Sunday, April 5, 2015

15 Years and Counting

I was recently notified that I had completed my 15th year of work at Nex-Tech. A lot of memories started to come to me reviewing those 15 years, many of these were good and a few were bad however overall I have really grown up with Nex-Tech. If my math is right I started when I was 26. A lot of things have changed in my life and with Nex-Tech.

Only have interviewed for 1 job in my life (Bagging groceries in Topeka) Sitting in the conference room being interviewed by Jesse Morgan was a real growing point. If that wasn’t scary enough Jeff Wick came in to really pour on the pressure. Being notified a few days later, I must have handled the pressure pretty well? I had spent 7 years at RadioShack working my way through college and then on to RadioShack management. It was bitter sweet leaving. Recently married and trying to find my way in a new responsible world, it was time for me to leave the 60 plus hour average work week not to mention the holiday season of might as well sleep in the store. So I packed up my box of things off my desk and moved across the parking lot to Nex-Tech. Now looking at the news related to RadioShack and speaking to the one employee that is still with that company that I knew. Sure glad I choose this path.

Having worked with a lot of young people at RadioShack I remember thinking how progressive Nex-Tech was letting a 12 year old run the Internet Department. Later realizing he was the younger brother of two that I would work with. The cubical was new to me, heck at the Shack we had one desk and it was cluttered most of the time. At the time the Internet Help Desk was in the Hays office and I learned so much from Ronald Wilburn on the other side of my cubicle. He had to be one of the most patient people on the planet. Listening to him be counselor to so many people on their technical equipment. When I would get frustrated with how things were going, I could sit back and listen in and find a new level of customer service, patience and persistence.

Jesse had built quite the team of Inside Sales people. There are many of these friends still with Nex-Tech. Bill Brown which I could tell you stories about however your own stories are probably even funnier, and Mary Thom. You have to be careful with the quiet ones. We worked closely together under Jesse’s direction for several years. Jesse (Nex-Tech Historian) would teach us the technology. I think he thought I should know something about telephony and networking working for RadioShack for so many years. Unfortunately not. So Jesse spent months (OK years) teaching me;

• Networking, Thinnet, Thicknet, 10BaseT, Hubs, 33.6 Modems.
• Hardware – starting at the 60 MHz computer to the AS400. Even tape drives.
• Software – Windows 95, ME (Don’t get him started), Windows 2000, Office 97
I think Jesse still has an 8 inch floppy drive in his office.
So many life changing events have happened to me during my time with Nex-Tech. I remember clearly which cube I sat in hearing about 9-11. The age of streaming video had not happened yet. So we all set around in shock hearing and reading about what was going on in the world. Not really understanding the true impact that was to follow for many years. I became a father twice while being here. Shortly after the birth of my second son the most impactful thing happened with the fatal car accident and Brian Burton. Brian being the father of a young daughter and his son on the way. I still think about this and will for the rest of my life. I learned how important it is to make sure your family is taken care of in the event of a tragedy. Before this I didn’t really realize the impact a company can have on your family. Nex-Tech provided.

I had mentors all over Nex-Tech. From Donna and Diana teaching me the importance of consistency to Gary who showed me the patience a new supervisor needs. Darren teaching me the way of planning. And so many more. I was thinking back to my early days experience with RadioShack and about my 5th year I was speaking with another store manager about how many people we had seen come and go. We had headed beyond 100 and lost count. Being at Nex-Tech for 15 years I realize how many of the people are still with the company. This is a tribute to a good company.

Many people did not make it through the years. They moved on to their perfect career and continuing to grow in new and different areas. It is not a bad thing. In fact many times it has been a positive thing. For people and companies. Some of the best success stories I have seen is where people continue to grow due to their experiences with Nex-Tech.

I also remember when there was changes to my supervision and wondering who was going to be next never thinking that it could be me. I sat in my cubicle on some Tuesday when Roy Inlow had an impactful conversation with me say I needed to give it a try. Who knew I was qualified none the less would get the position. Sometimes you need others around you to give you a kick in the right direction.
It has been important for me to continue to grow my skill set. I recently took a look at my book shelf at home and realized that over the years I have read over 100 books in which some have been more helpful than others. Still the important piece is to continue to grow. Some of the people over time have grown their skills beyond opportunities that Nex-tech had. Some did not grow their skills and the company passed them by. I believe this is the way of corporate culture.

Recently I was referred to as an Intrapreneur (Spell check really does not like this word). This is someone who looks for new business opportunities within an organization. One thing I can tell you is I am definitely not an entrepreneur. I cannot tolerate that kind of risk. The challenge really is finding new ways of doing things within the organization from generating new revenue to changing the process in which the organization does things. Both things I enjoy.

As I get a few years older, and realizing that I have worked in my twenties, all of my thirties and now my forties at Nex-Tech my perspective changes on my job. The importance of Customer service continues to ring through as the most important thing that needs done. Not just external customers but internal customers also. Helping those in the company serve customers is just as important.
As Nex-Tech grew, at some point I began referencing to it as “The Company” like some reference out of The Office. This allowed me to point at it as some adversary. Only in the last couple of years did I realize that I was really pointing at myself. I am part of “The Company” and with 15 years of working at Nex-Tech I was as responsible as anyone as to where we are at. I have to step up and lead from my position and make Nex-Tech what I want it to be in my own small way.

Some would say I am half way there. Hey, put in another 15 years and you can retire! That isn’t my goal. My plan is to work until I am unable to be valuable. Sure, I will probably slow down. The future may not be in the area I am currently and it will probably change one way or another. I still remember the advice my dad gave me on retirement. “Don’t do it”. Maybe in 15 year Justin McClung will look 25 and be able to fill in that beard? I have to hang around and see if that happens.

As I look back over the history one thing that I never realized is that I had the capability to influence not only my direction but many around me. In fact that influence was and is deeper than expected.

I look forward to the next 30 years or more. Building something I can be proud to be a part of. Nex-Tech has been a large part of my life for the last 15 years. Now I want to be a large part of Nex-Tech for the next 15 leaving something to the next 26 year old wanting to build a family and career.