An Oklahoma software developer has built a database with the purpose of bridging lines of communication between small machine companies and larger entities, such as the Department of Defense and the White House.
Michael Morford became familiar with the Stephens County area when he attended basic training for the US Army.
“I remember thinking how nice it would be to start a business in the Duncan area,” Morford said. “Its history is so unique, with such a huge manufacturer, Halliburton, having been founded there.”
After serving in Iraq, Morford returned to Oklahoma and worked as an investment banker with an emphasis in the oil and gas field. This experience led to further interest in the manufacturing industry.
In 2016, Morford founded VirtiPrime, a traditional manufacturing shop based in Duncan. After a few years of producing general machine parts, Morford attempted to transition into producing replacement parts for the US Air Force.
“With my military background, I figured it wouldn’t be that challenging to get contracts to produce these aircraft replacement parts, but that could not be father from the truth,” Morford explained. “The nature of how the Department of Defense interacts with the defense industrial base and the manufacturing community is so convoluted.”
Morford then spoke with other local manufacturers about the lack of clear communication in the industry.
“I spent a lot of time talking with Brad Mowdy, with Mowdy Machines, trying to figure out why I couldn’t get these contracts,” Morford said. “That led to a bit of an ‘aha!’ moment for me, when I realized I could develop some type of software architecture that could really change how the defense industrial base and how manufacturing in the US is practiced.”
After discussing his idea with contacts in the Air Force and others in the manufacturing space, Morford’s proposal for a supply chain database eventually caught the attention of a financial backer. This support allowed Morford to branch off from VirtiPrime and start what is now Sustainment Technologies.
“Sustainment Tech was formed right before COVID hit in 2020, and that is when we began working with Tinker Air Force Base as well as Wright Patterson Air Force Base up in Ohio,” said Morford. “It is ironic that we started this with the purpose of combatting issues in the supply chain right around the beginning of COVID, because after the pandemic began, this topic that something only logistics professionals cared about suddenly became a popular topic of conversation.”
The software itself, as Morford explained, utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI), to act as a bridge between every participant in the parts supply chain, no matter the size of the business.
“The AI we developed has given us the ability to generally change the way a part is made. The database can tell you how the part is made, where it’s made, how it’s made and who can make it, almost instantly.” Morford said.
Bryan Mowdy, owner of Mowdy Machines in Duncan, said that after working alongside Morford in the stages of Sustainment developmental Tech, he is confident that the technology will benefit his manufacturing business.
“I can already see the benefits of the networking aspects of Sustainment’s software,” Mowdy said. “Manufacturers can actually connect with the Air Force to show our capabilities, what kinds of machines we have and what kinds of parts we are good at building. The networking aspects are already starting to pay off.”
The technology company summit gained attention from the White House and Department of Defense during the planning stages for recent quality summits, according to Morford.
“The White House has started to really appreciate the criticality of the defense industrial base and the fragility of that and how much we need to improve our own domestic manufacturing. When this understanding started to come together at the federal level, there was a concerted effort between the White House and the Department of Defense to create summits around the US,” said Morford. “They turned to the Secure America Institute to find potential speakers, who immediately came to us and said this was a chance to really start a conversation about these things and showcase some potential solutions.”
Morford represented Sustainment Tech at one of these summits in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area in June. Morford spoke on a panel focused on the topic of small business manufacturing.
“Each person on the panel represents a piece of the puzzle of what it’s like to for the US defense industry to engage with US manufacturing small businesses,” said Morford. “I was on that stage to help people understand that we are creating technologies to solve a lot of the problems that prevent those things from happening.”
Morford said that while his original manufacturing business, VirtiPrime, continues to grow in the Duncan area and will eventually expand beyond Duncan, Sustainment Tech’s presence in Duncan will also expand beyond a headquarters office.
“Our goal all along is to have Duncan be a location not just for our back office, but also hopefully over time we can create a space in which there are some of our technology development teams with presences in Duncan,” said Morford. “We hope to eventually bring more jobs to the community.”
For more information about Sustainment Tech and their business technologies, visit https://sustainment.tech.