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VOL. 132 | NO. 200 | Monday, October 9, 2017

Interactive Solutions CEO Prepares to Hand Reins to Son

By Andy Meek

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Jordan Myers’ business card identifies his title at Interactive Solutions Inc. as account manager for the Memphis-based audio visual and video-conference technology company.

Jay Myers is preparing to hand over the reins at his Memphis-based technology company Interactive Solutions Inc. to his son, Jordan. It's the kind of transition that didn't always seem a likely outcome, as the company weathered several major crises over the years that could have taken things in a different direction. (Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Come January 2019, though, he’s getting a new job with new responsibilities: that of CEO.

The company’s current top executive is his father, Jay Myers – a CEO who’s published two business books, is a die-hard New York Yankees fan who sees much of life through the prism of lessons learned on the baseball diamond, and the founder of ISI, which he started in 1996.

That the elder Myers is preparing to hand over the reins to his son – Jay will remain chairman of the company – is not, he stresses, a coda to his story as an entrepreneur. On the contrary, he’s not going anywhere, and “I think we still have some bright days ahead” at ISI, he says.

But it is noteworthy, because there were so many times over ISI’s now more than two-decade history where a peaceful transition like this might have seemed like the last thing in the world that was in the cards for the company. Indeed, there were times when going bust or selling the company seemed more likely.

Consider some of the adversity ISI has weathered: an employee stealing more than a quarter of a million dollars from the company; the summer when a large chunk of its sales staff resigned, which meant several million dollars in annual sales was walking out the door; the death of a key employee; or Myers learning his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.

He can recall a time, when the bad news kept piling up, when he didn’t even want to turn the lights off in his bedroom one night. Doing so would mean going to sleep, which would mean waking up to deal with whatever new bad surprise would materialize the next day.

He and the company pressed on. Employees stuck with him, and it enabled Myers to, as the title of his first book announces, “Keep Swinging.” Interactive Solutions recovered from the crises, and the lean years amid the Great Recession. He had a chance to sell the business a few years ago and ultimately passed on that option. He had a different transition in mind.

“I’ve always been intrigued by family businesses and legacy,” Myers says, before referring to his son. “We have a strong enough relationship, we can arm wrestle, but at the end of the day there’s a common goal.

“I’ve kind of taken this as far as I can take it. You do something for two decades like me – I know my strengths and weaknesses – and we think this makes sense. Jordan is an ideal fit. The people buying our stuff look more like him than me, and I’m intrigued with what he can do to add value to the business.”

The younger Myers, who’s 30 now, has been around the business and worked for it, on and off, since he was in high school. He’s worked as everything from an installer to now an account manager, and working for ISI during his younger years is how he paid for his car.

Jordan Myers went to Chicago to pursue undergraduate studies as well as to get his MBA. He came back to Memphis in September 2016 and marvels at how “Memphis has gone through such a renaissance” while he was away.

His father, meanwhile, still talks as excitedly about plans for ISI’s future as he has at almost any point talking with The Daily News the past decade. He’s thinking a lot about mentorship these days, of mentors who helped him and how he can do the same for other people who could benefit from someone who’s already been down this road.

He loves giving speeches and presentations to entrepreneurs around the country. And he’ll still be involved at ISI at a high level, once the transition occurs.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he says of the company. “We’re on the move.”

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396