History of SDI


SDI was incorporated in 1979 in Gainesville, FL by two professors at the University of Florida with a goal to support government aviation project offices. In 1984, Steve P. Smith, now-retired SDI Vice President, left his position as Chief, Technical Management Division, TADS/PNVS Project Office, to found SDI's Aviation Technical Center in St. Louis, MO. In 1988, three government senior executives left their positions to join SDI's small Huntsville, AL office and set up their respective technical divisions in Huntsville. In an effort to be closer to our government customers and now the bulk of the technical staff, SDI moved its corporate headquarters from Gainesville to Huntsville in 1989. Soon after, one of those former government executives and SDI Technical Director, J.C. White, became the long-tenured President & CEO of SDI. He was formerly Chief of the Aquila Technical Management Division, RPV Project Office (Aquila being the Army's first major UAV effort), and prior to that, Chief of the Test Division, Hellfire Project Office. Mr. White, with his Senior Management Team and the experienced, top-notch technical staff positioned SDI as a respected and valuable aviation and defense support contractor to our government customers for over 20 years.

Mr. White moved SDI into our purpose-built facility in Research Park in 2007. The new facility provides SDI with laboratory and service-bay capabilities that are unique in the field. Mr. White died unexpectedly in August of 2010. It was then that the Chairman and Executor, along with members of the Senior Management Team, began the search for a new President & CEO. In March of 2011, Ms. Lisa Williams was selected for this position for her exemplary leadership record. In March of 2012, Ms. Williams decided to pursue her passion of working with our vets coming out of service, and Mr. Michael "Spud" Spiegel was hired as the new President of SDI for his unrivaled experience in defense system R&D and acquisition programs, as well as his business development and strategic planning acumen. After serving SDI for four years through great growth and success, Mr. Spiegel announced his retirement in March of 2016. Upon his retirement, SDI Vice President Stephen C. (Steve) Smith was named the new President of SDI as a culmination of his executive training and the succession plan for the executive management of the company.