Katie Bigelow, Founder
With the vision of Warfighters Serving Warfighters, this defense contracting company focuses on three primary competencies including program management, engineering, and business development. Mettle Ops launched in 2013 and now holds $33 million in contracts that focus on materials and solutions for soldier survivability. Katie’s nontraditional approach continues to redefine the government defense space.
Katie served her country as a soldier for more than 10 years. As an Army Aviator, she piloted and commanded missions in Korea and Iraq as well as the United States. Katie spent the bulk of her aviation career as a medical evacuation pilot carrying injured American heroes from the battlefield to safety.
The Bigelow family motto is “Never Give Up”. Katie and Mark raise their own army of seven children in Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Mark Bigelow, VP of Operations
As a strong leader, mentor, manager, and business developer, Mark Bigelow manages programs and develops Mettle Ops to cultivate company growth. He’s a visionary who specializes in building strong relationships, strategic thinking, and creative solutions. Mark’s accomplishments range from serving as the first Manager for Michigan Area Operation to capturing a $9 million sole source contract to support TARDEC with T&E Survivability support. Mark brings dynamic project management skills and leadership experience while serving as the Vice President of Operations at Mettle Ops.
Mark served his country as a US Army Artillery officer and Acquisition Corps officer and bravely led 100 soldiers and 27 combat vehicles in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has retired after more than 23 years of active duty and will always be a leader of soldiers at heart.
Stephanie Schmidt, Finance
Graduating Michigan State University with a bachelor’s in engineering and a double-minor in Business Technology and Supply Chain Management, Stephanie started her career in the Automotive Industry as a Quality Engineer for a Tier One supplier. After having three children, she took time off from her career to stay at home. She returned to the workforce in 2018, joining Mettle Ops in the Finance Department and is also working in the growing Engineering Department. Stephanie leads all company Research and Development efforts and manages all engineering projects from initial concept through manufacturing and delivery. These tasks include overseeing the design and implementation of customer programs and overseeing the feasibility of design and development process from prototype projects.
Stephanie and her husband, Jochen, enjoy traveling and skiing with their children, 15, 11, and 9.
Olivia King, Executive Manager
Olivia is the Executive Manager for Mettle Ops tasked with implementing budget integration and the team schedule. She champions company engagement activities and leads the team in collaborative interests to support the company’s culture and the future of the company. In addition to these efforts, Olivia oversees and manages the facility and carries out all necessary activities to ensure proper function of the organization.
Olivia and her fiancé, Matt, are actively involved in their church. Olivia also supports the childcare facilities at the church.
Veronica Baginski, Sales Representative
Veronica is the Sales Representative supporting Katie and Mark in Business Development. She supports the Marketing Team in executing the social media calendar and collaborating on company marketing material. After graduating Michigan State University in 2013, with a bachelor’s in marketing and a Sales Communication Specialization, she started her career at Frito Lay as a District Sales Manager and, later, moved into a sales role supporting the US/CAN Ford Account at a Global Automotive Supplier. Since joining Mettle Ops in July of 2018, Veronica is responsible for managing the sales opportunities for the company and submitting proposal packages to the Government. Veronica joined WID (Women in Defense) in December 2018 and is looking forward to supporting the Board in organizing events.
Veronica enjoys vacationing with her family in Charlevoix, MI and has a slight obsession with reading and listening to podcasts.
Matthew Sheppard, Program Analyst
Matthew is the Program Analyst at Mettle Ops for all GSVC, U.S. Army contracts. He manages all tasks and contracts from award to completion and strives to help build strong relations with small business owners and manufacturers. He attended West Coast Baptist College where he received a bachelor’s in ministry degree, which has provided him with customer care experience. Since working at Mettle Ops, he has completed DAU Level One Program Management classes. Matthew utilizes the education and experience to network with potential partners and maintain effective communication with current contractors.
Matthew and his wife, Sammy, moved from Texas to Metro Detroit in June 2018. He is involved in several activities in the Metro Detroit area including coaching a school baseball team, attending local city meetings, and working with youth programs.
Danielle Birchard, Human Resources Assistant
Danielle is the Human Resources Assistant at Mettle Ops and has been with the company since 2016. As a current student at Oakland University, Danielle is double majoring in Human Resources and Operations Management. Danielle worked in general administration when she started at Mettle Ops and now controls the Human Resources functions of the company.
Danielle has gone on five volunteer trips throughout the United States and internationally. She values building strong relationships and working hard to achieve goals. She has used these traits and experiences to influence her work with Mettle Ops, helping her create a working system for the business’s Human Resources operations.