Kim Lewis takes helm of chamber board
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA BERRY
As an aspiring entrepreneur and then a successful business owner, Kim Lewis has always kept a challenging schedule. Now her agenda is even busier after accepting the role of Board Chair of Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Lewis is CEO of PROJECTXYZ. After PROJECTXYZ joined the chamber in 2007, Lewis has volunteered or served on various committees since 2010.
“I love this community and am honored to serve in this position to represent the business community,” Lewis said. “I have seen the growth of the community and wanted to contribute more of my time to help with this growth. “To be that face, to be the one out representing the community is an honor because we all love the community so much that we want to be a part of the growth and have some intricate part of making sure we continue to see it grow,” Lewis added. As the first African-American female board chair, I want to also make sure that I set a great example for other women-owned business, other small businesses and younger girls.”
As chair, Lewis will concentrate on certain concerns for the chamber. She said she plans to focus on workforce development, support the area’s current businesses, provide training/resources to small business to sustain that sector’s growth and continue to diversify the workforce.
“That’s not just the high-end workforce – it’s all areas,” she explained. “I get calls from people in the food service and hospitality industry who say they’re having a hard time because people who normally take those jobs are finding other opportunities, so you’re not finding some of the lower tier jobs.”
Local leaders have excelled in diversifying the economy to the point that unemployment is “at its lowest right now that it has been in years,” she said. “It’s creating a little task on our current workforce. It’s a good problem to have.”
The chamber and the community benefit from collaborative relationships among the City of Huntsville, Madison County and City of Madison, she said. “All the economic development projects the chamber works on require certain approvals and agreements, so having a great relationship with them makes this process so much easier.”
Starting her career, Lewis founded PROJECTXYZ in 2002, working nights and weekends as a consultant. “I provided healthcare IT services to several hospitals across the country while I continued to work my full-time job,” Lewis said. “At that time, I was a single mother looking for a way to make some extra income. The consulting work allowed me the flexibility that I needed.”
Lewis was the only employee, working from her home. “As the work increased in later years, I added a few more employees. In 2007 we received our first government contract. That started our growth in that area,” she said.
PROJECTXYZ provides customer support in engineering, logistics, information technology and alternative energy. Its primary customer is the U.S. Army.
“Since its inception, PROJECTXYZ has grown to include employees spanning multiple U.S. locations. The company has become a forerunner in the industry,” she said. “At PROJECTXYZ, we believe our biggest differentiators are our people, our willingness to partner with our customers and our philosophy of putting profit back into the company. All of these aspects allow us to invest in the success of our employees, our customers and our business.”
While PROJECTXYZ focuses on government contracting, Lewis’ company has diversified its business into other areas. “Just try it,” Lewis said. “You don’t have to stay in a box. You might start off as something else, but you can migrate to something different.
PROJECTXYZ steadily has garnered the attention of notable sources. It was rcognized four years in a row – 2014-2017 – in Inc. 5000 magazine, which lists the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., based on the percentage of revenue growth rate. It earned the Small Business of the Year award in 2015 from the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce and was selected as Women-Owned Business of the Year in 2017 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, following its recognition with the U.S. Chamber Blue Ribbon in 2016.
Along with the chamber, Lewis serves on boards for Calhoun Community College Foundation, Cummings Research Park, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Health Establishments at Local Schools, Huntsville Botanical Garden and National Children’s Advocacy Center.
Lewis earned an associate’s degree in computer information systems at Calhoun Community College. During her career, Flo Stallworth and Bobby Bradley have been her mentors.
Lewis is the youngest of 10 children in her family. Her husband, Larry Lewis Jr., serves as president of PROJECTXYZ, having joined the company in 2007.
This combination of experiences for Kim and Larry working in the private and public sectors “brings a unique perspective and wide arsenal of skills and techniques to approaching problems and delivering results for federal and commercial consumers,” Lewis told the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America.
The couple has two daughters: Sandi Dewberry, 25, who lives in Nashville, and Lela Lewis, 9, a fourth-grader at Providence Elementary School.