The Gift That Was 2015

AS 2015 draws to a close, one thing is certain, it will be one of the most revolutionary years of my life.  We all have occasions in our lifetime that are forever etched in our brains – and hearts.  These might conjure up events such as graduations, weddings, and the births of our children and grandchildren.  But these memorable events can also be connected to our work life. And why shouldn’t they?  Most of us spend 40 plus hours a week with our co-workers.  So, what does a “revolutionary” year mean to me?  I’m glad you asked!

Changing adversities into successes

It means that, despite starting this year with many adversities and challenges, our team faced them head-on, and together we transformed 2015 into one of the greatest years ever!  The strengths we each offer and the contributions we each make, could never achieve what RDS has achieved in just seven short months if we had all stood alone.  It is THIS – our team – for which I am most grateful.

Don’t misinterpret that last comment and think that their business acumen is all I am thankful for.  In fact, that quality is near the bottom of my list.  So then, what attributes are at the top of my list of gratitudes you wonder?  Read on to see what I really think about the RDS team…

Kind Hearts

Each and every person at RDS has the biggest, kindest heart you will find anywhere.  As an organization, one of our top priorities was to begin a “give back to the community” program as soon as was logistically possible.  I don’t know if we’ve officially named this company initiative yet, but that hasn’t stopped us from supporting a couple of local charities.  We stopped production and closed down the office because every single person (as well as some of the employee’s spouses) wanted to offer their labor at a food bank in Covington last month.

Have you seen our social media picture of our Christmas tree?  Every single one of the presents under that tree is going to a needy family in our community.  Bringing smiles to those in need, especially at Christmas time, brings smiles and joy to us.

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I consider every person at RDS a personal friend.  We have had more get-togethers after hours than I can remember.  Whether Billy and Aaron hit the dome to watch our beloved Saints play some football, or we have swimming parties at Brant and Sarah’s house, or my wife and I cook lunch at our home for the entire crew, or we are celebrating a big RDS contract win – we truly enjoy each other’s company when we are away from the office.  Everyone is invited to every gathering – every time!

Trust and Integrity

I truly feel blessed to work with people who have such high moral standards.  I think integrity becomes ingrained in people based on several factors, but typically is a result of decisions made over a lifetime.  Trust is one of the most precious traits anyone can have.  It is earned over a period of time, yet can be given up in an instant.  There is nothing I wouldn’t trust to every one of my friends at RDS.  I am grateful to be able to pursue my life’s career passion with this group for many years to come.


I can’t think of a better example of displaying trust than when Rob Ludlam, one of our Sr. Engineers, invited me to stay at his home with him and his family during a business trip to the Atlanta area.  He and his wife, Heather, insisted that I would be more comfortable there than any hotel I would choose.  But then again, isn’t that what friends do?

Final Thoughts

Last week we had our company Christmas party at a quaint little restaurant in downtown Covington.  I’ve been to countless company Christmas parties over my career.  This may not have been the wildest one I’ve been to; it may not have been the largest one I’ve been to; it may not even have been the most extravagant party I’ve been to – BUT, it has absolutely become my most memorable, all-time favorite company Christmas party my wife and I have attended.

Let me illustrate my point by wrapping up with a brief story from that night:

As we were finishing our main course Brant Rathe, our president, and Anthony Markezich, a Senior Account Executive, gave a short speech thanking everyone for their dedication, hard work, and loyalty to our organization.  As if this wasn’t heartfelt enough, this prompted many others, regardless of their position on the organizational chart, to stand up and voice their own thoughts and appreciation which has brought us all together at RDS.  As each person expressed their own feelings to the rest of the group, it is truly hard to put into words the emotions filling that room.  But what happened next almost brought tears to eyes.  A couple eating dinner in the room next to ours overheard the entire scene.  They were so moved by what was said and how it was said that they walked over to us and felt compelled to respond.  The lady stated, “My husband and I couldn’t help but overhear what was just said by so many of you.  It was remarkable to witness, and you are so lucky to have each other.  We wish you much success with your company.”  How about that for an unsolicited affirmation of what I already knew.  I was surrounded by nothing but greatness and positivity.  I was surrounded by – FAMILY!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

William Collins