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I/ITSEC is always about meeting friends old and new, determining hat has happened in the intervening period since the last meeting and catching up with successes, innovations and progress. Some booths offer more of one aspect than another, and some friends have changed beyond recognition, even in so short a period. There are, however, some booths on which one can rely – for good news, good conversation and stimulating company.

MetaVR never disappoints in this regard. Co-founder and President W Garth Smith and the 15-person company (yes – that is no misprint) have carved a swath through the training and simulation community now for 22 years, punching above their weight at every turn and ensuring no customer need – or aspiration, in many cases – is left unmet. “I’m fascinated we still prevail – there are considerable forces out there that have an interest in proposing and implementing low quality solutions,” he told MTSC on the first day of I/ITSEC 2018 in Orlando.

He is pragmatic and sanguine about the position his company occupies – but rarely self-satisfied. Recognising that he faces severe competition from a bewildering array of organisations large and small, he is also quietly confident that his solutions are better, his company better positioned to succeed and his customer-centric approach more conducive to continued successful growth. “When they fail,” he says of his competition, “they do so on vastly larger budgets than ours.”

Is it all chutzpah, though? Is Smith’s concentration on wrestling shibboleths to the ground and making them beg all a bit of a macho act? It seems not. “I’ve known this guy for a long time and I have always found him responsive to our needs. Any project needs to be tweaked at some stage: when we ask for help, or for change, we get it – quickly, effectively at no additional charge,” Danny Gallegos at Camber Corporation told MTSC. Further conversation revealed some of the key elements of the relationship that have convinced Gallegos to remain a loyal MetaVR customer through a number of career moves, among them realism, pragmatic problem solving and totally transparent honesty.

As a recipe for success, that is scarcely a new formula. What makes MetaVR worth watching, though, is the way in which that recipe is followed on a daily basis. The company ‘spirit,’ for want of a better word, is not only evident in the other staff busily welcoming visitors to the stand, but also among the partner companies providing demonstrations and explaining applications – this year including Immersive Displays, Rockwell Collins and Battlespace Simulations.

Confidence is a big part of it, too. Confidence comes from repeat business and from longevity in contracting history, in part: MetaVR has been a major contractor to the A-10 Full Mission Simulator programme for 18 years now. But it also comes from a passionate belief in self and the product. “We have profoundly better software. I may not be the most diplomatic person on earth, but when we have an opportunity to compete directly and fairly – we have never lost a competitive flyoff,” he told MTSC.

There is more to come from MetaVR in the coming weeks and months, As a benchmark for the way in which smaller, infinitely more agile and definitely innovative companies are helping to transform our business, Smith’s company is a great model. And one that can very often encapsulate a wealth of meaning in a single pithy phrase. Asked what gets him out of bed every morning to continue the good fight, Smith’s unhesitating response was “defeating inferior software.”

Words to live by.

A rendering of two Belgian F-16s in Virtual Reality Scene Generator (VSRG) in flight over MetaVR’s virtual Kleine-Brogel Air Base in Flanders. (Image: MetaVR)

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