What helped you decide to found/become an owner of Optimum Networking?
That is a great question. I worked at a large cooperation (CH2MHill) for a number of years, and at the beginning of that run, quite coincidentally, I worked with our founders Joe Turnbough and Tracy Huntzinger. Just as I started there, they left to start Optimum Networking. I continued for another 18 years and had a great run. I always kept in touch with Joe and Tracy, and they even did some contract work with me from time to time. They are really great guys so there was no reason NOT to stay in touch with them both personally and professionally. It was a great relationship all the way through. When it was time for me to leave, I knew I didn’t want to work for another large organization again. I wanted to go someplace where I could make a difference. When I reached out to Joe and Tracy, it was exactly what I was looking for. We truly complement each other. I can’t imagine working anywhere else after the last eight years. We are like brothers here who can finish each other’s sentences. Optimum Networking is a great place to be.
As an owner of Optimum, what are you most proud of?
That’s an easy one. For me, Optimum is a second family. This is not only between Joe, Tracy and me but with all of our employees. We care about each other. Everyone is willing to help each other succeed. On the job, we help each other by readily sharing information. If some needs help outside of work, we are all ready to lend a hand. Our team really cares about each other, and that flows right over to our clients. You can really tell a lot about someone’s personal relationships by how they treat people in their professional relationships. The family we have created here is something I’m really most proud of. We have a great company that does a lot of cool things, and the people are really the best investment we make.
What are some of your favorite memories over the years?
There are so many! The chili cookoffs, pumpkin carving contests and our summer picnics are great. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat for our clients in a tough situation is very intriguing as well. I think one of my favorite memories was last spring when COVID hit, and one of our clients needed something from Optimum badly to get through a tough spot. There weren’t a lot of options, so Tracy (Huntzinger, co-owner and founder) and I jumped in a truck and drove out to Texas for a week. We helped finalize the transition for an acquisition and got them out of a real tight spot. There were some severe penalties to pay if we couldn’t get this transition done. Flying wasn’t an option, so we just had to make it work. Sometimes you just have to make lemonade out of lemons, and it turned out to be a win-win for everyone. We got the chance to do some really cool stuff and we had a lot of fun. That is one of my best memories.
You’ve been doing this a long time. What keeps you fresh and “in the game?”
I’d have to say that initially when I started in IT, it was more of a challenge to see if I could understand things. The more I did it, the more I realized that I enjoyed learning. The technology landscape is always changing. That means that here at Optimum Networking, we need to stay current, or we fall behind very quickly. One of my roles is to keep us in front of that technology curve. I’m in “the catbird seat” so to speak. I get to check out new services and there is a lot of great tech out there that I get to evaluate for our team and for our clients too. It never seems like I’m working, and that is the best job you can have when you enjoy what you do. It is not like a 9-5 job. where you just put your time in. Tech has always been fun for me and to be able to do what we do here at Optimum and help our clients succeed in their business through technology is just icing on the cake. It’s a fun job to have.
If current or future clients need to know one thing about optimum, what would it be?
I’m going to go back to what we talked about earlier. The culture at Optimum is what sets us apart from the competition. We are a family, and this means you can lean on each other in a tough situation. There isn’t anyone here that wouldn’t give you the shirt of their back if you needed it. Our Optimum Team works hard for our clients, and we try to have fun while doing it. We spend a lot of time at work, and it is good to have friends you can count on around you. We share our knowledge. A lot of IT engineers can be egotistical. They want to be “the man” and “the one who solves the problem”. That’s not the case here. We only get better if everyone gets better. We don’t want to leave anyone behind in the tech game. We are very family oriented, and we like to help each other succeed. I think that is the best culture you can have whether that is here at Optimum or at one of our clients or vendor partners. We are very culture oriented and want to make sure things are a good fit. We will do everything we can to make sure Optimum is a successful place for us and our families, and for our clients as extended families.