Every time Robert Justin (“Justin”) Wolfe tells this story, he gets laughs.
He was in the fourth year of his service as a shift leader for an advanced diplomatic security team in Baghdad after eight years as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. While exercising on a soccer field, he tripped in a hole on the pitch. He sustained severe damage to his ankle, which required reconstructive surgery and extended recovery. Ultimately, the fateful misstep ended his 13-year military career.
“It wasn’t a bomb or bullets that took me out of service,” Justin jokes. “It could’ve been worse, but it’s a funny story people always giggle about.”
However, the year and a half of recovery—and the subsequent reimagining of his career that came after—was nothing to joke about. Through the journey, though, PWR Technologies was born, serving small and midsized businesses and government agencies in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area.
Transition To Civilian Life
While resting and healing from his injury back home in Texas, Justin was excited to spend more time with his four children. It would have been a nice transition before joining the Texas State Trooper Academy, which was his plan. With more than a decade of military experience and a passion for serving, he couldn’t wait to work in law enforcement. “Back then, all my eggs were in that basket,” he says. “I didn’t have another plan.”
But the State Trooper Academy has stringent restrictions on unemployment, and Justin’s career lapse during his recovery prevented his acceptance. They suggested he reapply down the road after he could meet the employment requirements and pass the physical fitness test. He recalls, “I was absolutely struck down. I gave 13 years of my life to the government—all of my blood, sweat, and tears. I gave up time with my family.” At the time, he felt let down by the country he served. “I had no idea what I was going to do.”
Justin had spent nearly half his life overseas in the military and his sense of duty and honor hadn’t vanished during his yearlong recovery. He had a lot to offer, but what would he do now that his Plan A—graduating from the Texas State Trooper Academy and working the governor’s security detail—wouldn’t happen? He wondered who would hire him if all he knew how to do was shoot guns. What kind of civilian career offered a similar sense of purpose to defend and protect?
From Plan A To A Fallback Plan
No doubt it was a setback, but Justin’s military training had taught him you never go into the field with only Plan A—you need a fallback. He set his mind on finding a career that aligned with his skills. Not his abilities in weapons or combat but rather his experience in leadership, paying close attention to surroundings and remaining calm in extremely high-pressure situations.
“Folks from my background are always looking for that sort of adrenaline rush when you’ve been in Spec Ops or something like that. Those guys wrestle alligators and jump out of planes,” he says. While he didn’t have the desire to jump from a plane, he did have the drive to bring a sense of clarity and focus into intense situations. He asked himself: “If everything in the world went sideways, who would always be there? What jobs would need to be there?”
The answer was right in front of him—security and protection. But he planned to come at it from an entirely new angle: technology.
“No matter what happens, there’s always a need for a technology engineer,” Justin says, “no matter how many robots you have. There’s a very high level of importance in IT, but nobody thinks about how important their CIO is until something goes wrong.”
Justin went back to school. Soon after, he was hired as IT director for a personal injury group with 10 locations and more than 300 employees. He was one of two IT engineers for the company. “When you’re only two people doing medical, chiropractic, and dental IT, you learn a lot,” he explains. Justin excelled in the position. He attributes this to his military experience in bringing organization to chaotic situations. That’s something he says the IT industry has in no short supply. “I kind of fell in love with the stress and pressure of getting projects, tasks, or issues figured out,” he says. “The IT world is chaotic, but there is some sort of organization.”
After four years in healthcare IT, his confidence grew. He had rediscovered his purpose and passion for security and protection. Now he was ready to bring it to even more businesses across Dallas-Fort Worth. “A lot is on the line in the IT industry if something goes wrong or right,” he says. “There’s more weight on my shoulders to make sure everything goes right. I like the responsibility. It really drives me.”
Bringing Organization To Business Chaos
In 2017, Justin and two other business partners co-founded PWR Technologies. It’s a complete technology solutions provider that brings organized and reliable IT services to their clients amid any crisis or nightmare IT problem.
Having a calm and collected head on your shoulders is crucial when a healthcare facility goes offline because of a ransomware attack, a business migrates its operations to the cloud, or a company needs help meeting budget-friendly compliance regulations. A lot is on the line for businesses when anything goes wrong during those situations. This includes their reputation or ability to serve customers or patients effectively. Justin enjoys being a force of calm and collectedness for companies during challenging times. Navigating IT and cybersecurity issues is part of his everyday work.
However, PWR Technologies also takes on projects most other IT companies won’t—designing and constructing network cabling installations.
“It’s something a lot of companies avoid, because it’s complicated and there’s a risk,” he explains. If an IT provider doesn’t understand the needs of a company or the necessary materials, they may run the wrong cable and set off a ripple effect of negative consequences for the company, like significantly limiting bandwidth.
Justin enjoys being the calm and collected go-to IT professional for his clients. You’ll still find him in the IT “trenches” with his team. “When I’m doing these fiber or cable projects, I like to be there because I like doing the work, and if I’m going to ask someone to do something, I should know how to do it myself,” he says. It also keeps him connected to his purpose. “When owners or CEOs of companies see me working,” he says, “they’ll come up and ask me a question, and I can answer them. That’s so important to their business.”
His work, he says, brings him a sense of purpose and importance similar to that of his military career—and much more.
Supporting Military Vets And Community
Permanently stateside, Justin gets to spend a lot more time with his four children who love hearing stories about his military days (though he says his wife is probably tired of hearing the same stories over and over again). His career also offers him the unique opportunity to help other veterans transition to civilian life after the military. “I try to hire veterans because PTSD is a real thing. When you’re in the IT world, every day is different, so it keeps your attention. You’re steadily researching and figuring out a problem instead of twiddling your thumbs,” he explains. Today, all but one PWR employee is a military veteran.
As CEO of PWR Technologies, Justin brings a positive impact to his community, supports his veteran brothers and sisters, and, above all, has reclaimed his purpose. “As a soldier in the military, you have a sense that you mean something, a sense of importance,” he explains. “In the IT industry, a lot is on the line. A lot depends on you. I love that responsibility, and I love to see my clients’ faces when we figure everything out for them.”
Though Justin’s transition to civilian life was more difficult than he had anticipated, he says he’s glad it worked out the way it did. “It was really irritating if you were in my shoes at the time. But when I look back,” he says, “it’s probably the best thing that has happened to me.”
For more information about PWR Technologies, visit here.