, it turned out, had been thinking along the same lines.
SEAL career took him to Haiti, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Prince
realized the men were not getting "the cutting-edge training they needed to ensure success."
"In a letter home while I was deployed, I outlined the vision that is today Blackwater
," the media-shy Prince said in a rare e-mail interview last week.
and Clark mapped out plans for more than a year.
That's when Clark discovered Prince
was no ordinary SEAL.
"I was in the unusual position after the sale of the family business to self-fund this endeavor," Prince
But Worthington said Prince
and the Blackwater people won over Camden County officials.
Q&A: Interview with Blackwater founder Erik Prince
Not everyone is thrilled with the company's growth.
Neighbors have complained about noise, traffic and proximity to firing ranges.
"So I wrote a Web site and mailed it to Erik Prince
on a 3½-inch disk," he
Even with the luxury of Prince's
financial backing, "we were a very small business in the beginning," Jackson said.
Ultimately, Blackwater's struggle to forge its identity resulted in a parting of the ways between Prince and his early collaborator Clark, who left the company in 2000.
In an e-mail interview, Blackwater founder Erik Prince said: "Given the sensational tone of the media coverage our industry receives, it is understandable that there are calls for more regulation."
In the end, though, an unfettered marketplace is self-regulating, Prince
Erik Prince, the company's reclusive founder, is reportedly in attendance, but as usual, he steers clear of the spotlight.
may choose to stay in the background, but his
company is bent on polishing its image.
Erik Prince's sister Betsy, a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, is married to Dick DeVos, billionaire son of the founder of marketing giant Amway and this year's likely Republican candidate for governor of Michigan.
went to private schools in Michigan, earned his
pilot's license at 17 and attended the U.S.
He later joined the Navy and was deployed with a SEAL team.
Prince was living in Virginia Beach when he founded Blackwater in 1996.
now runs the Prince Group
, Blackwater's parent company, from an office in McLean, Va.
first wife, Joan, died of cancer in 2003.
has since remarried, and has six children.
Prince is a board member of Christian Freedom International, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping persecuted Christians around the world.
Since 1998, he
has made nearly $200,000 in contributions to Republican committees and candidates, including President Bush and indicted former House leader Tom DeLay, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Erik Prince (born June 6 , 1969 in Holland, Michigan ) is the founder and owner of the military support contractor Blackwater USA . A millionaire and former US Navy SEAL , after high school he briefly attended the United States Naval Academy before attending and graduating from Hillsdale College . After college, he earned a commission in the United States Navy after joining in 1992, and served as a Navy SEAL officer on deployments to Haiti, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, including Bosnia.
moved to Virginia Beach and personally financed the formation of Blackwater USA
at the age of 27.
The company is wholly owned by Erik Prince
and does not release financial figures, but estimates of their income range wildly from $100 million to $600 million per year.
It wasn't until Erik Prince picked up his first security contract from the CIA (with then VP of Security Jamie Smith) that income began to flow.
own development and heavy construction company that will benefit from the increased activity at Moyock.
Unlike more conservative companies like DynCorp, Olive, Triple Canopy, HART, ArmorGroup, MVM and others Blackwater
and Erik Prince
have worked hard to build a culture of Blackwater.
Its owner, Erik Prince, is a major Republican campaign contributor and his company has received more than $85 million worth of U.S. government contracts.
Over 20 Blackwater
employees have been killed in Iraq.