VOL. 131 | NO. 33 | Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Interactive Solutions Inc. Prepares to Celebrate 20 Years
By Andy Meek
Anniversaries can be perfunctory milestones in the life of a business, mile markers along the road to longevity that represent a cause for reflection on the past and future.
Jay Myers is preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary in a few weeks of Interactive Solutions Inc., the videoconference technology company he founded in 1996 and successfully led through a handful of existential crises along the way.
(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)
There’s a simple reason why for Jay Myers, preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his videoconference technology company Interactive Solutions Inc., the milestone he’ll be celebrating is more momentous than that.
He didn’t start his Memphis-based technology company in 1996 with an assumption that success was assured or things would be easy. But there were plenty of crises along the way - the day he found out an employee was stealing from the company; the summer a chunk of sales staff resigned, a big blow to ISI’s income; the death of an employee; his wife’s breast cancer - that set the company back on its heels.
And not just the company. Myers, a die-hard New York Yankees fan whose books about his business are packed with baseball metaphors, was at one point so rattled by the string of bad news for ISI he was scared to turn off the lights at night to go to sleep, worried about what the next day might bring.
All of which is to say, Myers is counting his blessings as his 44-person-strong company gets set to enjoy an anniversary bash in a few weeks, on March 11.
“It’s been an incredible journey building Interactive Solutions into the business it is today,” Myers said, with a nod of thanks to the employees, business partners and clients who’ve been a part of the story along the way.
Since 2001, his company - which just remodeled its office - has been located at 3860 Forest Hill-Irene Road, where the new look is built around things like collaboration and team stations. Sales, design and programming departments are now in close proximity, unlike the opposite sides of the building they occupied before.
“That’s working very well,” Myers said. “And over the past few years, we’ve put more focus on our customer support service - because of eroding hardware margins - and continue to grow our health care/telemedicine business nationwide.”
To be sure, it’s been a hard-fought road to get to this point, one that’s meant ISI having to overcome misfortunes like the day the company discovered an employee had stolen more than $257,000.
“It’s been an incredible journey building Interactive Solutions into the business it is today.”
It was but one in a string of trial-by-fire moments that tested Myers’ leadership and the resiliency of his company. For a taste of what was still to come, when ISI had to fight its way through the Great Recession, consider the title of Chapter 1 in Myers’ latest book, “Hitting the Curve Balls” - “The Summer From Hell.”
Other challenges included, as the recession was beginning to materialize, several employee departures that had the double punch of meaning more than $9 million in annual sales revenue was walking out the door.
Myers reiterates that his approach through all of that and more is not unlike the ballplayers whose game inspires much of his attitude toward life and business.
Plant your feet, keep your eye on the ball and don’t get rattled.
“With creativity, resilience and tenacity,” he writes at the end of 2014’s “Hitting the Curve Balls,” “we hit all the curveballs that had come our way and ultimately used crisis to not only strengthen but also grow our company like never before.”