When asked to reflect on 31 years in business, I was brought right back to June of 1981. I was so excited to be able to quit my insurance sales job that had me away from my family as many as 4 nights a week. With the encouragement and confidence instilled in me by my wife and parents, I knew I could sell – but was I really able to run a business? It was just me and Fran, so could I really repair a copy machine, typewriter, or calculator? Having overhauled my own car engine in the early ‘70s certainly didn’t make me qualified. Luckily one of the former owners agreed to stay on and help me with the service side. In retrospect – I must have been nuts. Keep in mind that I also assumed a $50,000 loan at 18% interest (yes – that was the going bank rate at the time). Also, luckily, I left my former job with a tidy savings account and I needed it to make payroll a number of times! I keep referring to “luck” but I know it was really God as my partner…
It was great fun running around the area and meeting other business owners, showing off the latest in technology. Seems silly today that we could get excited about a credit card sized solar powered calculator, a typewriter with only 7 moving parts compared to IBM’s thousands, and an Eskofot photocopier that used dry toner instead of messy wet ink! Then on to the Stearns computer (made in Minneapolis and was the first computer to offer networking), the Actrix portable (CPM based with TWO floppy drives, an Amber 7” screen with a printer and modem mounted on top) and the “big one” – a server that Dean and I bought at a Las Vegas show that had seven modems and where we could sell people a connection to something called the “Internet”.
It has never been about the technology; however, it was about the people. Again, God blessed me with the opportunity to work with Fran, Marty, Jeff Jensen, Dean, Tom Dahl, Kyle Diederich, Mike Hawkenson, Andy, Becky, Mike Stienessen, Doug Harstad & Doug Tisue – 12 of our 34 that I have had the privilege of working with for close to 15 years or more. It was in Business School that I heard the advice that a business owner should surround themselves with people who are better than themselves – and I have certainly done that.
As I approach the “Friday” in my career and want to spend more time with my Wife and Grandkids (and maybe a little more golf); it is terrific to have the comfort of knowing that this family focused legacy will continue in the capable hands of my son, Chris….
Read more about our 31 years in business:
Happy Anniversary to Us!
Reflecting on 31 Years of Business with Fran Miller