Today marks a milestone in the history of our company.
On May 1st, 2003, we incorporated and together with my original partner, Glen MacDonald, we started operating as HighVail Systems; building a business and a legacy that has truly endured the test of time. Looking back on the last 17 years, we have seen many ups and downs, faced adversity and prevailed. Through it all, we’ve continued to flourish and evolve. However, none of that could ever have prepared us for what the entire world is facing right now. The physical, emotional and economic hardships we have all been exposed to since the COVID-19 pandemic began are something none of us has ever seen or coped with before. And, as we all know, it’s certainly not over yet. The changes in our everyday lives will live on well beyond any return to the “new normal” that will emerge over the next few months and years.
At HighVail, engrained in our core values is the goal of always ensuring the safety and well-being of our families and each other. We continue to support our clients and partners and are always available for them and our co-workers. We’re one of the fortunate ones in that we are able to continue to operate as normal, albeit remotely, with our full team. But during these unprecedented times, I recognize the need to be mindful of those things that we might not otherwise emphasize prior to the pandemic.
On the day we start our 18th year of operations, I think back to when we started the company and our early years of operation. You may ask why I say our 18th year versus our 17th anniversary, and that is because the number 18 has great meaning to it. On a spiritual note, 18 represents life in Hebrew and has great meaning in Judaism (for those that have seen Fiddler on the Roof, think of the song “To Life, To Life, L’Chaim”). And on a personal note, Chai (which is 18 in Hebrew) and the number 18 both have great meaning for me. My late father and my son are both named Chaim in Hebrew, and my son was born on the 18th. All of this to say that renewal, opportunity and life are very much front of mind as we reach this milestone and live through the current crisis. And, as I’ll describe further in the next paragraph, HighVail was created and grew out of several early challenges that led to great opportunity. I can personally draw on many parallels to the early years of HighVail as we look ahead to life and our daily business coming out of the pandemic.
Back in late October of 2002, I started a new sales job after having been a “hired gun” salesperson for the previous 8 months. Reality is, I needed a more stable career and medical benefits for our family after being let go from an 8-year stint at a previous job earlier that year. Desperation and need drive all kinds of behaviour, and when you mix that with fear and uncertainty, it can be devastating. I had no intention of allowing that to happen, but I also had a greater long-term goal that I refused to lose sight of. Unfortunately, after 4 months in the new job, the parent company decided to close the operation. After two weeks of instability, I was asked to assist in closing the current operation and given the freedom to continue it as my own under a different name. So, with all these challenges came great opportunity, which begat HighVail and a future doing what I’d wanted to do all along: create a new business that really valued the team versus the individual. As any good salesperson would do, I had established relationships with new clients and there was business opportunity in the funnel. That allowed us to secure the supplier relationships necessary to deliver the technology and with Glen’s technical skill, we could deliver the solution. It was a simple model where we became the glue for the various hardware and software components, sticking to that as we grew and evolved over the years.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself, where’s the parallel to the current situation? Well, it’s really in how adversity and hardship bring new perspective, hope and opportunities. We all have an opportunity to use these situations to highlight what we’re grateful for, and to look for those new opportunities to turn hope into reality. When I was let go from my job at the beginning of 2002, the world had just changed as result of 9/11. Many people draw parallels between that time and now; how we were locked down, certainly not in the way the world is right now, but there are multiple similarities. But again, transpiring from that change came great hope and eventually great prosperity and the advancement of those technologies that are allowing us to continue our daily lives especially right now. Without the growth of the internet, Cloud computing and high-speed networks, we would not have been able to sustain the portion of the economy as we do with video conferencing and collaboration tools. At HighVail, our weekly virtual happy hour on Fridays happens because of those tools. Email, cloud-based storage, software as a service, collaboration tools (including video conferencing), etc., is what keeps our economy rolling, but what about the rest of the world? Thanks to some incredible platforms for education, our children, from JK through post graduate school, are all able to keep up with their academic needs and pursuits. And the same is true on the personal side. We have regular video chats with friends as do many of you. None of this can ever replace social and personal interaction with others. The psychological and emotional effects of that are what we need to be both mindful of and prepared to deal with if we’re not already. We must also be conscious of the fact that until there’s not only a reliable treatment, but an actual effective vaccine against COVID-19, a fear of the unknown will always be present in people’s minds. We’ll continue to social distance, avoid large gatherings, including life events, both happy and sad.
So, after 17 years in business (and almost 60 years on this planet), what can I really say beyond quoting Monty Python with “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”, because in every challenge lies opportunity. And that opportunity may be related to improving the world we live in, being a better person or any positive outcome, large or small, that you can bring to society. The glass is always half full, don’t sweat the small stuff, tomorrow is another day, etc. All are great expressions if you believe and follow them. Be grateful and know that we’re all in this together!
Be well, stay healthy and keep safe.
Glen and I along with Krys, in the early days
For 17 years we have been proud to be your trusted IT partner & advisor.