Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...


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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sign of the Times

Today, Vertafore announced to their employees the closing of the College Station site. This is the site I worked at for over 12 years before my recent departure to Corptax.

The signs of closure were evident going back weeks. Today, of course, more information comes out from different sources, and it now appears to have been in planning stages for months. This is not surprising. The decision to close a site is a long process. Logistics and planning are crucial to the success of a site closing, especially if that site also hosts a data center serving thousands of customers.

The problem is that employees may not be as forgiving about the reasons for closing. The overall point of the closure was to centralize support to fewer locations. Additionally, the Vertafore Data Center is to be moved to a third party location in Dallas. The data center move was announced in the trades via a press release. I find it interesting that the press release mentions the data center move, but not the employee job losses -- but then, that wasn't the point of the press release, was it?

Most employees have about 2 months to either relocate, if offered the option or if they ask, or take severance. Others have more time because they are part of the data center transition, scheduled to complete by May 2010. Many of those people are my friends, and have been for over 10 years. They are strong people, and good people, and deserve better than what they are getting. While that does nothing to save their jobs, it's happened too many times over the years to forgive, I think, and the inevitable has finally come to fruition.

One thing I heard today was that management made a "very difficult decision" in closing the site. I don't think it was that difficult. The College Station site has been the target of closure for years, with one instance called off when executives were in the DFW airport awaiting a flight to College Station to close the site and lay off employees in a moments notice. But the decision to close the site is one of pure financial need. Relocating the data center to a third party saves money on costs of maintaining the physical site (AC, power backup generators, UPS units), so in the middle and long term, the decision should be good financially. So to patronize the support staff with stories of how difficult the decision is, frankly, insulting. There are a lot of smart, hard working people in the College Station office, and they are smarter than that to believe it was a difficult business decision. A difficult personal decision? Yes, I believe the majority of those involved in the decision are personally hurt to do this work. Like The Don said, "It's not's only business". But there's no sense in repeating how difficult it is over and over in meetings. Please, just tell the people how long they have and let them get it over with.

One amazing thing to note -- there are easily 10 people at that site that have worked there over 20 years. One in particular just hit 39 years. She began working there when I was 2 months old. She went 27 years before taking a sick day. I wonder if she's getting what she clearly deserves after service of that caliber.

One thing I've always said is that it's not the crisis, but how you stand up to and work through that crisis, that defines you. I have no doubt my friends will prevail, overcome, and excel in their future.

So on a lighter note, maybe this video needs to be revised:

...or click here.

To my friends in College Station -- I told you I would miss you when I left, and I do miss you. I still talk to you when time permits. You hold a dear part of my heart. You were with me during 2 marriages, 2 divorces, and 4 children. You've seen me grow and change, as I have you, and I have no doubt you will overcome this setback in your lives. I want to see you at Fox and Hound this Friday night, if we can get enough together. You know where to find me.

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