CEO and Board Member of Torch Technologies, Inc. / President of Starfish Holdings, Inc.
John Watson served as the President of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) since 2013, and was appointed to President and CEO in 2018. Watson was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Torch in 2014. Prior to being Torch President, Watson served as Torch’s Vice President of Business Development and Program Manager for the Scalable Simulation Program with the USA AMRDEC. Watson has nearly 40 years of experience in the defense industry spanning numerous roles in project engineering support, line and program management, and corporate management. Prior to joining Torch, Watson served as the Director for New Product Development for Dynetics, Inc. where he led corporate business development efforts in hardware development, Air Force and technology programs. Prior to his role in Business Development, Watson led their Florida Division. Previous to that, Watson was Vice President of the Florida Division for Nichols Research Corporation. Watson received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University where he was named Outstanding Graduate from the School of Engineering and a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida. Watson currently serves on the board for the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and the Employee-Owned S Corporations of America (ESCA) Association. He has previously served as a board member of the Alabama Business Council where he was selected for the Still Ambassadorial Award for membership outreach. He also served as co-chair for the Alabama Department of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee on Mathematics in 2017. Mr. Watson is a graduate of the Huntsville Leadership L-31 Flagship Program. This past year, Torch proudly announced that we were Certified Evergreen™. A timely achievement for Torch employee-owners as they will celebrate Torch’s 20th anniversary this October, becoming Certified Evergreen™ signifies that while Torch employee-owners can look back on Torch’s past with pride, Torch is also looking forward. Becoming Certified Evergreen™ means that Torch has committed to finding ways to make 100 percent employee ownership sustainable so that Torch will remain a private company forever.
President and Board Member of Torch Technologies, Inc.
Brad Walker has been a long-term employee-owner who was named President in January of 2023. He has over 35 years of experience providing services support and solutions development for DoD programs. Mr. Walker has expertise in Ballistic Missile Defense programs, the development of advanced instrumentation for warhead testing, and the development of advanced algorithms for sensor and command and control applications. He recently served as the Vice President of the Advanced Concept Engineering (ACE) Group at Torch Technologies which included four Business Units spanning Combat Systems, Strategic Systems, Space & Joint Operations, and Technology Development. Mr. Walker led efforts in support of a diverse set of customers which provides a wide range of engineering, scientific, and logistics support throughout the DoD lifecycle in areas such as systems engineering, test and evaluation, requirements, analysis, software, electrical and mechanical system design, metrology, optical sensor instrumentation, virtual trainers, Joint operations, and obsolescence.
Prior to joining Torch Technologies, Mr. Walker held leadership positions at Computer Sciences Corporation and Nichols Research Corporation. Mr. Walker has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Master’s of Science in Management from the Florida Institute of Technology.
Co-Founder of Torch Technologies, Inc., Founder and CEO of Starfish Holdings, Inc., and
Founder of Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC
Bill Roark is the co-founder of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch), the co-founder and CEO of Starfish Holdings, parent company of Torch, and the founder of Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC. Roark has more than 30 years of Department of Defense-related experience. As the CEO of Torch, Roark guided Torch to national recognition as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, and twelve consecutive selections on the Inc. 5000 list recognizing the Fastest Growing Private Companies, including recognition as the No. 1 Fastest Growing Privately Held Defense Contractor in the Southeast Region. During his tenure at the company, Torch was a three-time recipient of the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for outstanding business ethics and was recognized by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce as the Small Business of the Year in Technology (2007). Roark considers employee relations and benefits one of the most important aspects of business management, and he has worked diligently to ensure top benefits and working conditions, resulting in local recognition as one of the Best Places to Work in Huntsville/Madison County in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2012, and 2008. Torch received national recognition by The Principal Financial Group as one of The Principal 10 Best Companies for Employee Financial Security, as well as recognition by Inc. Magazine and Winning Workplaces as a Top Small Company. Before founding Torch and Starfish Holdings, Roark worked for Camber Corporation as a Senior Vice President. Prior to joining Camber, Roark was with Nichols Research Corporation, at which he worked his way up from an entry level scientist position to become the President of the Criminal Justice Systems Operations Segment. Roark earned an M.S. in Physics from the University of Kentucky and a B.S. in Mathematics from Cumberland College. This past year, Torch proudly announced that we were Certified Evergreen™. A timely achievement for Torch employee-owners as they will celebrate Torch’s 20th anniversary this October, becoming Certified Evergreen™ signifies that while Torch employee-owners can look back on Torch’s past with pride, Torch is also looking forward. Becoming Certified Evergreen™ means that Torch has committed to finding ways to make 100 percent employee ownership sustainable so that Torch will remain a private company forever.
