Air Force veteran Angie Lienert built her high-flying business around a great culture—after a chili dog changed her life.
ON GUARD More than half the people Angie Lienert hires are veterans, like her.

After attending high school in Frankfort, Kentucky, Angie Lienert was too independent-minded to go to college, or even to hack working at a local factory. One day, on a break from her job at a gas station, she grabbed a chili dog and a cigarette and met up at a picnic table with some friends who were home from college. “That’s when it dawned on me: This is my life. My entire life is working at a gas station, eating a chili dog,” she says. She was 19.

Lienert’s chili-dog epiphany would ultimately beget IntelliGenesis, a big-data analytics and cybersecurity firm whose biggest customer is the Department of Defense. IntelliGenesis has made mission-driven government contracting—defend your country, earn a good living—a powerful enough concept to support offices in Maryland and Georgia, with a third, in San Antonio, on the horizon.

That ethos, and the

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