After 1.5M+ Air Miles, I Took Control

I have been in technology since 1983, actually working, since 1983.  I was into technology and programming well before that, but when I count the years I have been in the industry I start in 1983. I was selling computers at a store called, ComputerLand, Store #11.

Arlington Heights, IL — Store #11

I was fairly young, but the sales manager took a chance on me because he said he saw “something special” in me. He did tell me to be prepared for mild success, as “you’ll work the sales floor and greet customers coming into the retail space.” I had heard the other sales reps talk about “corporate accounts”, so I asked him about those “corporate accounts” and he said, “oh, you’ll never get one of those. Just work the floor and we’ll pay you $50/week draw against commission.”

I was 16 years old, and I was determined to make more than $50/week and land a “corporate account”. When I showed up for work, I showed up to work. I was dressed in a sport coat, slacks, dress shirt, and a tie. It didn’t matter if it was a Saturday or weekday afternoons, I was establishing my brand, who I am, and how I operate.

Weeks and weeks passed, I had just turned 17, with fancy new business cards that had my name printed on them, David A. Chapa, Sales Executive. All of my friends at the time called me Dave, and I had no problem with that at all, but in business, I wanted to be David.  Again, it was the brand I was establishing for myself. One Saturday late morning, I greeted a man who walked into ComputerLand and asked him how I could help him. He asked about the Compaq Portable computers.

Compaq Portable, Dual Floppy Drives

He told me he worked for an accounting firm and he needed a couple for his accountants. That sounded very reasonable to me, especially since I have talked with a number of CPAs who have come to the store to buy a couple of new PCs for their offices. I told him that I could work up a quote if he wanted to take a seat while I asked some more questions about the applications he intended to use, etc., to which he agreed. After a quick qualifying meeting with him, I was able to put together a fairly compelling quote for three PCs, including the Lotus 1–2–3 software that would meet his expectations.

Box from the 80s and early 90s

He took a look at it, nodded his head and returned it to me, and said, “What can you do on price if I agree to purchase 250 units, followed by another order of 250 units six months later?” I looked at him a bit stunned and said, “you want me to change the quantities of this exact configuration from a quantity of 3 to a quantity of 250?” He said yes, and I said, that I’ll have to work with my Sales Manager on those numbers. We exchanged business cards.

Ernst & Ernst changed names to Ernst & Whinney in 1979

I had just spent the last 90 minutes talking to the controller for the firm who had all purchasing decision making power. I, very professionally, thanked him and asked if I could get back to him before noon on Monday, to which he agreed.

Long story short, I closed that corporate account, Ernst & Whinney, one of the Big 8 accounting firms. I also was making well over the $50/week I was promised and as a result of that order was named, Top Salesperson in the Midwest.

Receiving my bonus and award for Top Salesman in Midwest.  I was 17 years old in this picture.

A big bonus, certificate, notoriety, and a case of wine came with the award. My boss kept the wine since I was underage, but I kept the cash and added this to my brand.

My path had been cleared, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and had a good sense of the direction I wanted to take my career. At a time when my friends were convincing their parents to buy them a new used car, I was at the Chevy dealership picking out which IROC-Z I wanted. This was the life.

Fast forward 35 years, over 1.5M airline miles, countless hotel points, and other loyalty points, I have decided to leave the corporate life and focus on the things I enjoy the most, first and foremost, my family, followed by, thought leadership, emerging technologies, data protection, disaster recovery, business resumption strategies, and helping customers wade through the mire of information to help discover new and creative ways to leverage technology and create real business value.

Formed in 2016, we re-launched the company in 2018

I have worked in data protection for the majority of my professional life. Either I was a hands-on system administrator managing backup and disaster recovery, or I was working for a manufacturer who had a solution in this space. I never worked for a company I felt I couldn’t put my brand behind.

What I enjoy about what I do is working with both the customers who are using data solutions and the vendors who are creating these great solutions. We are both a consulting and enablement arm for the customer and a boutique analyst firm for the vendors. We assist with the strategy from both ends of the spectrum.

From the customer end, I am focusing on the business they are trying to protect, not just the data. I get to help IT leaders change the way they communicate to the board, their leadership, and to their own team and help up-level everyone’s game in the process. I have a team of DR specialists who know how to facilitate a business impact analysis workshop to discover the critical elements of the business, who can then help the team create the strategy, and ultimately deliver an actionable DR plan to the table. This is so critically important, but the companies I worked for in the past didn’t focus on this because it was not their business, they were in the business of selling data protection software, not building business-centric strategies, but I get to partner with them now as I am focused on this initiative.

So now, my company and my team get to stand in the gap for our customers between their desired outcomes and the challenges they face from a business resumption perspective.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact us, I think you’ll be happy that you did.

David Chapa, http://www.TheCTEGroup.net

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