Life After Service: The Road to Retirement with Dalton Shealy
Life After Service: The Road to Retirement with Dalton Shealy
Dalton Shealy grew up in the small southern town of Newbury, South Carolina. After graduating from high school in 1977 and discovering there were limited job opportunities, Dalton went to work for Daniel’s Construction as a pipe fitter helper. As the nuclear power plant they were building was nearing completion, the company laid off employees left and right. Living in rural South Carolina, the only next logical step at the time was to go to work for another plant.
Dalton began working for Georgia-Pacific in 1980. Less than a year after starting there, Dalton realized he was witnessing plant workers in their 60s working tirelessly well after what should’ve been their retirement. After ascertaining his coworkers couldn’t afford to retire and live off of Social Security, Dalton’s ambitions transformed.
In the Spring of 1981 at the ripe age of 21, Dalton left the countryside and joined the Navy.
Shortly after joining the Navy, Dalton went to Storekeeper (SK) A-School in Meridian, Mississippi. Upon graduation, Dalton spent three years on board the USS Claude V. Rickets DDG-5, two years on an admiral staff for a Surface Warfare Commander group, and four years as a Navy Recruiter in Colombia, South Carolina.
In 1989, Dalton was assigned to USS Simon Lake AS-43 in Holy Loch, Scotland, where he stayed until the base was closed and all assets were withdrawn in 1992.
Upon moving back to the United States, Dalton began work at the Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity (SIMA) in Norfolk, Virginia. After working at SIMA for three years, Dalton learned of the assignment that would change his life forever: Navy Supply Chief sourcing operational equipment for SEAL Team 8.
It was while fulfilling this position that Dalton and his Supply Officer and current ADS employee, Glenn Kinnear, became Atlantic Diving Supply’s (ADS) first customer.
ADS’ FIRST CUSTOMER
In 1997, Lynnhaven Dive Center’s (LDC) owner and founder, Mike Hillier (also known as Big Mike) discovered there was a real issue with outfitting military divers with quality diver gear to complete their missions.
At the time, divers were having trouble getting wetsuits because they weren’t supported by the Navy Stock system. Out of a strong need to support the warfighter, Big Mike dedicated two LDC employees under the company name ADS, Inc. to work full-time supplying dive equipment to Navy SEALs and divers.
It wasn’t until the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) awarded the first prime vendor program to ADS that Dalton, SEAL Team 8’s Navy Supply Chief, and Glenn, SEAL Team 8’s Supply Officer, became the first customers of ADS.
RETIRING FROM THE NAVY
After four years with Navy SEAL Team 8, Dalton finished out his Navy career as the Supply Officer with Underwater Construction Team (UCT1) providing Seabees with dive and construction equipment. Dalton proudly retired from the Navy in January 2004 with 23 years of service under his belt.
Glenn Kinnear, Dalton’s former Supply Officer, went on to work for ADS Inc. and eventually retired from the Navy Reserves in 2014. ADS also offered Dalton a position as an Inside Account Manager. However, Dalton accepted a position with a competitor, Amron International, as an Outside Account Manager. Amidst Dalton managing Amron’s east coast warfare commands calling on NSW, government contractors were struggling with prime vendor regulations being tightened by Berry Compliancy. Simultaneously, ADS was growing their procurement capabilities by searching for alternate contract vehicles to sell to the government.
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT EM’, JOIN EM’
Is there a possibility I can leave Amron and join ADS?” – Dalton
In 2006, Dan Clarkson, ADS’ former President, brought in Dalton for an interview with the Director of Operations, Jason Wallace—ADS’ current CEO. Luckily, there was an opening doing exactly what Dalton loved: helping our service men and women in-person.
Dalton joined ADS as a Program Manager under the Triple Canopy program where he outfitted 35 civilians every 10 days, preparing them to go in country to provide personal protection. Each group required everything from body armor and helmets to boots and clothing.
In 2008, Dalton became the Navy Team’s Inside Sales Account Manager and has been ever since! Dalton’s reputation of doing whatever it takes to serve the customer precedes him in this space.
I told Jason I want this to be the last job I have before I retire. I said, ‘I need you to assure me this will be my last home until I retire.' He committed that to me, and he stuck to it. It just amazing how it happens you know. I wouldn’t be leaving now if it wasn’t for going back home.” – Dalton
Dalton is retiring for good at the age of 57 and attributes it to ADS treating him so well. He finds his career is coming full circle as he’s just three years younger than the 60-year-old workers he sympathized for working at plants at age 21 back home in South Carolina.
He’s able to return home to Newberry, South Carolina and looks forward to being able to take his mother to church on Sunday mornings and making dinner for Sunday evenings. It just goes to show that when you open a door another well-deserved door opens for you.
All of ADS is going to greatly miss Dalton and his charismatic, fun-loving personality. We wish him the best of luck fishing for bass like a boss at Lake Murray.
“It’s exciting. It’s bittersweet. You never know. If there is something I can do to help ADS while I’m in retirement in South Carolina, I would do it. I would call on customers.”
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