Practicing “Success With Significance” for 25 Years

Posted by Eric Suder, Founder and Chairman

November 9, 2012; 11:00 AM

Volunteerism and philanthropy are the cornerstones of what makes ESI a constant trendsetter in the telecommunications space. ESI operates like clockwork because employees and resellers learn to work together and think creatively to improve the community and raise money for those in need. These skills are then transferred to the workplace.

Eric Suder, Founder and Chairman, ESIThe goal of volunteerism is to find a solution to a community’s most pressing needs. Little did I know that the skills I gained when starting ESI in my garage would suit me well in my philanthropic endeavor. I founded ESI because I wanted to make a difference in helping small businesses grow.

I was able to develop a product in response to small business needs from the ground up — in the first instance, a small PBX and voice mail system. I embarked on a grassroots effort to sell this innovative phone system, using my product marketing, development, and sales experience to successfully and gradually grow ESI. After this initial taste of success, I built a small team that shared the same passion for building telephone systems. We worked late into the night in a never-ending quest to build new products and become an emerging force in the telecommunications industry. Our unadulterated passion for developing telephone solutions for our market helped us overcome challenges that we encountered.

Our reputation was built on our responsiveness to the small business market. We were able to scale down voice mail systems which, at the time, were huge and only for the largest companies. We answered a need in the marketplace and built a one-box solution. Even when we introduced a product, we always kept in mind that technology is constantly changing, and we extended a product’s life cycle by making compatible next-generation products. This attitude has driven us for 25 years.

ESI’s ability to constantly innovate and develop products that cater to small businesses is possible because we are completely self-funded. This is a particular point of pride for the company. Since we do not have to answer to outside investors, we can concentrate on providing unique products and retain engineers who have the freedom to innovate on a timetable for developing the best possible products we can put on the market, rather than having to work on an outside investor’s timeline. It is impossible to overstate how proud I am of the fact that this independence has led to the development of 12 patents.

A company is more than its products. What makes a company special is its employees and culture. My proudest accomplishment at ESI is creating a culture with unparalleled employee loyalty and camaraderie. This deep sense of loyalty would not exist without the program we established 15 years ago that encouraged the company to give back to our community. I was inspired to introduce philanthropy to ESI because I believed we could use our employees’ business talents to help change the world. We recognized that we could make a greater impact in the world by working with non-profits along with developing phone systems. We embraced this new philosophy and even changed our company mission statement to include the phrase “practice success with significance.”

We have participated on dozens of projects, beginning with establishing a disaster relief fund related to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then, we have harnessed our company and Resellers’ desire to help others, by establishing the ESI Humanitarian Relief Fund in response to large-scale disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Bangladesh cyclone, and the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Our world-wide philanthropic efforts that began with tsunami relief expanded into many other local efforts as well, including the establishment of a Santa Fund, donations to the local food bank, Habitat for Humanity builds, and a mentorship program for middle-school students. Our volunteerism helps define us internally. Instead of just working side by side, everyone at ESI is part of one big family, devoid of the backbiting and politicking that all too often plagues the workplace. This mutual respect that stems from volunteering gives everyone a deeper sense of accomplishment and company loyalty that has all but vanished in today’s culture. We are also proud to include our Resellers in our community initiatives, increasing the size of our ESI family. We recognize that the Resellers who are interested in helping us give back to the community are also those who share the same commitment to superior customer service.

ESI is in the midst of its most challenging and exciting period. Change is much more dynamic than it was just 10 years ago, when there was much less Internet traffic and there were few mobile devices. The rapid advancement in technology that we’ve been seeing will remain unabated in the future. Developing our products in response to our market would not be possible without the ESI employees and Resellers who have remained loyal to us throughout the years.

Cheers to the next 25 years!

Topics: Success with significance