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Pannone, Gonzales, Vickers split from Alias Training; more to follow

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UPDATE: Alias Training has ceased operations. See its Facebook post below.
Alias Closed
: Larry Vickers Announces new training company, Aztec Training Services.

UPDATE 3: Craig Douglas (Southnarc) of ShivWorks also released a statement

We just heard from a couple of highly regarded tactical trainers of their decision to part ways with Alias Training & Security Services over failed financial obligations. Alias works as a promoter, connecting its client trainers to students and venues for instruction. Trainers pay Alias a fee for this marketing and management service as it frees them up to teach, develop new products and, in some cases, gel their hair.

This week Mike Pannone and Jeff Gonzales posted similar announcements to their social media channels letting followers know they are parting ways with Alias. Immediately. Both instructors explain Alias has not payed them, despite their students paying Alias for spots in their classes. Pannone's and Gonzales's announcements can be found below.

Founded by Paul Hotaling, Alias opened it's doors in 2012 and has built a considerable roster of top flight tactical instructors including: Bob Vogel, Kyle Raisbeck- Tactical Medical, Tracker Dan – Dan Stanchfield, Ken Hackathorn, Craig Douglas (SouthNarc), Mike Pannone, Larry Vickers, Pat McNamara, Daryl Holland, Freddy Osuna, Jeff Gonzales and Rob Leatham.

Prior to 2012, Hotaling managed a similar service under the flag of the now defunct Grey Group Training. In it's day, Grey Group, based outside the gate at Ft. Bragg, was a go-to supplier of high-end training and gear for discerning military members and contractors. It shuttered its doors in 2014 following the firm's 2012 sale to Mission Ready Equipment, itself a doomed venture related to the also doomed sporting goods chain, Blue Ridge Mountain Sports. Blue Ridge closed it's doors in January, 2016.

Hotaling parted ways with GGT in 2012, taking with him the training clients that would form the backbone of Alias Training Services. We will not be surprised to see more announcements of a similar nature from other Alias clients in the coming days and weeks.

From Mike Pannone, CTT Solutions, 7/10/2016:

In the training industry a person’s integrity is everything and once lost can rarely if ever be rehabilitated. I am currently in arrears for a very substantial amount of unpaid instructor fees from Alias with no hope of being compensated, and I have serious concerns that my clients are at risk. For this reason, I must take action.

**Effective upon the release of this statement, CTT-Solutions will cease all connections with Alias Training and Security Services or any agent thereof.

Please go directly to for all future classes or inquiries about attending or hosting a class. This will be the avenue for enrollment consistent with all formerly Alias-promoted instructors. I am sure many of you have questions on how I arrived at this decision. To give you context, I was a part of the Alias group at its launch in July 2012 by Paul Hotaling. Paul / Alias functioned much like a concert promoter where he was paid by the sponsored instructors, all of whom are independent companies separate from Alias.

In the last ten months, CTT Solutions and the other Alias-promoted instructors failed to receive timely deposits from Paul/Alias. CTT-Solutions itself discovered that Paul had failed entirely to pay for a class and only after its own forensic re-creation of both training and schedule documents. Then problems worsened when Paul/Alias failed to pay instructors altogether even after the performance of a class for days and sometimes even weeks. Paul/Alias’ conduct extended to the clients themselves who grumbled about the near-impossibility in getting a response from Paul/Alias for information or refunds. This was a consistent complaint heard by the instructors from across the country. To compound the issues, venues were not receiving timely or sometimes any payment for range fees. I was recently informed that several venues had not been paid going back to the Fall of 2015 despite those funds being already taken from the instructors’ payment.

Collectively, the instructors gave Paul/Alias every benefit of the doubt on these issues but that can no longer be done. Alias currently owes payment for a class I conducted 3 weeks ago in a venue that has yet to be paid for range fees. This has become a recurrent problem that Paul/Alias created for Mac, Jeff, Craig and myself since the end of 2015 that has only become progressively worse.

I know I speak for not only myself but Mac, Jeff and Craig when I say your patronage is something we value greatly, making this a particularly frustrating and disappointing situation for all of us. You are why we do what we do. Your desire to learn fuels our desire and reinforces our dedication to teach. We never forget that our efforts are to provide the best training available in the industry. Rest assured that will never change but
we need to close this chapter as quickly as refunds can be issued. I look forward to our continued efforts to prepare, and perfect our skills for protecting ourselves and our loved ones in the challenging times we live in.

From Jeff Gonzales, Trident Concepts, 7/7/16:

As many of you are aware we have been utilizing the services of Alias Training and Security (ATS) over the last 20 months. Recently, we have experienced some major problems forcing us to reconsider our association with ATS. They have been delinquent on paying us for the last several classes and more than likely will not be paying us for our CQB class in Alliance, OH I am currently getting ready for this coming week.

