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Gears Turns 10

Today is the 10th Anniversary of GearsCRM and for the last three weeks – while I tried to figure out this blog – I’ve been trying to wrap my head around everything that has happened in those 10 years. We definitely started off small – just myself and a plan to get to five or six people over two years at the time, which I thought would be the best thing ever. It was a funny ride to get to those six other people – but it was obvious that it was already the start of something bigger than I imagined. Those six became the foundation for us to continue our growth, and right out of the gate we established some amazing relationships with customers and people at Salesforce that would be our springboard to bigger things. At 10 years old we’re nearly at 100 employees and getting close to having partnered with almost 500 customers. It’s still tough to draw the line from how we got from 5 – 6 to nearly 100, but it certainly wasn’t a straight one. I’ll never forget one of the defining moments for me – having a beer at a local dive near the Chicago Salesforce office with a high-level Salesforce exec and one of our really close Salesforce friends discussing what our plans were as a partner. At the time, we were around 20 people and I was having doubts about whether to keep growing or if we should just stick to this size. The exec turned to me and said “Harry, Salesforce is a rocket ship. You either get on or get burned by the exhaust.” I sat there, finished my beer and said to myself “I’d rather not be on fire”. Then, I ordered another beer to prepare for what was next.

I still smile thinking how 10 years ago it was simply “Salesforce” and you could be an expert in “Salesforce.” Now, it’s Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Einstein, Marketing Cloud (two kinds), Commerce Cloud (two kinds), Mulesoft, CPQ, FSL, Tableau, and on and on. It was a simpler world back then, but we hadn’t built Gears around Salesforce to be simple. At the time, we were already doing challenging products and then when the next products and clouds started rolling out, we were beyond excited and had the “bring it on” mentality. Just even five years ago if you told me half of our company would be working on all of these specialties I would have laughed. It’s been exciting, but it’s definitely a challenge to keep up with.

One of the surprises for me with all of this is the friendships that we’ve built over these 10 years. You don’t start a company thinking that you’re going to build all of these incredible friendships while doing all of this work (at least I didn’t – and I didn’t see a line for this in my business plan software, so I don’t think I’m alone), but looking back on these years it’s one of the things that jumps out at me the most. Not just friendships among my team here at Gears, but friendships within Salesforce, our customers, other partners, and even some of our competitors. Part of what makes Dreamforce such as challenge now is it’s the one place all of these friends are together at the same time, so trying to balance that with client / prospect meetings is definitely tough in three days (it’s also getting tougher to fit them all into the venue we throw our party at each year). I’d say Dreamforce should be longer, but I wouldn’t make it back alive if it was any longer.

So, at 10 years old, there are a ton of people to thank and I’d like to take the time to do that more than anything else. First, I’d like to thank all of the Gearys that have joined over the years – even those that aren’t with us anymore – but especially those that are. Each of you have added to this terrific culture we’ve created in our virtual office and every time I introduce you on a call or a meeting, I couldn’t be prouder to call out your name and say that you’re one of us. Thank you for your dedication, creativity, and passion that you bring every day. Thank you for being such a fun group and putting up with my insanity. Thank you for the excellence you bring to work and how much you care about our company and product. Thank you for making Gears what it is.

Second, I’d like to thank all of our customers. It’s humbling sometimes to think of the amount of trust you have placed in us, and I want to thank you for that. In particular, I want to thank those customers that really took the leap with the “boutique shop” where maybe one of the bigger firms was the safer bet, but you went with your gut and believed in us. We have so many long-term customers and have built so many close relationships, I can’t thank you all individually, but thank you for partnering with us. Not every project goes smoothly, but we appreciate you sticking with us as we try to make right in those situations. Thank you to all of you.

Third, I’d like to thank Salesforce. Obviously, Salesforce is a big entity but we have worked closely with so many people within Salesforce over these years. We have many super close relationships across Sales, the Partner team, the Product teams, the Sales Engineers and the CSM team. Without naming names (as that would make this blog post really long), I want to thank each of you that have given us a chance and had faith in us that we were the team that could handle your project. I also want to thank you for trusting our opinions and giving us the benefit of the doubt when things didn’t go perfectly. We didn’t win every sale, but we hope you saw us as a strong partner that was fighting for you.

Next I’d like to thank some of the other partners we’ve built strong relationships with over the years. Outside of Salesforce we have built some great partnerships and have had a ton of joint success. I want to thank Dell Boomi (we started prior to the Dell part), NewVoiceMedia, Conga, and Appinium in particular. On the Services side, we have partnered with other SIs that allowed us to handle those larger projects. Codescience, Clear Task (now part of Perficient) and Sundog Interactive (now also part of Perficient) are three that really jump out and we did some terrific work together. Even on the competitor side – I want to thank those of you that have had an honest and respectful relationship with us. You know who you are!

Finally, I’d like to say a thanks to my family (and include a thanks to the families of all of the Gearys which probably have similar feelings as mine). Gears started at 2AM in the morning when I woke up my wife to let her know I’d quit my job and I was going to do this Salesforce thing and everything would be great (2009 was right in the great recession, so perfect timing on my part). The amount of patience they have shown and the amount of lunacy they have put up with starting from the opening seconds of the company to now has been above and beyond. Sometimes even my dog gives me looks. They still might not be able to use Salesforce (yet) but they probably know more than they ever wanted to. Without them, this simply doesn’t happen. Thank you for everything.

I can’t wait for what the next years bring. I can’t even imagine what Salesforce will look like in the next 10 years, but I’m looking forward to tackling it with Gears and everyone we have worked with head-on. Thank you, everyone, for helping us become what we are, through the good and the bad stretches. I’m excited to be with you for the next 10.

Harry

Harry Radenberg

Harry is the President and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 15 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.

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