21 July 2023

Office Automation: Time to Wonder...

It was located near the corner of Red Hill Avenue and Bell Avenue in Tustin, California and our ground floor offices were complete. We were the first tenant in this new modern business park.

You could never miss it driving down Red Hill, as our view across the road was the massive Tustin Blimp Hangar #1 in the near distance, today a historical landmark.

As a newly promoted Orange County District Manager, now after several years with a territory of high rise office buildings off Wilshire Blvd. in West Los Angeles, it was a great arena of new career opportunity in a growing business segment of the “Office Automation” industry.

Just inside the front door of the office we had our greeting desk and waiting area, our demo room was just to the left, and then straight ahead was a hallway door that led to the sales “Bull Pen” and to the rear of the building.

This is where our company service technicians area and our other tech support offices were located near a rear entrance.

It also included space for our growing high technology innovation business, to add dozens of new sales and support employees to serve the growing business areas in Orange County of Irvine, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa.

Within the year, we would soon come to hear the merger news of our national company Lanier being acquired. Harris Corporation of Melbourne, FL was our new owner and we were now on a rapid strategy to compete with Wang and new competitors in the growing “Office Automation” industry. By the start of the 1990's, Lanier accounted for about 1/3 of Harris Corporation's revenues.

What is that? Office Automation?

You know, the beginning of the IBM PC LAN networking of Word Perfect Word Processing, Lotus 1-2-3 and dBASE.

The lawyers, insurance companies, defense industrial base juggernauts such as Northrop, McDonnell Douglas and the financial services business community had also discovered other tech innovation to eliminate the historical secretarial typing pools and even the fax machine.

It was named Novell NetWare.

"At its high point, NetWare had a 63 percent share of the market for network operating systems and by the early 1990s there were over half a million NetWare-based networks installed worldwide"…

Imagine what is was like for our Sales, Support and Tech personnel in those days. So busy and so incredible. Even our “Happy Hours” off PCH at the “Rusty Pelican” were epic!

So what!

Well, those were the days of true business innovation.

Our Monday Morning Sales Meetings were at 8:00AM sharp, and then at 8:30AM our 1-1, 15 min sessions followed behind closed doors with each Sales Rep, to discuss their next weeks priorities and last weeks activity. See you next Monday!

Our Sales Reps were working on a straight commission and for their first 60 days their compensation was a draw against any monthly commissions earned. If you were in the “Hole” after 30 days, you were put on a Performance-Improvement-Plan (PIP). If you were still not meeting your sales quota in 60 days, you were fired.

When you have experienced any dialogue with an employee to notify them that this Monday will be their last day, it is never comfortable and always emotional.

Even after 20 or 30 notice meetings over the forthcoming years as a District and Regional Manager, helping another tear filled sales rep carry their “Bankers Box” to the parking lot next to that active Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (ICAO), it was never routine. Helicopters and the roar of jets were always in the background.

So many of these same dedicated people, went forward in their work careers to other competitors and excelled in their jobs. Maybe it was just meant to be.

When one career door closes and then another one opens before you, take a minute to smile. And Wonder.

Within a few more years and some other career moves in the OC, our own family was packing up our San Clemente house. Mom had a wonderful opportunity back East and with our 6 year old Daughter and 5 year old Son, we told them we were leaving their friends in their Capistrano Unified School District and headed to the Langley School District along the Potomac River in Northern Virginia. We witnessed even more small tears that day.

Soon thereafter, walking through the thick woods and along the dirt horse trails near our home one sunny September Saturday, with the sound of the “Great Falls” in our ears, little did we all know what was soon to launch on the global technology horizon.


"Marc Andreessen, the leader of the team that developed Mosaic, left NCSA and, with James H. Clark, one of the founders of Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI), and four other former students and staff of the University of Illinois, started Mosaic Communications Corporation. Mosaic Communications eventually became Netscape Communications Corporation, producing Netscape Navigator."

Now it was time to truly Wonder…

No comments:

Post a Comment