Kevin D. Glass is the President and Chief Executive Officer of HAYSTACKID, which recently launched a new office in the heart of Manhattan. We took a moment to talk about the reasons behind the more concerted push into the New York City marketplace, as well as his insights on this year’s LegalTech conference and the industry at large.
Let’s begin with the New York City marketplace. What made you decide that you needed to open the new office in New York?
The reason why we chose New York was that a great person fell into our lap. There’s noise in the market, we’re making the noise nationally, which attracted this guy to us. This particular gentleman, Taulant Kodi, is an Albanian man with a pretty crazy story of how he arrived here.
In the 1980s, there was a lottery around the globe and a certain number of people internationally would win a position to come to America. Taulant’s brother, unbeknownst to Taulant, entered him into this lottery. At the time, Taulant was living on Lake Como in Italy. I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who would want to leave Lake Como. I spend all my time trying to make enough money to go to Lake Como and live there.
Amen to that, sir.
But anyways, his brother tells him to come home to Albania immediately, and tells Taulant he won the chance to go to America. He had been entering him for years. So, Taulant at that point didn’t speak any English, didn’t know anyone in America, but thought there were some services. You know, something like, getting him a job, finding him a place to live, services like that.
He gets here, and there are no services. Taulant gets to New York and that’s the end of the services, so he basically is dropped into New York without money, acquaintances, zero. He started with zero. And this is where many people like him – people who come to this country with nothing – show how strong-willed they can be.
I’m guessing he was successful?
Yes. Absolutely. He comes here with nothing but his own mind and will power, and completely makes a life for himself in New York City. Taulant got into our industry and because of his combination of work ethic, integrity, and skill, builds this incredible reputation. Word spreads and hit clients become tied to him rather than whoever he is working for.
He’s a super star, and has gained the loyalty of his clients thanks to what he has built over the past several decades.
So when did the conversation begin regarding him coming to HAYSTACKID?
Well because of our success, he knew about us and got in touch with me. He comes up to Boston, and seriously, I’m not over-exaggerating here, him and I talk for about eight hours straight.
We hit it off instantly, and apparently had an endless collection of stories to share with one another. I think one of the big things that I saw in that meeting was that, while there have been plenty of major differences in our lives, we both started with zero. We started with nothing and we strived toward more throughout our lives.
People who go from nothing to as much as Taulant and I have gained have some good stories to tell, let’s put it that way. We related too because of the various stages of our careers, just having to move around and start with zero again.
You know, there’s not a lot of times that an opportunity like this one come around either. There was this instant trust between us, I know he can get it done. From where he started to where he’s at today, I trust him and his ability to take our business to the next level.
Just out of curiosity, where was he working when you and him spoke?
Oh, well that’s a whole other story. There had been a recent changing of hands at his previous place of employment, and things were just not functional. To give you a better idea – Taulant was trying to convince his bosses that the office needed internet!
How is that possible?
I don’t know. I really don’t. But the day came that Taulant, his wife, and everyone else who worked there walked out, quit on the spot. Taulant and his wife, who is a master organizer and operations aficionado, decided to come to us. And to note, we often hear about stories like this at the big players with satellite offices.
And how was that transition?
Suffice it to say that we treat people differently and we open offices a bit differently than other companies. When we go out and launch a new office, we do it in earnest. We found the perfect location and a great space to work in. Internet is turned on day one. Taulant and his team are in there after hours putting together furniture and setting things up.
Jeff Stevens, our Chief Technology Officer, is down there installing all of the equipment that they’ll need. I get a call from Taulant, he starts telling me that he cannot believe how smoothly the launch is going, and that he could not be happier that he made this change.
See, something you need to understand is that when we decide to start a new office, we need to know it’s a winner. That includes me, Jeff, all of the other executives, the sales staff, the project managers – everyone at HAYSTACKID – needs to know that this new office is going to be a winner.
I know that Taulant is a winner. He’s proven his stature over and over again for decades and is, plain and simple, a winner. He just needed the right tools and space and support to win. So we covered our end of the bargain, gave him everything he needed, and we are already seeing that this was the right move for all parties involved.
That also includes our clientele. In our industry, our clients need to know that we are going to get the work done properly. That we are going to continue going above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done. Things like getting in the car to go to Pennsylvania on a weekend to collect data, or complete some massive printing project at breakneck speed – you have to do it.
And that’s what this industry is, and that’s what life is. That’s what winning a lottery to come to America and starting with nothing is all about – you have to work. Taulant embodies that work ethic and understanding that it takes work to get ahead, and it take commitment to gain the loyalty of colleagues and partners and clientele.
So, that is what compelled us to launch this new office in New York City. We have a sure thing, and obviously the market there is booming, and everyone in the company already knows this is going to be another winner.
Check back in tomorrow for the second part of our interview with HAYSTACKID President & CEO Kevin Glass!