By Byron Middendorf
January 6, 2016
This week, I had the honor of congratulating David West on his 20th anniversary with Equinox. Over the thirty year history of our company, we have been privileged to have many great employees and celebrated hundreds of anniversaries. It is with no hyperbole that I report that no employee has had a greater impact on the success of our company than David.
Twenty years ago, David, who knew my brother-in-law, called and asked if we could have lunch together. David was just wrapping up his MBA at Vanderbilt University and was starting the networking process for the next step in his career. Since I was a native Nashvillian and a local businessman, I suppose David assumed I would be brimming with connections. For my part, I was always looking for an excuse to go to lunch. Before the waiter had taken our order, I let David know that my connections were few and my influence lagged far behind my connections. Kudos to David for sticking around for the meal!
After an hour with David, I returned to the office and told my business partner, Wayne Lowe, that we had to hire this guy I had just met. Wayne replied that we werenít hiring. I told him we were now! I had seen something in David that is a rare and precious combination. He was extremely intelligent (graduated number one in his class from Vanderbilt), knew how to listen, and was one of the most articulate communicators I had ever spoken with.
For whatever reason, David accepted our offer and thus began a journey of professional and personal growth for all of us that continues to this day. David will tell you that the first few months were a cold bath of reality from the MBA world of IPOs and stock options. Equinox was not out to set the world on fire. Our goal then, as it is now, was to create a great place to work. That means going home at 4:30, talking to customers instead of investors, listening to customers, and delivering on what we promised.
David, to his credit and our benefit, observed and listened and then began to nudge us along the path of productizing our custom solutions. He then helped us create products that could be applied across the rapidly expanding telecommunications industry of the late 1990's. The growth of our revenues and the ability to communicate who we are to our potential customers can in large measure be attributed to Davidís efforts.
Before you think this is a fluff piece on David, let me pull back the curtain a little bit. Up until Davidís arrival, I was the only sales person our company had ever known. My style and Davidís areóhow do I put this gently?ó polar opposites. I am folksy and like to tell stories. David is laser focused and intent. Can you say "oil and water"? The clashes were sometimes heated, but not surprisingly, always productive. I have and continue to learn so much from David on a daily basis.
This missive would not be complete if I did not tell you about David's love for his family. His first daughter and my son were born one-month apart. It has been a joy to watch David, and his wife Jule, nurture and guide their family in a very intentional, productive, and loving way.
So, David, thank you for the passion, excellence, patience, and, most of all, tireless efforts on Equinox's behalf over the last two decades. I'm looking forward to twenty more!
About the Author: Byron Middendorf is the CEO, owner, and founder of Equinox Information Systems, where he oversees the company’s sales, marketing, implementation, and support initiatives. With over 30 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, Byron provides vision and long-term strategic development for the company and its complete suite of software solutions. Although he enjoys those tasks, he is most passionate about his mission to ensure that Equinox is a great place to work. To learn more, visit www.equinoxis.com or call (615) 612-1200.