Adelphia Media Services in Staunton Virginia.

T Minus Thirty

I started working for… (Should I say their name?) …Adelphia 6.3 years ago. Boy, what a welcome relief it was! Between gigs, I was selling computers for Gateway while searching for a job and was actually offered a management opportunity. But thank God for things working themselves out!
I was wonderfully happy to be in my new position and immediately started to find my groove. It was fairly simple; there were needs everywhere. We were absolutely under-resourced in everything, but coming out of radio, I was used to scrounging. Every budget year, we had to sacrifice something critical for something more critical. It’s like you’re dying from cancer, but now there’s a stroke, and then on top of it all, a heart attack. That’s how I would describe Adelphia six years ago.
Of course, I was new and naive. I thought it was cool that the company’s founders signed my paycheck and comp papers. For the first time, and because of all the gaps in disciplines, I could write my own ticket and work on my own plan. Everything I was touching seemed to be moving. But there was just too much to do and many barriers to achieving victory.
In 2002, I, along with roughly 15,000 other employees, learned why it was such a struggle. The founder and his sons, who were running the company, piled up over $2 billion in off-balance-sheet debt while robbing the company coffers. What a stunner!
I immediately engineered my mental state and started preparing myself for uncertainty. Where roots were being planted in the community, we pulled them up. We didn’t even purchase our first home. Enter new leaders determined to restore peace to the universe. Nicknamed “Rocky” and “Bullwinkle” because of their history together, we soon learned that “Marshall” and “Eisenhower” were more appropriate. Marshall ran the bankruptcy, and Ike, well, he ran the war. Where there were previous gaps in leadership, resources, direction, planning, and values, suddenly, there was funding, new people and energy, empowerment, and a great sense of team and urgency.
Not too much longer after the war of putting Adelphia back together started, I was promoted to a corporate position before ultimately being promoted a second time to VP. We were moving, getting things done. Although changing the old company culture was difficult, we made progress. There were and have been “last stands” in many corners of the company. But for the most part, the company was moving into new areas and, in a lot of cases breaking ground in places the industry wasn’t going.
The company announced over a year ago that two sisters in the industry were buying our assets. We’re now within the thirty-day window in which the final transaction will take place, or so they say. This is the time to be thankful, not to be sorrowful. Yeah, sure, we were working on some really cool shit and having fun doing it. And we’ve built a family while sharing 40+ hours a week together. But the flip side is the relationships and the learning.
I, for one, will never forget Mike, who has absolutely blossomed into one of the most complete young men I know. When Mike first came to us, he barely spoke to a soul. Now he proudly stands in the board room and confidently delivers presentations to corporate leaders. I go “Dick Vermeil” when I think of how much he has grown.
Betty is one of the most wonderful women I know. Not only is she extremely dedicated to her job, but manages a very active home life. She is a pro gardener and seamstress. When she isn’t volunteering her time for some local cause, she is constantly teaching herself new traits. I don’t see how she does everything, but I do know we’ve been very fortunate to have her with us for over ten years.
And there are those that have left us already. Without Timmay, we would never have built the web assets to support our marketing and business strategy. He’s a poor fantasy football player, but we miss his music. Julie was with us for only one year. But boy, did she leave her mark! She launched our new ad product like only a Texan rustlin’ a steer can do. I don’t know if I’ll ever make a better hire for the rest of my career.
Of course, there’s “thank God my name’s not Frank.” I think I’ve learned more from him than anyone else since leaving my grandparent’s farm many years ago. Although we don’t get together outside of work as often as we would like, I know I can count on him for just about anything, just as I would a brother.
The first person I interviewed back in 1999 was Jack. It was at Erways Restaurant in Coudersport, and it was cold. I thought I was interviewing for a consumer marketing job. About halfway through breakfast, I realized that it was ad sales marketing. I don’t see how Jack saw any value in me after botching that interview. Six years later, I’m forever grateful for the support and trust he has placed in me to get things done. I wouldn’t have had this ride if it weren’t for him.
Although not all of us will move on with the buyers, 100% of us will land somewhere, and we’ll all be better people for the times we spent together. Yep, it’s a time to be thankful and joyous. No group of people anywhere has risen above so much adversity in business today. Our experiences, those accomplishments, and disappointments have prepared us to move forward. We’ll never forget what we achieved as a group.Sorry Comcast and Time Warner, the memories still belong to us.

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