Why Fairfax County is the ‘perfect’ HQ location for Chenega MIOS: interview with President John Campagna

Operating out of its headquarters in the Lorton area of southern Fairfax County, Chenega Corporation’s Military, Intelligence, and Operations Support (MIOS) Strategic Business Unit (SBU) provides standard business services and contracts management for 20 Chenega subsidiaries across the U.S. and abroad.

Parent company Chenega Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation, focuses prominently in the diverse government services contracting marketplace supporting defense, intelligence, and federal civilian customers. As a government and commercial contracted staffing organization, the company operates across the U.S., in U.S. territories, and several countries.

John Campagna, president, Military, Intelligence, & Operations Support SBU, spoke to the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority about Chenega MIOS, including what the company does, its expansion and hiring plans, and why Fairfax County is the best place for its base of operations.

FCEDA: Please describe your role at the company and describe what your company does.

Campagna: As the president of MIOS, I oversee the strategic direction of each of the 20 subsidiary companies that fall under our umbrella. Those companies are distributed in Lorton, Chantilly and Dumfries in Virginia. And then we also have facilities in Texas, Colorado and a couple of international sites. What we do as a strategic business unit is at the headquarters level, we provide operational business support to the subsidiary companies. It allows them to focus on their customers’ missions without the interruptions of day-to-day business operations. MIOS companies’ services range from information technology, facilities maintenance, staff augmentation, intelligence operations and support, to software engineering, integration, and so forth. And we provide these services to DoD intelligence agencies and some of the federal civilian agencies, as well in the federal government.

FCEDA: Chenega is an Alaska based-company. Tell us how the company invests in projects that enable economic infrastructure development in the village there.

Campagna: As an Alaska Native Corporation, Chenega is wholly owned by the shareholders, and shareholders have to be native Alaskans. The vast majority of the corporate profits get reinvested back into the corporation for a number of roles. One is to provide infrastructure, others are to provide educational endowment, community preservation, employment, and economic development for the shareholders. The village of Chenega is located in the Prince William Sound. So, it’s remote, oftentimes lacking basic running water and things of that nature. The work that we do for the corporation enables the village and their shareholders to survive and flourish.

FCEDA: What is the main business focus of your Fairfax County office?

Campagna:  The main business focus of Chenega MIOS in Fairfax County is to provide business support to the 20 operating companies which are about 2,000 employees strong. The services at the headquarters include human resources, recruiting, business development, marketing, finance, contracting–those kinds of day-to-day business support. Most of the companies have offices in Fairfax County with a couple of them in Texas, Colorado, and a couple of others. Our entire focus in Fairfax County, however, is to serve as the headquarters for the strategic business unit.

FCEDA: When and why did you open your Fairfax County office?

Campagna: We started up the Fairfax County office in 2005. We felt that Fairfax County had the most to offer by way of community quality of life. And we just felt that it was more central to the needs of our customer base.

FCEDA: What makes Fairfax County a great location for your company?

Campagna: Fairfax County is the perfect location for Chenega MIOS for a number of reasons. Proximity to the nation’s capital and the Pentagon are two of the biggest factors, being that it is really where the core of our business and our customer base is. Our location in Lorton is right off of I-95, accessible enough to go north into Washington, D.C., if we need to, but also to access Quantico, Fort Belvoir and some of the other military outlying military facilities in the DMV.

FCEDA: What’s innovative about your company and what new or innovative products or services are you offering?

Campagna: Some would say that the structure of our strategic business unit in itself is innovative by removing day-to-day administrative operations from the workload of our operating companies. That allows the companies to focus entirely on the support that they provide our customers. Companies supported by MIOS offer a number of innovative solutions to our government customers, mostly in the areas of software development and systems integration.

We support a number of the agencies in a concept called “Modernization as a Service.” The Air Force is probably our largest customer in that sector. It’s a turnkey solution that provides holistic services encompassing modernization of military and operations once those agencies or those services deploy. It’s an interesting way to kind of testing concepts out in a way that doesn’t necessarily put people at risk. And at the same time, it gives you data to make a determination as to whether or not a concept is workable.

FCEDA: Who are your primary customers and what sets you apart from your competitors?

Campagna: Our primary customer at the top level is the federal government. Specifically, the Department of Defense and some of the agencies within the intelligence community. What really sets us apart is that we’re very agile, very responsive. We are extremely cost-effective as an Alaska Native Corporation. We also have attributes that some companies may not have. The government enables the Small Business Administration to facilitate business for small, disadvantaged business communities. Alaska Native Corporations fall within that demographic.

FCEDA: Do you have any expansion plans planned, and if so, how many jobs do you expect it to generate?

Campagna: Expansion is a constant objective for any business, obviously, when it comes to business, to defining business success. We started in 2005 with about 60 employees. At the end of 2020, we were at about 2,000 employees. And our goal is to continue to grow at approximately eight to 10 percent annually. Our plans are to continue to add companies.

We will always be headquartered in Fairfax County. At the facility that we occupy right now, in fact, we just added another 40,000 square feet to it going into next year, anticipating a significant level of growth with some of our operating companies. So that’s a constant continuum of far reaching goals to make sure that as we grow, we also have the facilities to accommodate. Fairfax County is very business friendly in that regard.