Escape from California

Having developed and applied control system software my entire career, I was looking forward to my new job in California. I had accepted a position with a leading semiconductor equipment firm that specialized in metrology. Metrology is the technology, not unlike a microscope, that can examine circuits being built in production facility with extreme precision. Without it, manufacturing computer chips such as microprocessors would be impossible.

With the family packed in our minivan, my life was unfolding as I planned. I liked what I did and my world seemed to reflect that. My new job would be the best yet, a mid-level management position working on an ambitious leading edge product. Representing everything this company had learned over 25 years, this device would be able to look at features that were a few nanometers wide and determine if they were flawed. It was technology and magic combined into a compact machine that would be sold to semiconductor manufacturers world-wide.

It was the pinnacle of my career, and I was proud of what I had accomplished.

Imagine my surprise on my arrival for my first day of work when they told me that it would be best if I didn’t set up at my desk just yet because they were laying off dozens of engineers. The position I had been hired for had been eliminated.

I languished for 8 months doing odd jobs and then I was out. I packed the family in the minivan and drove back to Arizona were I began to look for a job. However I found that many of them had been moved overseas. My skillset was specific and narrow and wasn’t suitable for the few jobs that were out there.

So I sat at home playing video games. I picked up my kids at school and cleaned the house and made dinner.

But over time, my boredom turned to restlessness and frustration. I really didn’t know what to do. And then the words “do something!” rang in my head, as Sigourney Weaver screams while under file in Aliens 2. So I set a new course of action. I contacted a business broker, then I bought a small IT firm called BCS.

And in the first year, I grew that company by 27%. I was back on top; it seemed as though my career was a continuation of what had preceded.

What I didn’t know was that running a small company bore little resemblance to being a mid-level manager in an engineering firm. I was about to learn some tough lessons.
To be continued…

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