Co-Founder of Torch Technologies and Board Member Emeritus
Don Holder has over 45 years of experience in DoD research and development programs. Prior to co-founding Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch), he managed large R&D contracts for CAS Inc. and CSC/Nichols Research Corporation as a Corporate Vice President. Holder directed the CSC/Nichols Army Simulation Programs Business Unit and led modeling and simulation (M&S) initiatives across several business sectors. In this capacity, Holder was responsible for the technical and business management of a $3O-million-a-year operation. Under his management, the operation met all technical, cost and schedule requirements. Before joining Nichols, Holder worked for the U.S. Army Missile Command, working on several research projects. He served as the Technical Director of MICOM’s Fiber Optics Technology Demonstration program. He also served as the manager of several Army Tactical systems simulation and analysis efforts. Holder earned an M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Mathematics from Jacksonville State University. In 2015, Don Holder was designated as Director Emeritus.
Chief Financial Officer
Cindy Walz has over 30 years of experience in Finance and Accounting and joined Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) as Chief Financial Officer in 2017. Before joining Torch, Walz was Vice President, Finance for Vencore, Inc. (formerly Westar Aerospace/Qinetiq). In addition, Walz worked in senior finance leadership positions at Teledyne Solutions, Inc., Intergraph, Sikorsky Aircraft and United Technologies). Walz brings extensive experience in Finance and Accounting in the Government Contract Industry. She earned a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Alabama, and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
Chief Technology Officer
Joe Hill has over 30 years of experience in Department of Defense research and development programs. He has a wide range of weapon system modeling, simulation and testing experience and is considered a subject matter expert in air and missile defense. Hill joined Torch Technologies (Torch) in December 2002 and received appointment as CTO in May 2008. At Torch, Hill has led a number of large modeling and simulation projects, and his Torch team’s achievements are distinguished by strong business ethics, enhanced customer value and advancement of state-of-the-art weapon system simulation and test. Prior to joining Torch, Hill served as a Senior Staff Manager at CAS and as a Division Director at Nichols/CSC. Hill earned a B.S in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This past year, Torch proudly announced that we were Certified Evergreen™. A timely achievement for Torch employee-owners as they will celebrate Torch’s 20th anniversary this October, becoming Certified Evergreen™ signifies that while Torch employee-owners can look back on Torch’s past with pride, Torch is also looking forward. Becoming Certified Evergreen™ means that Torch has committed to finding ways to make 100 percent employee ownership sustainable so that Torch will remain a private company forever.
Joe Alexander joined the Board of Directors of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) in August 2012. During his 22 years of military service, Alexander served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including teaching as an assistant professor in West Point’s Department of Electrical Engineering and acting as a Program Manager for the Department of Defense’s Defense Switched Network program. After retiring from the U.S. Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he joined Camber Corporation, and from 1992 to 1999 Alexander served as in a number of positions at Camber, including those of Task Lead, Program Manager, Washington General Manager, and Executive Vice President/COO. Mr. Alexander then served as President of Camber from 1999-2011. During his tenure, he grew the company from 450 employees to over 2,300 and increased its annual revenue from $61 million to $440 million. After retiring from Camber, he started his own business, Alexander Consulting, LLC, and currently serves on the advisory boards of Verit Advisors and the enGenius Consulting Group, as well as serving as a consultant with Camber. Alexander is also on the Board of Directors of the Huntsville, Ala., Chamber of Commerce, as well as that of the Committee of 100, and serves as Chair of the Wells Fargo Advisory Board. Alexander received his B.S. in Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and his M.S. in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University.
