The Blog

We Value All People: The Gina Donnelly Theising Story

Core Values Series: This is the fourth of an eight part series
highlighting the backstories to our core values

It has been a joy living in four very distinct places in my life. The first 18 years in Indiana. 4 in Los Angeles. 8 in Atlanta. And going on 7 in St. Petersburg, FL. More than living in these places, it has been a privilege working with some amazing people.

Starting my own company was always on my radar. Because of that, I maintained a list of people that are first and foremost great people, but also excel at some area that my future company may need.

One of those was Gina Donnelly Theising.

She was the Associate Director of Chapel Programs at Azusa Pacific University. She was so good at what a lot of people aren't good at: office administration. She did that relatively unsexy job with such joy and love that just permeated through the entire office contagiously.

The timing to start my own company was very much a struggle for me. I'd say I really wrestled with it for about two years. The time came in June of 2019 when I finally accepted it was time to leave the best job I ever had and start Vy Technology.

Like every year, I was planning on spending the 4th of July with my family up at the lake in Coldwater, Michigan. So I said, "I think I know where I stand on this, but I am going to take that week just to clear my head before I do what I need to do."

In the middle of that week I got a message that Gina died at 47 years old in an ATV accident.

This world can be tough sometimes. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. That's a conversation for another day. If this were a just and fair world, probably everyone reading this blog should have gone before Gina. She just loved everyone. She saw the value in everyone.

When I went to her funeral a few weeks later, I was awe struck how many people were there. I thought I knew the people who knew her. If I were to guess, the large Catholic Church in Simi Valley, CA had about 100 pews. They were all full. But the people I knew maybe took up 5 of those pews. It was then I realized just how big of an impact she had. That was all because of how much she loved.

She was always the first one there for anything. She would sign up for the marathon you wanted to run. She'd go hiking if you wanted to go hiking. She had a zeal for life and that zeal always involved others.

I am sure she had her selfish moments. Though from the outside that was not evident. She just loved and valued people the way God loved and valued people. We want to be a culture where we value all people the way Gina valued all people.

Thank you, Gina Donnelly Theising. We will strive to be like you.
We Pursue Margin: The Ray Neslund Core Value Story

Core Values Series: This is the third of an eight part series
highlighting the backstories to our core values

My grandfather Ray Neslund was an astonishing man. He spent most of his childhood in Stockholm, Sweden. Immigrated to a very poor side of Chicago. There are parts of his childhood that he wouldn't share. You can just tell that things were not good.

One of the things we do know is that he lied about his age to go fight in World War II. At 17 years old he traversed the Atlantic dodging German U-boats. Even back then, 17 year olds wouldn't volunteer for that type of operation if things were good at home.

He never went to college. He came back from World War II and after some time he started the Manpower franchise for Denver, Colorado.

It wasn't until I co-led a massive FEMA emergency meal operation in 2017 that I learned a nuance of Grandpa's business. Within that project, we had to employ 700 temporary employees. Even though we employed temps every day in our normal operation, there is something to be said about needing 700 temps as quickly as we needed them.

We had a very small break between Hurricane Irma production and Hurricane Maria production. In that small amount of time, another executive and I debriefed and we said that most went fairly well, but one thing that needed to change was how we checked in temps. In a matter of two days and a budget of $40, I developed a digital check-in system that could most easily be described as an airline boarding process. This took the temp check in process down from 2 hours to 15 minutes, and from requiring 10 people to 2.

Later I was sharing this story with a family member who said, "your Grandfather would have loved to have seen that." I was a bit surprised because I was always under the impression that his business employed more office temps than blue collar temps.

My uncle said "ohh no, he made his name in Denver with blue collar temps because he created a niche where he would pay them the same day they worked. This enabled him to get the best temp employees in the Denver market."

Grandpa of course did very well in business (with no formal education). He had built a lot of profit and margin for himself and his family. But he also built a lot of margin for his customers and his employees.

At that time credit cards weren't as accessible as they are today - especially to this population. Being able to pay the same day extended a lot of lifestyle margin to his employees. I also know full well that a lot of margin is extended to a company (his customers) that used temporary employees either by impacting profitability or flexibility or adaptability. You are enabling a lot of margin for that company too.

That is what we intend to do. We pursue margin for our employees, our customers, and our owners.

Thank you, Ray Neslund. We will strive to be like you.