Amy Slinker might have difficulty coming up with only a few words to classify herself. After all, she’s not only an Army National Guard soldier, mother, veteran spouse and real estate developer, but she’s also a military entrepreneur.
As a Minnesota native who spent her childhood in Indiana and Michigan, Slinker has called Alaska home since 2005 following a PCS with her husband Dustin, an Army veteran, Airborne Scout and Purple Heart recipient. While putting down roots in the northern state, Slinker founded WILCO SUPPLY – a company she dreamed of ever since she was a private and couldn’t find an all-black bag to carry while in uniform.
In creating her own company that complies with Army, and later, other branches of military regulations, Slinker has set herself apart. She recalls that her experience wasn’t just limited to herself.
“Many of my friends had difficulty finding regulation approved accessories,” she said.
And with that, WILCO launched first online and at pop-up events in Anchorage. Its signature black bags from a range of brands comply with military standards. WILCO carries travel bags, backpacks, wallets and accessories such as gloves. Even better is Slinker’s commitment to giving back to the military community.
“We carry brands owned by veterans, made by veterans and made with upcycled military materials.”
Currently, WILCO is working on adding more to its collection of accessories and bags. It’s this attention to detail that sets the company – and Slinker’s vision – apart from other uniform supply companies.
“Our goal is to be a one-stop shop for all service members. We encourage service members to check their service’s regulations and remember to defer to their chain of command,” she said.
Serving in the National Guard for over 20 years has taught Slinker a thing or two about readiness and resilience. After several years as an enlisted soldier, she commissioned through the ROTC program at the University of Texas-Arlington, giving her the opportunity to meld the experience she’s received in the National Guard with her civilian career.
“The technical training and leadership experience I’ve gained from the Army National Guard set me up for success in my civilian career,” Slinker said.
Two years ago, she embraced the role of president for one of the largest real-estate development companies in Alaska, Pfeffer Development. To date, the firm has completed more than $800 million in development projects. With Slinker at its helm, she hopes to make a concrete and specific impact on shaping Alaska as America’s last frontier.
Her military experience and leadership skills have been directly influential on this current role, and it’s one that Slinker is very excited to explore. In this role, she oversees the daily operations of the company and manages the actions required to deliver real estate products.
Though the industries are different, her role as president at Pfeffer is similar to her role as CEO at WILCO, and her role as an Army National Guard officer. All of these roles require her to be strategic and flexible, with a forward thinking vision and a clear eye on objectives.
One objective that’s absolutely in her sights is providing her 7-year-old daughter, Annabelle, with as many opportunities as possible to develop leadership skills and confidence.
“Both Dustin and I shape our daughter’s worldview by offering her opportunities and experiences in many different realms. One day she’s helping me organize my handbag display in our showroom, and the next day she’s washing fishing boots at Dustin’s business.”
She believes in the benefit of strong leadership role models, both male and female. She says that Annabelle understands their call to service, yet both Slinker and her husband continuously look for ways to explain their service to the country.
“I recognize it wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t even considered for the roles and opportunities that I’ve had,” Slinker said. “I’m thankful for the women who have paved the path for my generation.”
She routinely encourages Annabelle to be a steward to her community and seeks out instances to highlight the benefits of service. Most recently, Slinker worked with Annabelle’s Girl Scout troop to send care packages to deployment areas.
“I try to take the best leadership traits I’ve seen in my role models and implement them in my own life, to be a positive role model for the next generation,” she said.
Ultimately, no matter the title by which she’s called, her commitment to excellence and her desire to make her community better is apparent. She has routinely faced challenging experiences and has found a way to finesse them into unique learning experiences with grace, finesse and style.
From her fashionable WILCO handbags to sustainability of Alaska’s wilderness, mothering, nurturing, raising a dynamic daughter, and service to her country, she is proof that it’s possible to do many things very, very well.
Visit WILCO SUPPLY to view all military compliant bags and accessories.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect Dustin Slinker’s proper status as a military veteran, and Pfeffer Development’s completion of $800 million in development projects.Read comments