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Apr 12 / Brandon Diehl

CPBJ CFO of the Year Finalist –Vaughn G. Silar, Jr.

There are many definitions of a leader, just google the word—explanations galore.  The word certainly doesn’t exhume weakness and only touches the surface with all of the synonyms you can muster up.  What the word really dictates is Action.

Vaughn G. Silar, Jr, is a leader—defined by his family: a loving man with integrity, and completely entrusted, defined by his friends: a loyal man with great character and unequalled commitment, defined by his colleagues: a man that’s always up for the challenge, thinks outside the box and has an impeccable work ethic.  What’s that ol’ saying, “Actions speak louder than words”?  It’s a tough juggle and doesn’t go without hard work, determination and a little fight here and there.

Vaughn and his wife Kim, have had their own struggles—while undergoing infertility treatments and a new job, their direction was uncertain.   The safety net of financial security just wasn’t there to venture out on his own.  Travail and dedication to his wife and his career took on a new chapter.  He not only worked full-time for an engineering firm, he also worked part-time for his colleague building cell sites in Louisiana.  That part-time gig gave them the financial means to survive infertility treatments and start the adoption process.

Less than a year later he was launching Paragon Engineering Services and waiting for his beautiful baby girl to arrive home from Korea all within a couple of weeks from one another.  Although Paragon’s official start date was August 12, 2002, Karissa was safe and sound and at home by July 29th two weeks earlier.  If you can picture Vaughn hard at work in the spare bedroom next to his 4 month old baby girl—life was good.  That inaugural year he grossed $25,000 and only had a contracted workforce.

In 2003, Paragon moved from the 10’ x 10’ spare bedroom to an office suite on South George Street that housed 1,500 square feet, hired his first full-time employee and two part-time employees and grossed over $250,000 with approximately 25 clients.

Along with the Paragon family growing, Vaughn and Kim’s family was growing too—they welcomed their second baby in December of 2004, Quinten was just 7 months old.  And in 2006, they welcomed Keynes Lin, an exchange student from Taiwan, who lit up their life for only 10 short months.  To this day, the Silar family keeps in touch with Keynes, even calling her their daughter.

Not only did each year promote growth with gross revenues climbing but Vaughn embraced change and added office space, employees and collateral all by 2008.

The economic downturn in 2009 held stress for many companies; but that year was different for Vaughn. Paragon moved into their newly renovated LEED™ Gold accredited building, expanded their Lehigh Valley Office and established their North East Maryland location.  Paragon’s philosophy was still the same—plan the design process to assure quality, cost-effectiveness and on-time delivery, no “up-selling” of services; consider alternatives to achieve optimum value and specified performance; communicate effectively with the client and design team; coordinate our work with the design team; and, integrate our design with other building systems for reliable operations and maintenance.

The Recession finally caught up with Vaughn and Paragon.  Vaughn was forced to make some hard decisions—with that came downsizing both the York and Lehigh Valley team members.  Paragon’s gross revenue dropped significantly but Vaughn proved he was a force to be reckoned with.  The motto in 2010 was a motto of reflection, “Breathe, Review and Prepare”.

Breathe – step back and enjoy the blessings that have been bestowed upon us, purge the chaos of the last 5 years of RAPID growth, and recharge for the coming challenges.

Review – look back at what has been accomplished, dissect the good and bad of what we’ve done, learn from the mistakes, and refocus on the mission ahead.

Prepare – put systems, procedures, and people in the right place with the right tools to be ready for the next charge.

Vaughn has many strengths, one of them is the ability to guide others in being successful—giving them the opportunities and tools to achieve greatness.  It isn’t an easily taken road and the assurance of stability is compromised often—but the reward of helping someone is the end result and that by itself is the honor.

With guidance and leadership from Vaughn, Paragon has opened a new location this year in Western Maryland and is now seeing an up climb in gross revenues.

Vaughn’s leadership and determination doesn’t stop with his family or Paragon’s success; Vaughn’s involved in many organizations from ACE  Mentoring Program to sponsoring company softball teams and race cars.  One organization in particular is truly near and dear to his heart called, Grace Granted, a charitable organization that gives grants and interest-free loans to families that are looking to finance adoptions.  The Silars and another family hope to support many more families in upcoming years through this organization.

The road hasn’t been easy, but it has been gratifying.  Vaughn lives by his own motto, “Work hard~play hard”.

By, Stephanie Bausman