Founder and CEO of Custom Integrated Solutions, LLC www.cis-prosvcs.com, Greg Flowers and wife LaVerne are on a vested mission to enhance, increase and improve the opportunities for the residents of Ward 8 by bridging the technological divide. Both native Washingtonians, Ward 8 residents are more than knowledgeable of the educational, socioeconomic and technological challenges that still negatively impact the wards’ inhabitants. Greg is a 1982 graduate of Ballou High School and his story is not one of bleak, despair or statistical pitfalls often indicative of African American males raised in high crime, drug and alcohol infested communities. Greg grew from the infamous Valley Green communities, now Wheeler Creek Community Development Corporation, notorious for open air drug markets, turf wars and immense poverty. However, he understood, even then, that commitment and education were driving forces to his success, security and independence. Greg was not ashamed at all to acknowledge that he started his employment career in high school working as a janitor, cleaning toilets. He was not ashamed to acknowledge that at 19 years of age, he forfeited an athletic scholarship to play basketball so that he could provide a stable income and benefits for his expected child. For Greg, those were mere motivators not challenges. Service would become his muse, service to his family, his country and now his community.
It was at this point in his life that evolution, access and opportunity was presented to Greg through the United States Army. Greg entered the Army, serving as a Fire Director Communications Specialist and Nuclear Assurance Team from 1983 thru 1986. Exiting the military with a solid foundation, Greg continued to progress in his career as a Military Police Officer for Bolling Air Force Base until 1989, the Naval Security Station and finally working for the United States Post Office. While at the U. S. Post Office, Greg returned to the main staple of education, attending globally known Computer Engineering Institution, NEC where he graduated top of his class with a 4.0 GPA. Greg decided to continue with further education attending the Howard University Continuing Education Program, obtaining his certification as a Microsoft Certified System Engineer in 1998.
What became increasingly clear to Greg were the limited access, support, and management level opportunities for African American men. At that time and unfortunately, African American men in the field of Engineering were sparse. Challenges such as inequalities in salaries, stifled advancements and promotions and the like, would not support his ability to grow, contribute and be appropriately compensated. After applying himself at technological institutions such as Verizon, Sprint, MCI World Com and USI, Greg felt he had acquired enough knowledge, provided enough services and created a stable network to venture out into the ambiguous world of entrepreneurship. Akin to high school, Greg understood a new set of challenges were on the rise and similar to high school; he was prepared to act.
Greg founded Custom Integrated Solutions, LLC (CIS), in 2007 and it has literally become one of the strongest, leading IT providers in the DC Metropolitan area. CIS is located in the heart of Ward 8, at 3215 Martin Luther King Jr., Avenue, S. E. Specializing in technology network assessments planning, designing, implementation, enhancement, and cabling, CIS ensures that local government, private, faith-based, and educational entities are technologically equipped. Creating partnerships with DC Public Library, DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, DC Department on Disability Services, Forrester Construction Company and many others, CIS has successfully designed and implemented network infrastructures, as well as provided technology services within Anacostia, Dorothy I. Height -Benning, Watha T. Daniels-Shaw, Georgetown and Tenley-Friendship Libraries, and opening in the fall of 2011, Washington Highlands, Mt. Pleasant and Francis Gregory. Such sites were void of modern technology and access to global information. As such, their users, residents, and participants were either unengaged or required to seek access outside of their neighborhoods.
According to Greg and LaVerne, it is their responsibility to ensure that Ward 8 residents are given equal access to opportunities, information and possibilities that can lead to advancement and enlightenment. Greg emphasizes the need to encourage African Americans, especially in Ward 8, “To pursue not just Bachelors but more importantly, a Masters’ or PhD in the field of Engineering. This will increase the potential for growth and secure a stable career path whether independently or within another institution.” In addition, Greg and LaVerne are vested in supporting the growth and development of youth and young adults in the Ward 8 communities by providing opportunities, creating relationships and contributing to the communities where they once lived, played and were educated. As LaVerne expressed, “No one is going to give you anything; everything worth having requires hard work and supportive people and we are all responsible for the lives of those around us.” The Flowers are proud and certain that while the residents of Ward 8 have many obstacles, they are a community rich with talent and resources, abundant in skills and over-flowing with positive possibilities.