How a bad buyout killed a good company

A techie helps expand a business, then can only watch as new owners' mismanagement runs the firm into the ground

A satisfying IT job that directly contributes to a company's growth is certainly one to hold onto. But all too often business decisions beyond IT's control can kill a good organization and drive off faithful employees. I witnessed a maddening example of this tragedy early in my career, when I was hired to help a small computer firm expand its PC business.

Our main tasks were to attract corporate customers and grow the service offerings. Working closely with the director of operations, I recommended we start with the basics, such as a PC staging area where we could customize both hardware and software for customers. Soon this workflow was running smoothly, and we moved on to other changes.

[ Some are bad habits to overcome; some are poor decisions forced by managers who don't know what they're doing. Here are the 10 practices of highly inefficient software developers. | Follow InfoWorld's Off the Record on Twitter for tech's war stories, career takes, and off-the-wall news. | Subscribe to the Off the Record newsletter for your weekly dose of workplace shenanigans. ]

Off the Record submissions

To increase the service side of the business, we hired new techs and made sure all of them were at least A+ certified, with additional certifications from the manufacturers of the brands we sold. This part took a bit longer to work out than expected, but we proceeded slowly to make sure all was operating well.

As we continued to expand, we started to not only do repairs in-house, but also made onsite visits for customers who were willing to pay a bit more. We found that onsite calls could generate a lot of revenue without that much overhead, so we focused even more on our field support services. The number of techs eventually doubled.

By this point, two years had passed. Eventually I convinced the director of operations to boost the training of our techs so that we would have a few systems engineers. That way we'd have personnel to handle higher-level IT problems. This move, too, paid off quickly.

After another year, we were doing superb and our revenue tripled. We kept our field service overhead low, which continued to be the main source of profit. Customers were loyal, and we kept adding more companies to our list.

I eventually became the lead tech, and I felt like -- and was told -- that I was making great contributions to the company. The senior managers valued the employees, which led to a high level of satisfaction among the ranks. Things couldn't get any better for a tech job.

Of course, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

1 2 Page 1