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Mentors, Maxims Helped Allen Maxwell Reach Potential

DEFENSE: Navy Career Led to Contracting Role

LA MESA – The road has not been easy for Allen Maxwell, in business or in life.

Give credit to an analytical and philosophical mind for letting him see how the road was spreading out before him, and for making changes when needed.

Once an inner-city kid, Maxwell was able to look at his circumstances, think things through, and advance: out of a tough childhood into a U.S. Navy career, then into a federal civil servant position, and finally to membership in San Diego’s defense contracting community.

Allen Maxwell
President & CEO
Omni2Max

Maxwell is president and CEO of Omni2Max, with its main office near Interstate 8 in La Mesa. The firm’s specialties include cybersecurity, program management, systems engineering, logistics and information technology.

On occasion, Omni2Max has received contracts big enough to be announced by the Pentagon. In 2021, the Military Sealift Command of Norfolk, Virginia awarded Maxwell’s firm an $8.7 million deal for the long-term charter of a U.S.-flagged offshore supply vessel, MV Ocean Valor, that was to provide support for logistics experimentation focused on fuel, stores, passengers and ordnance delivery processes aboard small commercial platforms.

As a Black veteran and entrepreneur, Maxwell is eligible for set-aside contracts steered toward minority-owned companies, service-disabled veteran owned companies and firms with similar leadership. That can be a good tool for getting business, but it is no free ride, Maxwell said in a 2021 interview.

Outside of work, Maxwell is a 32nd Degree Twice Past Master Mason and a deacon at his church.

Rules to Live By

Maxwell has documented his journey through business and life in a memoir, “The System Is Unforgiving: Play by the Rules and Win” (A Story Inside Books, 2019).

Unforgiving systems might include tight-knit communities of any sort where you are the outsider. Maxwell recalled some rude lessons as a “Yankee” introduced to life in the rural South. His family moved from North Philadelphia to Georgia when he was an adolescent.

Rules are how you strive to get better. Maxwell opens his book with 15 rules to live by.

Rule No. 1 is “Seek, identify and appreciate your mentors. They have been put in your life to push you to greatness.”

Maxwell can’t say enough about his mentors, such as a senior enlisted sailor who took an interest in him and gave him some tough love when he needed it. (Family members who steered him away from the traps of inner-city life also contributed greatly).

Mentors were especially valuable in helping him “course correct to the right environment that could bring me to ultimate success,” he wrote.

When it was time to get out of the service, mentors showed him how business worked. Thanks to a retired Navy captain named Clyde, Maxwell learned about writing proposals, teaming up with other companies, pricing and other intricacies of defense contracting.

Rules Nos. 2 and 3 have a quasi-military feel. “Stay focused on the objective and continuously reevaluate your game plan.”

“Constantly survey the environment to ensure every day you see where you are at.”

Rule No. 11 is “Don’t take anything personally. This is a waste of your time.”

Rule No. 14 is “Always have rainy-day money.”

Organizational Culture

Maxwell’s book is by turns funny, frustrating and poignant.
It is in part a study of organizational culture and leadership. He contrasts organizations where people have to be accountable (such as a military unit) and organizations where people can be unaccountable (such as a big government bureaucracy). Maxwell, who hates laziness, prefers the accountability of the military – though the military is not perfect.

The book offers a not-always flattering view inside U.S. Navy life. For example, at the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (where Maxwell was in charge of ordnance) Maxwell encountered a group of people running a side business painting cars, using military assets. And that wasn’t the worst of it. As time went on, people on the base conspired to get Maxwell thrown out of his job.

Maxwell was able to leave Guantanamo and start fresh in a new assignment in San Diego. “Gitmo was the toughest duty assignment I ever endured,” he wrote. “Because of keeping the faith and believing in the system, I survived unscathed.”

A lifetime put Maxwell face to face with difficult political situations.

“Many times, I was faced with the choice to fight, give up, or be strategic,” he wrote. “As time went on, I chose strategic. No matter what place you are in right now, even if it feels like a crazy environment you can’t change, you can be strategic.”

Omni2Max
FOUNDED: 2007
CEO: Allen Maxwell
HEADQUARTERS: La Mesa
BUSINESS: Professional technical services
WEBSITE: www.omni2max.com
NOTABLE: Omni2Max’s team has over 70 years of military Command and Control systems operations, logistics, DOD acquisition, and contracting experience.

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