Tech Solutions for Northeastern Indiana Since 1980
Written by former owner Lee J. Nisley
In 1979, after fulfilling my four year commitment with the Air Force, I came back home to Goshen. I quickly found a job at an Elkhart company called Action Telephone, who mainly worked on intercom systems. The business was changing because of the deregulation of telephone companies, which allowed customers to now purchase their own telephone systems instead of renting them from their line providers. With my education from the Air Force in electronics, I was able to quickly catch on to how to maintain and install telephone and intercom systems, and was the lead tech for 9 years.
In 1984 Action Telephone was sold to a CPA who had no knowledge of our industry. At first it looked promising as the sales went up, but 5 years later, the company went under. It was early March of 1989 and I now found myself out of a job without any warning.
On March 20th of 1989 I incorporated TeleData. At that time, telephone systems were a strong and growing market, but data cabling was mixed. Most small companies had no data needs, while larger companies running mainframe computers with terminals needed cabling that had to match the technology they were using. Coax and twinax were the main cable types of the time, but I was sure it would change and become a larger market; so I named the company for both telephones and data cable. It still amazes me that I was able to start my own company with a loan for a service truck of six thousand dollars and another loan for a thousand dollars to buy tools and startup supplies. Today, just one cable certification meter (which is a required tool) costs more than those two starting loans combined!
Through the years we hired employees and added to the services we offered, always attempting to “be ahead of the curve” on technology. A couple of economic downturns had their effect, with the largest being the 2008 recession. However, good loyal customers, employees, vendors and banks kept us going.
Now in 2018, I look back at my first telephone system install in 1980 that had rotary dial phone sets and so few features that all the phone set functions could be tested in under 1 minute and compare that to today’s VoIP systems that can, effectively, never be fully tested for every feature under all conditions and I marvel at how far it’s come. Although I have a good feel for where the industry is going (say cloud, cloud, cloud) I still wonder what it will look like in 10 years.
It was a big decision to sell TeleData, but the time was right in May of 2018 even though I really wanted to wait until 2019 so it would be an even 30 years. As we worked out of the 2008 crash, every part of the company came back stronger, and by 2017 we were breaking all our previous records. Letting the word out and working through some details with a couple of prospects helped me understand who I was looking for to sell the company to. Although I was looking, Wes Miller actually found me, and I was sure it was a perfect fit. I knew from the Action Telephone sale that the new owner of TeleData had to be someone who knew the industry, had the work ethic and the same moral attitude that made the company what it had become.
In Business Since
Number of Employees
TeleData was built on a can do, know what to do and honest practices attitude, and needed to stay with those same basics, but was missing the next big leap: motivation. I, like many others, had a hold-back mentality from the 2008 crash and the speed of technology changes discouraged me more than excited me. I have no formal education in IT or phones but I was able to learn a lot starting at the ground floor. The first P.C. we used at Action Telephone was a 286 DOS machine with a hard-wired serial port. Although that formal education can be hired, going that route exclusively seemed to me, to be another Action Telephone mistake. If the owner doesn’t know every aspect of the business then it points to failure from that point of view.
My faith that Wes, with his son Micah, can continue TeleData is assured by: keeping the TeleData name as a dba, IT knowledge with experience, excitement for growth and new tech and their willingness to honor all existing warranties and service contracts. I really believe TeleData is poised to continue its path for another 29 years but with larger growth and into new technology!