I am not the only one who has experienced these problems, good friends and fellow trainers Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara and Craig Douglas have all had similar experience both in delinquency of revenue owed as well as lack of communications with ATS. I feel and I know I echo the others my level of frustration has reached a point where I have exhausted all avenues and the benefit of the doubt has reached the reasonable limit. While we have done our best to communicate and come up with a reasonable solution all of our efforts have failed leading to our decision. Effective immediately I will not longer be working with ATS to promote and book our classes, all class from this point forward will be done through our own services and website.

While it should be apparent I do not have any control or influence over how ATS manages their operations, know the rest of the group and I went above and beyond trying to remedy this situation. I take this matter very seriously and I'm sure you will all see how the group and I have acted in the most professional manner, but now it is time to move forward. I count myself very fortunate to have been as successful as I have been over the years and I am indebted to the students who trust us with their training needs. This too I take very seriously and while this situation is unfortunate it in no way has affected our mission, our professionalism or our efforts.

For those of you who have registered with ATS please contact them in an effort to get refunded your class fees. Please understand, we cannot continue to carry the debt forward so as of the release of this notification all classes are canceled. I have conducted three classes to include a week long class for free as we attempted to work through this problem. My fees owed will be close to $20k so while I wish I had a better solution I am working as best as I can within the framework of reasonable solutions.

This much I can promise you, we will not fall into this situation again. We have taken safeguards and implemented new policies moving forward with the primary objective of reconstituting the classes we have the rest of the year on our schedule. If you are not able to get a refund from ATS we suggest you contact your credit card company and initiate a a claim requesting your funds be returned.

If you have any grievances with ATS I would like to hear from you so please contact us. I will do my level best to respond during next week's class so bare with me. I hope I have conveyed to you the situation and my response, I am anxious to move forward and put this behind us. Thank you for your understanding and patience and most important your steadfast support.

Craig Douglas (Southnarc), ShivWorks, 7/10/16:

Effectively immediately the ShivWorks Armed Movement in Structures (AMIS) class scheduled July 30-31, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. through Alias Training/Security Services is cancelled. Students who have enrolled and paid either full tuition, or a deposit should seek a refund from Alias Training as I have received no fees from Alias for this class. If that provides no relief I suggest you contact your credit card company. I will not be scheduling any future classes through Alias Training.

Alias Training is currently in arrears for payment to me for the AMIS class I conducted for them in May of this year in South Carolina, and is non-responsive in my attempts at contacting them.

In discussing this issue with Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara, and Jeff Gonzales, it appears that this issue is consistent with them and they too are owed fees well above what Alias owes me. We have also discovered that several ranges that host Alias classes are owed fees.

At this point I believe that Alias Training is no longer a viable training resource and cannot recommend them to anyone in good conscience.

You the community are what this industry is about and I’ve always thought of you all more as my patrons rather than my students. I have an obligation of candor and forthrightness. You allow people like me, Mike, Pat, and Jeff to do what we love doing and pay our bills. So we are in your debt and I can speak for them in saying that we will do what we always do, and remember that this is about giving you all the best training experience that we possibly can, and that unfortunately cannot be done through Alias Training.

The issue the four of us and Alias Training have will go wherever it goes and we would prefer that it be resolved quickly and without the intervention of third parties and the legal system.

Train hard and stay safe.

Craig Douglas

Then of course the announcement by Larry Vickers via his social media channels as seen at the top of this article. The press release posted on Soldier Systems follows:

We are proud to announce the formation of Aztec Training Services. Our mission will be to offer top tier tactical and marksmanship training and consulting services to military, government, law enforcement, and civilian markets. Our courses will be taught by highly experienced, combat proven instructors drawn from the highest levels of military special operations and law enforcement communities who are recognized subject matter experts in what they teach.

We are very fortunate to be able to announce Larry Vickers as our founding instructor and also as a managing partner in Aztec Training Services. Larry is one of the best known personalities in the firearms and tactical industry as a highly respected industry consultant, subject matter expert, tactical trainer, and TV and Youtube personality. He is a combat experienced veteran with many years in special operations including as an assaulter in Operation Acid Gambit during Operation Just Cause which was Delta Force’s first successful hostage rescue mission. He was also instrumental in the development of the HK416 and many other popular weapon accessories and tactical equipment.

Stay tuned as we continue to add to our all-star instructor roster.

Effective immediately, all remaining Larry Vickers classes on Alias Training’s schedule will be managed by Aztec Training Services. If you are a registered student at one of the upcoming Alias/Vickers classes, please contact us for more details.

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