I was born in the suburbs of Detroit where I still reside today. This website is for documenting my musings and random interests and for anyone curious who I am.
My adventure started with 128 bytes RAM, 4 kB ROM on the Atari 2600. I spent many hours playing games on this system losing myself in this simple 8-bit world. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up which gave me plenty of time to get really high scores on games like Chopper Command, PacMan, Vangaurd and many other 2600 games.
I have always been interested in all things electronic and mechanical. Even today I want to know how everything works. One of my prized childhood possession that helped me explore the electronics world this was the “160 in ONE” electronics project kits from Radio Shack. It came with a book and I did every project in the book and made notes with the projects I had come up with on my own. My parents would offer to take me to Toys R Us for my birthday but I always wanted to go to Radio Shack instead. This is when my parents realized I was not like the other children…
My life was forever changed when I got my first computer, the Tandy TRS-80. My parents had picked it up on clearance at Radio Shack It opened up a whole new world for me of programming and coming up with ideas and I was hooked right from the start. These systems came with the BASIC programming language and a book that showed you how to create programs. It was great! I started getting magazines and publications so I could find more programs, write games and spend hours learning how it all worked.
I did not get into the IBM world of computers until I took a PASCAL computer class in the 10th grade back in 1992 and another computer classes in 1993 where I learned some COBOL and how Unix systems worked. These early days of computing are what convinced me that I needed a career in the technology world.
Right out of high school in 1995 landed a job at a small computer company that mostly did sales and service for the retail market. I bounced around a few small tech companies which eventually lead me to meet the president of a small transportation company in 1998, where I was hired as a junior sysadmin. The company grew rapidly from being a small transportation company to a large midwest carrier hauling JIT deliveries for the Ford supplier network. The IT manager that I reported to had left due to medical and personal reasons and I was promoted to head of IT. With a 1.1 million dollar department budget and lots of free reign to put ideas together the fun began! I spent a lot of time analyzing the massive amounts of data that was collected on our IBM RS6000 and started working ways to make the company more efficient with that data.
Here are some of the major projects that came out of that
- Auto Arrival system based on truck Qualcom GPS system that sent emails to related suppliers if ETA was outside of parameters
- An automated DOT compliance tool that used GPS data to report exceptions of drivers that were over DOT hours.
- Calculating fleet idle times via GPS data to get refunds on fuel road taxes
- Fuzzy logic system to look for variations in the bill of lading information based on other bills of lading entries for the same location which reduced errors from typos
- Daily fuel purchases were analyzed to calculate per truck efficiency and flag them (which led to catching drivers stealing fuel)
The final big project that I worked on was an efficiency system that auto-aligned load systems with drivers based on geographic location and driver availability which factored in data from the previously mentioned projects. This was a big project and the company along with a grant writer applied for a national science foundation grant that made it to the final round but did not get approved. We did the project anyway with internal funding.
Launching a Business
In 2003 the company I was working for was having some issues, the kind of issues that caused the company to liquidate some assets break up into smaller companies. I took this as an opportunity to launch my own company. I blindly went out on my own and said to myself, “How hard could this be?”
As it turns out, technical skills did not automatically translate into business skills. I had to do a lot of learning about marketing, business, how to talk to customers and how to find clients. One of my first mistakes was naming my company based on my last name which to this day still causes some brand confusion but it has worked out overall.
Now I did not start out with some SBA loan, bank loan, or some venture capital. I started out with cold calling, cold emailing and knocking on companies doors. And when all of those failed to make enough money to pay my bills I started coming up with side hustles such as selling cars, photography, graphic design work or any other side jobs to keep my going. The photography jobs turned into a passion and brought me to being a wedding photographer for a number of years. I have since retired from being a wedding photographer, but I still do photos from time to time.
As of right now, in 2017 my company Lawrence Systems employs seven people and affords me and my family a happy life. While doing side hustles is still fun, I spent most of my time focusing on my business and the projects we do, building my public speaking career and YouTube channel.
I got married young, it did not work out but I have two great kids that came out of it. My ex-wife and I still get along well and we share 50/50 custody of the kids. I hear so many people that have bitter divorces and the kids are used as pawns in a game of pettiness with each side taking digs at the other, I am happy to say that is not how things are for us, we all attend events together and discuss issues with the kids like any other family, and the kids are very aware that we all communicate. I have been married to my wonderful wife Kass since 2011 and life is good! 🙂