Why Afterburner is one of Forbes Best Small Companies in America


This month, Forbes Magazine named Afterburner one of the top twenty-five Best Small Companies in America – a great honor that we truly appreciate. For those of you unfamiliar with our organization, I’d like to use this opportunity to explain who we are, what we do, and why we were named to this distinguished list.

Afterburner is a global team of current and former Fighter Pilots, US Navy SEALs and other Elite Military Professionals. We raised our hand and took an oath, and we believe our service doesn’t end when our time in the military concludes. Our passion is empowering our clients at the individual, team and enterprise level with the tools and techniques of Flawless Execution®, a methodology derived from our Elite Military experience and 20 subsequent years of experience working with the world’s greatest organizations.

When I joined Afterburner in 2013, I knew that I was aligning myself with a CEO and a team that met my personal values and goals. Afterburner has been extremely successful for the last 20 years – we have worked with 85% of the Fortune 50, been featured in six national-level publications, worked with two Super Bowl Winning NFL Teams (including the Denver Broncos), earned numerous additional accolades and we have been listed on the Inc. 500/5000 list four times – but the team still has its roots in our humble, team-centric military culture.

Our organization embodies the principles of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do. Our CEO, Jim “Murph” Murphy, a former Air Force F-15 pilot, drives these values and our unyielding commitment to doing what is right. For example, in 2013, we created the Afterburner Military Transition Seminar – a program that has provided career training and counseling for over 2000 separating and retiring veterans and their spouses.

Based on our exemplary work with the military, Afterburner has been a 2014 and 2015 finalist for the US Chamber of Commerce Hiring our Heroes Award for Small Business Veteran and Spouse Employment. However, the Military Transition Seminar is just a small portion of our organization – the bulk of our effort is focused on training great organizations the tools, techniques, and procedures of Flawless Execution®.

Flawless Execution® is a proprietary continuous improvement methodology utilized to close execution gaps and accelerate the performance of individuals, teams, and organizations in the Fortune 1000. It has been taught at leading US business schools, including Vanderbilt, Duke, & MIT. This innovative methodology is unique and world-class. Our passion for excellence and our untraditional facilitation techniques create an intimate customer experience that continuously drives repeat business.

Afterburner has a great product, an incredible mission, and a distinguished history. However, the greatest aspect of our organization is the relationship between the company and its employees. My co-workers and I LOVE working for Afterburner…we feel valued, appreciated, supported and empowered. We have a culture of continuous learning and we are encouraged to create our own content and products to share with the team.

As our CEO, it would be easy for Murph to distance himself from his employees. Instead, he delegates himself as a member of the team. He encourages us to call or email him directly and our close relationships with him have produced loyalty, motivation, and improved communication amongst the team. Rather than scale the organization beyond our value proposition of credible, passionate Elite Military Professionals collaborating with clients to effect transformational value, we have remained true to our roots and ethos, preserving our culture and values.


David “Finch” Guenthner is a 2003 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a current member of the Montana Air National Guard.  While serving on active duty, Finch accrued almost 2000 hours in the F-16C Fighting Falcon and the T-38C Talon (a fighter/bomber trainer).  Finch has Flawlessly Executed 80 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was awarded 4 Air Medals for his actions.  Based on his performance, he was selected as one of just ninety Air Force representatives to handle the movement of Air Force One.  In addition to providing world-class consulting services for Afterburner, Finch is also a contributing editor for a not-for-profit, non-partisan website that hopes to spur responsible change in our federal government and make it more responsive to the needs of the people.