School gave me the foundation and solidified my work ethic. My education gave me the tools to get me where I am today," said Knight.
Since he graduated from Cincinnati, Knight has worked for General Motors, Pinnacle and REHAU.
Speaking of REHAU Knight says "It was a small enough company where I could work with the CEO."
He says he realized then that he was learning how to run a business.
Working with high-level executives he began to see the opportunity as training for when he would run a company.
While still working 50 hours a week, Knight decided to start his own business. After researching doing business with the federal government, Knight noticed there was a place in the market for contracting for cemeteries.
"It's more than me. It's my employees who support the business," said Knight.
According to the Knight Solutions website, Knight has served on the board of directors with the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Loudoun, Northern Virginia Community Foundation and Central Loudoun Youth Football Association.
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