May 25, 2012|
by Rob Pichardo
She’s a business woman, a basketball player, a mother, a green thumb and now Diana Lewis of Action Facilities Management is a West Virginia Young Gun. Beyond the tough job of providing security for the federal government stands a young woman, who, for over five years, has nurtured her business and watched Action Facilities grow into a thriving management company.
Action Facilities Management offers services such as security, facility support and even facility and ground maintenance. “When the company started, my son and I were the only two in the business,” says Lewis. “From that point five years ago, it took us a couple of years to acquire our first federal contract and now we have over 75 employees and a thriving business.”
Her professional fortune is the outcome of hard work and experiences that came through success and even a few mistakes along the way. Lewis’ advice for other young professionals is learning from mistakes and building upon lessons learned. “You must work under someone to get experience and learn from their success and also learn from their mistakes so when you are starting your own company, you aren’t starting fresh with your own mistakes and you can grow to the next level,” says Lewis.
Along with that beautiful smile and cheerful presence comes a Fairmont State University graduate who was raised in Clarksburg and calls herself the “drive-thru queen” when describing her first job at McDonalds. She jokes about her first car being a souped-up 1981 truck. “I love to drive fast and that truck could smoke anything around,” Lewis says, caught up in the excitement of the memory.
That hot rod truck isn’t the only thing about Lewis that’s been known to turn heads. Her work ethic and leadership characteristics, which were instilled in her by her supportive and hard-working father, have really placed Action Facilities Management on the fast track to success. “I try to lead by example and that’s what I live by,” says Lewis. “I don’t ask any of my employees to do a job that I haven’t already performed myself. From stripping wax on floors to sitting at a security desk, I’ve done it all. I even try out the mowers that we use so I can tell my clients that it has a zero turning radius. Whatever it is, I want to show them that I can actually do that.”
Lewis does something else that surprises people. “I carry a weapon and I enjoy shooting guns,” she says. “Since we have armed security guards, we have so many other types of weapons. I enjoy going to the shooting range and firing them.”
On the days when she’s not packing heat or riding on mowers, Lewis uses her green thumb to tend to her plants or enjoys a regular game of competitive basketball. She is also involved with several committees and non-profit organizations, serving as vice president on the board of Teaming to Win, a non-profit organization that supports small businesses teaming with federal agencies and looks for opportunities to grow their business. She is also on the board for the Monongalia Baptist Association as a member of the finance committee.
Lewis credits two companies with supporting Action Facilities over the years and helping them along the path to success. “I attribute a lot of our success thus far to two companies,” says Lewis. “Azimuth, Inc. is a local disabled veteran-owned business, and EG & G is a large business with which AFM has teamed on two contracts. Teaming with a large business enables us to expand our capabilities and meet our customers’ needs. Both of these companies have given us mentorship and support above and beyond any of my expectations.”
Lewis believes that she has achieved what she has today “through the grace of God, through family support and through excellent employees that I could count on to back me up.” She even finds most of her inspiration and motivation through her own employees. “It’s all about being able to provide good paying jobs for West Virginians,” says Lewis. “I went to Harpers Ferry and saw the employees. They were so happy; they come up and thank you for the job opportunity and they love what they do. They are telling me it makes a difference in their lives and what they can bring home to their families. On the other side, I have the customer who is very pleased. I listen to the customer. As long as they are happy, and the employees are happy, it truly motivates me!”
Photography by Rick Lee