Roxbury firm innovates security industry
Minority-owned business solves federal security needs
The open floor plan and exposed-brick layout of the Windwalker Group offices in Roxbury seem to invite creativity and innovation into the room. A virtual reality system is set up in the corner of the conference room, part of one of Windwalker’s next steps as they expand their training capabilities.
Herby Duverne, the owner, CEO and principal of the Windwalker Group, founded the company with two other partners after working at Massport, where he served as deputy director of security in charge of Logan Airport. Capitalizing on his security background, Duverne founded Windwalker as a security consulting company, and then expanded to cybersecurity, professional services, training and instructional design. Now his firm focuses on online learning, research and evaluation.
Under the physical security category, Windwalker offers support, such as risk assessments, and protections, such as armed guard services. Cybersecurity services include defense of intellectual property and other infrastructures, as well as proactive management of cyber-risk. Professional services entails helping organizations figure out problems, Duverne says.
Windwalker is expanding its training and instructional design component by moving into virtual reality systems, which can be used to develop immersive training programs. The company has already done innovative and award-winning training work, including their work with the U.S. Army’s substance abuse program, Duverne says. The training services are bolstered by the online learning component, where the company creates learning programs, such as the new virtual reality training system. Lastly, the company focuses on research and evaluation services, specifically performance measurement and evaluation and survey management and design.
When asked what ties all of the aspects of his business together, the entrepreneur says, “We’re here to help our clients to get ready.” Duverne was able to expand Windwalker into what it is today by learning what companies need to be most effective and successful, as well as watching and meeting market demands, he says.
Windwalker has expanded to seven different states since its founding in 2012. But Duverne says it wasn’t easy to expand the business in Massachusetts.
“I had to branch into the federal sector, and I started looking at the federal government and looking at opportunities outside [Massachusetts], so I went to D.C., other states, going around the country just to see where else I could find opportunities and deals,” he says.
“From that point forward, we grew from a practically one-person company to 184 people right now,” says Duverne.
Windwalker’s clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, specifically the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Naval Sea Systems Command, as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation, NASA, the U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak, and the Department of Homeland Security. The defense and transportation companies are Windwalker’s two main client types, and the company has contracts on both the national and state levels.
The Windwalker office was originally downtown, and moved to Roxbury a little over three years ago. When asked why he chose to relocate to Roxbury, Duverne says he had many reasons.
“It’s important for me as a minority person,” he says. “ If I don’t come here I can’t expect someone who’s not a minority to move here, so I need to set the precedent — like, it’s okay to have your business in the community.”
He also says that being in Roxbury enables him to support the local economy.
Windwalker is a certified minority business in Massachusetts and other states.
“I chose to certify because I’m a minority-owned firm. Why not certify, right?” says Duverne. “Sometimes there are opportunities in the state and outside of the state that require some level of certification, so I like to do that.”
He adds, “it’s not a bad thing to let people know who you are. We’re a minority firm, so we’re very proud of being a minority firm.”