From the President’s Console: August 1999

Posted August 1999

We made it! Our long anticipated move to our new building this past month went surprisingly well. We credit this to the many months of extraordinary effort put forth by the entire INFONETICS staff in preparing for it. The actual move was almost anticlimactic as it took only one Saturday of actual labor. We finished by early afternoon, worn out, but relieved that everything made it in one piece.

The phones on the other hand are another story. In what could only be described as Ameritech’s worst hour(s), we started off on Saturday morning of the move weekend discovering that phone service to our old building had already been disconnected. But no service had been established at the new building. By Monday morning we’d managed to restore partial service to the old building with the bulk of our calls being forwarded to my cell phone at the new building. We then returned phone calls using other cell phones. And, we left a computer, fax machine and Internet modem at the old building with Mary running paperwork back and forth. That worked for a while. By Wednesday morning, Ameritech had managed to shut off our service at both places all together with the awful “Number Has Been Disconnected” recording on the line. Our apologies to any of you who may have encountered that message and suffered (rightfully so) a massive heart attack thinking that we’d fallen off the face of the earth.

Come Wednesday afternoon, it became my sole purpose in life to get our phone service restored. We kidnapped an Ameritech installer, sat him down in a chair in our new office, fed him pop & potato chips, and threatened bodily harm if he attempted to leave before our problems were resolved. (He stayed by the way, without argument, for the entire day). And I started a rotation of cell phone calls to every Ameritech supervisor and contact I could find in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and I think, Oregon. Something must have worked because by the end of the day service was finally restored on all lines with our correct numbers. I’d like to point out that we’d ordered our service to be switched months ago, with a week of overlap in service between the two locations.. Over the next couple of days we heard back from most of those Ameritech contacts, all of whom agreed that we’d suffered massive abuse that we didn’t deserve or warrant.

It kind of begs the question about the impending Y2K deadline. My bet is the airlines will keep flying, the electricity will keep flowing, the banks will keep charging interest, stores will still have stock, and your INFONETICS system won’t even burp. But don’t bother trying to call anyone. The phones will be out for sure. At least if you’re an Ameritech customer.

While all this ranting doesn’t do much good at this point, I have found it therapeutic to have hammered it all out of my system in this article. I do carry forward a distinct reminder of how important and valuable real service is in this world. And, knowing that our customers depend on our computer systems as much as they do their communications, we renew our pledge not to “pull an Ameritech” on any of our customers when it comes to trouble with their systems. And just this week one of our largest customers suffered a catastrophic failure. We were there (180 miles away), had the part replaced and back online the same day. (And all without a service contract).

As the memory of our communications switchover problems fade, we’re finding life in our new building so much better. No more stairs to drag equipment up/down all the time. We have ample room in our service and assembly areas to tackle our chores without having to setup and break down in between each job. We now have a phone system with plenty of incoming lines, actual telephones for all employees (really, Christina and Grant had to borrow someone else’s phone at the old place), and a nifty new voice mail system for those of you who prefer to leave us a detailed message rather than waiting on hold. We’ve added computer systems for our new people, and one in our shipping/receiving department just for the UPS guy! We’ve even added a new Internet Server, running the Linux Operating System, for in-house hosting of our e-mail and web services. Finally, nice new office furniture, kitchen, real restroom again, and even a conference room round out the amenities. Now if we could just get the cable modem service turned on, and everything put away, we’ll be all set! Whew!

Please consider attending our final INFOGROUP meeting of the millennium in October (registration form inside this newsletter), and get a tour of the place at the open house. We think you’ll be as proud of it as we are.

Sandwiched in between all this activity we’d like to extend a warm welcome to new customers John’s gang at Wyandotte Welding Supply in Wyandotte, MI and Allen & Pattie at Weldquip in Danville, KY as new customers.

–David J Frea