CEO Connect with Brian Butler

Brian Butler is the president and CEO of Vistra Communications, a full-service marketing, communications and consulting agency that provides a range of integrated marketing, communications and management support services to corporate and government clients. Vistra is an SBA 8(a) and Certified Service, Disabled Veteran – owned Small Business.

Butler has also served in the Homeland Security Council in the White House and key positions in the Pentagon.

He worked in the Washington, D.C. office of FleishmanHillard, was the spokesperson and chief of communications for then Secretary of the Army, Louis Caldera, and on the personal staff for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He is also an active supporter and cheerleader to students at Mort Elementary in Tampa.

Bridgette Bello, the CEO and publisher of Tampa Bay Business & Wealth, interviewed Brian Butler in front of an invitation-only audience at Five Labs in Tampa. Here’s a recap of that discussion.

Well Mr. March, how’s it been to be a cover model and share your story?

It’s been unbelievable.  I have received calls, emails and text messages from so many people, congratulating us on the impact that we are making in the community. We are building new relationships and partnerships. It’s been very humbling.

We talk a bit about revenue in your story – it’s impressive. You ended 2018 around $12 million, where are you projecting to end 2019?

In the Black!

Talk about your days in the White House – what is one of the funniest, best or worst stories you can share with us?

Working in The White House is not something that I ever dreamed about doing. It’s an honor to serve the President of the United States. I served as the director of BioDefense Policy on the Homeland Security Council. It was fast-paced and the quality of work had to be at a very high level every day. I learned to be succinct and accurate in writing, as the president just doesn’t have the time to read the large volumes of work being produced by the staff.   

I once walked with the president and updated him on a topic as he was boarding Marine One. I literally had less than a minute to clearly articulate our position and update the President of the United States.     

What’s next for you?

I spend a great deal of my time travelling and building relationships. We opened a northern Virginia office and we want to grow our presence in the Washington, D.C. area.

What’s next for Vistra?

We continue to expand our integrated marketing and communications work for commercial clients. We are very focused on expanding our commercial client portfolio. Our acquisition of Marketing Associates has gone extremely well, and we continue to look for the great opportunity to enhance our offerings and expand our presence.  We are very much focused on the next five years of growth and sustainability.      

Can you tell us about some of the federal agencies you currently work with at Vistra?

We are very fortunate that we are providing a range of services to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Special Operations Command South, National Guard Bureau, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, among others.   

If someone wants to do business with a government contractor, what advice would you give them?

Be sure that it’s a place that you want to do work. It’s not easy and there are lots of rules and it’s better if you understand the federal government procurement rules and business cycles.  You may find it much easier to enter this space with qualified partners who understand how to navigate through the many government agencies.

What didn’t we cover in the interview that you’d like to discuss, while you’ve got the floor?

You highlighted in the article how passionate we are about this community. We are focused on not just serving in the community but building capacity and enhancing the lives of others. We have been working with Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins on a program that we will roll out next fall. Our CEOs in Schools initiative will place a CEO in each of the 180 elementary schools for one day on October 18, 2019.

The intent is for the CEO to spend one whole day in an elementary school. The CEO and principal will agree on the agenda.

  We will ask the CEOs to do 5 simple things:

1.   Sign up online and get matched with an elementary school   

2.   Attend a one-hour reception (we are working to finalize a date and location for the August reception).

3.   Spend one-hour with the elementary school principal prior to the event to learn more about the school.   

4.   Spend all day Friday, October 18, 2019 in the school.

5.   Take a post event short survey to share your experience ♦


TBBW’s “CEO Connect” series is an exclusive, invitation-only, monthly event that brings together many of the Tampa Bay area’s top business leaders to meet and mingle. ServisFirst Bank was presenting sponsor and gold sponsors were Five Labs, SEDCO, Metropolitan Ministries and Inside the Box.

The evening begins with a cocktail reception for about 120 guests, followed by a live interview of well-known C-level executives who provide insight into their personal lives, careers and views on issues affecting the business community.

Partnering with TBBW on this event provides an opportunity to network with the area’s business elite, generate new business opportunities and increase brand awareness.

For information about event sponsorship opportunities, email Jason Baker at [email protected].

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