Ex-Army Ranger’s New Mission: Enlisting Vets to Build a Company

onyx companies building

Rich Verdone is an Ex-Army Ranger with five tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, but his devotion to duty and his fellow soldiers marches on here at home.

Now president of Onyx Companies, a company that trains and employs military vets in the construction industry, Verdone is on a mission to build a foundation with the skills and dedication he acquired in the military.

Though still in its infancy, the business is on the move, with its first major commercial project completed and several others in its sights.

Verdone notes Onyx is armed with an impressive new construction technology developed by Las Vegas-based GigaCrete Inc., a company that manufactures “green” building materials and products including StuccoMax, PlasterMax, GigaPanel and BallistiCrete. GigaCrete bills its products as “next-generation” materials that “push the envelope” on performance and sustainability.

We’ve all heard those kinds of superlatives before about the latest and greatest widgets or elixirs, but Verdone is a believer. He’s seen the materials firsthand, including the testing of the BallistiCrete product’s resistance to weapons firing that included the 50.50 BMG anti-vehicle/armor rifle.

In Verdone’s view, GigaCrete’s forward-looking technology and his military vet workforce made for a perfect match.

“I saw it as a fantastic combination. The construction industry is hemorrhaging talent and labor. Finding skilled, qualified labor is becoming very challenging,” he says. U.S. military personnel are rigorously trained to be ready for any obstacle, any unforeseen circumstance. It’s an optimal fit, in his way of thinking.

GigaCrete fits Onyx’s objective of using technologically advanced, innovative and sustainable materials. It’s a combination with a huge marketability upside. “Made in the USA, built by USA veterans,” he says. “Clients win, construction industry wins, the manufacturer wins and vets win.”

As a wartime veteran himself, Verdone knows that the transition from uniform to civilian workforce can be difficult. But the construction industry is one of those fields that can make use of and benefit from the skills and mindset of the military vet.

“There’s a lot invested to make these warriors the best they can be, these men and women,” says Verdone. “After more than 15 years of sustained conflict in hostile lands, and being asked to perform the commonplace in the most uncommon situations, they can deal with any kind of challenge or difficulty.”

Verdone says the efforts of companies pledging to hire thousands of military vets are appreciated, but the job of coffee barista or store trainee won’t resonate with some vets. Construction, on the other hand, offers great potential.

Onyx has formulated a training curriculum geared to the vet workforce, tailoring military-style communication techniques to construction teams made up of skilled industry professionals working alongside the vets. It begins, appropriately, with a construction “boot camp.”

The company’s website, www.onyxcompanies.com, is currently in development.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this blog post are those of the author or authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of Concrete Decor magazine.

Got more questions about your project?

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf, Max. file size: 50 MB.
      Allowed formats: jpeg, jpg, gif, png, pdf
    • How would you like us to respond?

    • Note: Some questions will be published anonymously with their answers at the end of this story to share with other readers.