Dan Bayston joined the Board of Directors of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) in September 2021. Bayston has more than 38 years of experience as a corporate finance and business valuation professional assisting publicly traded and privately held corporate clients and ERISA fiduciaries. He spent the first 25 years of his career with financial service and investment banking firm, Duff & Phelps. In 2009, he joined several former Duff & Phelps partners to form Cognient Group, LLC, where he led its Corporate Financial Advisory practice until his retirement in 2021. He also served as CEO of Cognient Securities, LLC, a broker dealer affiliate, until its sale in 2015. He is a member of many professional organizations including NCEO, ESCA, and the ESOP Association, and has served on many Boards of ESOP companies. Bayston received his MBA in Finance/Marketing from Northwestern and his BS in Finance from the University of Illinois.
Carl Monk joined the Board of Directors of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) in August 2009. Monk served as Chief Financial Officer at Scitor, successfully guiding the company through a complete ESOP buyout from its founding owners. While at Scitor, he also served on its Board of Directors. In 1987, Monk finished a 20-year career as a Naval Flight Officer and Naval Engineering Duty Officer. He went on to found Welkin Associates, ltd., a systems engineering firm providing engineering and program management services within the intelligence community, including the National Reconnaissance Office. As CEO and CFO, Monk grew Welkin over 10 years to a $20 million firm with a reputation based on integrity and technical prominence. Nichols Research Corporation acquired Welkin in 1998. Monk then served Nichols as President of its national programs and as Executive Vice President of its government programs prior to the acquisition of Nichols by Computer Sciences Corporation in 1999. Monk holds both a B.S. and an M.S in Computer Science from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
Trisha Rogers joined the Board of Directors of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) in August 2020. Rogers brings over 30 years of experience in the national intelligence and space communities with the government and industry. She served on the Board of Directors for TMA for four years after retiring from Scitor Corporation in 2009. While at Scitor, Rogers served as Vice President and Director of the National Services Sector with responsibilities for SETA support to a wide variety of customers across the intelligence community. In addition, she was Scitor’s Corporate Staff Director for the Information Systems, Operations Support, and Facilities/Real Estate teams. Prior to joining Scitor, Rogers was the President of Welkin Associates, a SETA company supporting the intelligence community that was eventually acquired by Nichols Research. Rogers also spent 13 years in government service as an NSA employee and US Navy Civilian in a variety of positions in SIGINT programs providing support in the areas of acquisition, program management, integration and test for ground processing systems and system calibration, operations, and payload engineering for satellites. She also served as the Defense Legislative Assistant to Senator Joseph Lieberman under the Navy’s Legislative Fellowship Program. Rogers has a B.S. in Business Management with a concentration in Finance and a minor in Computer Science from Furman University.
Mike Stanﬁeld has served as a Board Member of Torch Technologies, Inc. (Torch) since 2016 and of Linc Research since 2018. Stanfield served as President of Miltec and Group Vice President of the Advanced Systems Group in Ducommun Inc., providing engineered products and high-tech proprietary systems for defense, aerospace and industrial applications, as well as engineering services in missile and aerospace system design, development, integration, and test from August 2009 and retired in April 2016. Since 2016 Stanfield has been a consultant on technology maturation and productization. He has over 40 years of experience in DoD and the intelligence community. Previously, Stanfield was Senior Vice President of Dynetics, responsible for Strategic Direction and Corporate Development. He also served as President of iMs, providing software for drug testing and drug courts. Stanfield launched Dynetics commercial activities developing software and hardware support to the automotive industry. He was also Chairman of the Board of DMD, a joint venture dedicated to the Space and Missile Defense Market. Stanfield is a member of the Engineering Leadership Society – Epsilon Lambda Chi, Engineering Honor Society – Tau Beta Pi, and the Management Honor Society – Beta Gamma Sigma. He was a founding member and served as Chairman and President of a non-profit company, Lincoln Village Preservation Corporation, refurbishing housing for low income residents in Huntsville’s historic Lincoln Village. He served on the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is currently Chairman of the Cummings Research Park Board. Stanfield received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University, his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Vanderbilt University.