From the archives – Evolution of a network guy part 3

One night I am sitting in my office wondering what is next for MTIN and I get a call from Steve Narducci in Anderson, Indiana.  Steve has this idea he wants to start an ISP.  I call up one of my good friends Chris Orr.  Chris and I had become good friends out of a chance meeting of him stopping by the office for some thermal Paste.  I instantly knew Chris was of the same kind of mold I was.  Chris had been hanging out at the office and helping with MTIN for sometime now.  Chris is the best *NIX engineer I have ever seen.  So I call Chris and ask if he wants to make a little money and so something enjoyable.  I think it took Chris awhile to realize I don’t let much hold me back and life is all about going for opportunities or creating ones.

Early one Saturday morning in 2006 Chris, Amber, and I head to Anderson Indiana to hang the first Access Points for what would become ndwave.com.  We had been prepping for this for months.  T1 line had been ordered, servers built, and equipment ordered and delivered.  Little did any of us know we were on the verge of something great.   Through a small team we were able to grow to over 1,000 customers under 2 years.  Working with NDWave was one of the first times I had the complete package.  I had the freedom to shape a growing network and the financial backing to do it. I was as unrestricted as I could get.  I felt like I had finally arrived into what I was supposed to be doing.  We were working hard and long hours, but it was fun.  There is an old saying that goes something like “If you find a profession you truly love, you will never have to work another day in your life”.

During this time I really was able to get to Know Rick Harnish.  Rick is the Marlon Brando of the the Wireless ISP world.  Rick was eager to share what he knew and help everyone around him grow.  Having someone like Rick to have conversations with was a huge asset.  He was a major pipeline to the innovation and direction other WISPs were going.  Plus Rick is just a plain cool guy.

NDWave really established my credibility in the ISP world. I had been looking for that recognition for quite awhile. Folks like Michael Pelsor,  & Debbie Seal would be added to the “family”.  These are folks who I consider friends to this day.  It was like TCTC all over again.  We were on the leading edge of this Wireless ISP wave.  The technology was becoming easier to use and more affordable.  This meant the average person could now afford reliable service delivered via Wireless.   We were growing into areas where there was no broadband.  It was kind of like the Wild West gold rush.  There were weeks NDWave was putting up 3-4 towers.  I was getting to work with Mikrotik, Cisco, Tranzeo, and some other manufacturers.  Life was good.  We had a fiber feed, rack space at a Premier data center, and got to play with other cool toys.

Then Omnicity comes along and things change yet again….

From the archives – Evolution of a network guy part 2

Being hired as a tech support tech at tctc.com would forever change my life.  It was like being shown who was behind the curtain.  All of a sudden this world of T1 lines, modem banks, and DNS servers was before me.  I couldn’t soak up enough of it.  It was here I met some of the best people I have known in my life.  Guys like Robg, Robr, John “Land”, and Jimbo.  We became a sort of dysfunctional family.  We were at the head of the wave as the Internet and personal computing exploded. We were truly among a very small group of people doing technical support for an ever-growing ISP.  During that time businesses did not have I.T. departments, there were very few consultants, and very few people had done any of this before.  We were being looked to because we were the closest anyone had to experts.   This caused us to be on the leading edge of the World Wide Web boom.  Our close-knit group became close because no one else knew what we were talking about.  All of us looked at what we were doing as more than a job.  It was a lifestyle.   Like anything in life, things change.  The small telephone company was sold to TDS Telecom and I saw the writing on the wall.  The culture we had developed was coming to an end.

Shortly after leaving TCTC.com I stated my own dial-up ISP on a shoestring budget.  My dad was one of my biggest supporters in this venture.  Without him I never would have been able to do it.    Sadly I lost my father in 2001.  This meant we needed the extra income to survive.  I applied for a job at Lafayette School Corporation as a Macintosh Specialist.  Here I meant some people such as Eric Thiel.  Eric is the Zen Master of the computer world.  From Eric I learned the ability to relax when it came to solving technology problems.  My term at LSC was similar to the culture at TCTC.  We were a small group on the cutting edge of integrating technology into the day to day operations of the teachers.  Things others take for granted were new at that time.  Using PDAs with wireless cards to take attendance, implementing Gigabit Ethernet, and PC automation were some of the fun things we were doing.   It was during this time I learned a lot on how I wanted my professional life to be.  I was working for a Boss who had serious issues.  He would what I would consider your “typical I.T. stereotype”. He made my life miserable.  Part of it was me seeing the wasted potential in myself. It was here I knew the ISP business was my true calling.

At the same time I was at LSC, my ISP business (MTIN.NET), was branching out into being one of the first Wireless Internet Service Providers in the area.  We hung our first piece of wireless gear around 2003.  I never had enough money to truly expand like I wanted to.  During this time I met Amber.  Amber was the best thing to ever happen to me. Quickly she became a true partner in everything we were doing.  She was spending her weekends helping me keep everything together.  Our typical weekend would be me on a grain leg installing or trying to keep equipment up with her at the bottom plugging in stuff.  We were both working full-time jobs and trying to make a go of the ISP.  Many days I would get home from my 9-5 job and be working on MTIN things until 11 or 12.  The next day would be a full repeat of that.  MTIN did computer repair as well as the ISP thing.  The computer repair business kept the lights on, but also further showed me the ISP side of things is what my true calling was.

When another WISP came into the area it was time for myself and MTIN to morph yet again.  That’s where meeting Steve Narducci changed it all….

 

Continued in Part 3