My perspective on the evolution of OmniTI is somewhat like that of a mechanic on a team of race car designers. As the company changes and becomes more sophisticated, my job has been and still is to ensure we have all the necessary parts to accommodate those changes and that they are incorporated into the new design. So while the techies are customizing the machine (the glamorous part of the job), I am busy working under the hood. So what changes have taken place over the years to keep the OmniTI racing machine on the track and way out in front?

In the beginning our headquarters was located in Theo's house. It was very nice but small. We built out a secure data room there in order to satisfy the security requirements of one of our clients. It had plexiglass windows, rack space and a 200-pound metal door. We personally did the build out which was an onerous job, to say the least! It seems mind boggling to think that we now manage thousands of machines in datacenters all around the globe. From that office we upgraded to a suite of three executive offices in Calverton, Maryland. While staying there we located unfinished office space in Columbia and designed it to accommodate our particular work requirements. We were growing fast and needed office space for our additional staff as well as for meeting with clients.

We started with two people and within three years grew to a staff of four. Our clients required services and support 24/7 so the days were long, as were the nights. Holidays, weekends and vacations were commonly workdays, and working into the wee hours of the morning after a full workday was the norm. The work scaled with the increase of staff from 2 to 4 people, so the workload remained the same across the board. Then we reached a point where we were in complete overload. At that point the engine needed overhauling and refitting to stay in the race. So we interviewed and hired 4 new staff - 3 developers and 1 system administrator. This was a major redesign.

The addition of new staff meant we had to make some serious changes to the shop. We needed an HR department and benefits package that would be both attractive and competitive with other companies -- yet another upgrade. We also had to have a more comprehensive employment contract and that meant having a labor lawyer to advise us. This was in addition to the corporate counsel who helped us craft our client contracts. The pit crew was growing!

After the move to the new site in Columbia, we immediately increased the size of the team. Before we knew it we were fifteen strong and still growing. During this time we formally defined our product initiatives Ecelerity, Postal Engine and MultiVIP and then proceeded to trademark them. We also began to do business as a separate entity called Message Systems. Now we had two race cars on the track!

As the staff grew we began to understand how instrumental our culture was to our success and started to truly nurture it. This was and remains a unique work atmosphere that permeates the operations of the entire workforce. What exactly is the OmniTI culture? Ask ten people on staff and you probably will get ten different answers. I, on the other hand, have been part of that culture from the get-go and can tell you that, however it is defined, it is the heart and soul of OmniTI and the fuel that feeds the machine. The culture is derived from work principals that were instilled at OmniTI's inception. These include providing quality services to meet clients' needs as the number one priority; standing behind our work and being accountable for our mistakes; being passionate about our work; and using mindshare and brainstorming as working tools. Our office is designed specifically to enable and encourage this sort of interactive environment. As a result, the OmniTI culture has attracted some of the best and the brightest in the industry.

After the Columbia office came a second larger Columbia office, and an office down under the Manhattan Bridge (DUMBO) in Brooklyn, New York. We currently have a staff of 7 working in that office.

What about the crew you may ask? Over the years we have been fortunate to have a diverse staff representing a collection of ethnic and cultural backgrounds for which we are all richer. And our team has had many sponsors including trade associations, private industry, not-for-profits, political organizations, and government to name a few. As we zoom around the race track we also take time for the occasional pit stop by having pizza every Thursday, spring cookouts (with serious volley ball games), summer picnics and awesome holiday parties!

So as our race cars become more and more sophisticated they continue to require constant attention to maintain all the working parts. Each day brings new adjustments to the engines and frameworks to keep the motors fine-tuned and the goings smooth.

I'll take this opportunity to share some helpful hints with the other mechanics out there:

  1. Stay organized and, despite this digital age, keep hard copies of everything.
  2. Retain legal counsel that understands your business and earns your trust.
  3. Set deadlines for everything.
  4. If you are going to do something, always take the time to understand how to do it right. If you don't have time to execute it right, take the time to document the corners you cut and how that is likely to bite you later.