Horse Sense #56 

[We thought you might enjoy a unique view of Iron Horse from an insider’s perspective… --The editor.]

Quesadillas, Scary Dogs, and Humility

By: Matt Benton, Iron Horse Sales Consultant

It seems like only yesterday I had my interview for a summer internship with Iron Horse at the Austin Grill, a nearby restaurant.  I entered that interview a very cocky college student, convinced that all my years of schooling and my ability to learn quickly would make me a natural computer salesman.  As I leave Iron Horse to return to school, I realize I still possess little practical technical knowledge about computers and even less about being an effective, trusted sales consultant.  While this job did bring my ego down a peg or two (which, my mom will tell you, is not necessarily a bad thing), it did open my eyes to a few things that I’d like to share with you, somewhat tongue in cheek.  In case you are wondering, Tony asked me to write this so you could see a fresh view of Iron Horse.

I have learned about licensing, security products, network products, and much more.  Licensing is incredibly confusing.  There is no way I would have been able to figure it out on my own without the help of Tony and Tom here at Iron Horse and manufacturer licensing specialists.  I would strongly advise talking to a licensing expert, like Iron Horse for your licensing and maintenance needs.  We do this all the time and can find savings and plans you might not know about.
People think they are more secure than they are.  Before taking this job, I was the same way.  I thought I was secure because I had desktop anti-virus.  What I learned in my Symantec security training is scary.  I now know that anti-virus is not enough.  Many people think that their firewall will be enough to protect them.  They are wrong.  E-mail viruses go through most firewalls.  Spam overloads mail servers and wastes user’s time.  Laptops are a huge security risk if they do not have a desktop firewall in place.  Web content filtering is becoming a must have….  You need someone to talk to who will take the time to learn your business and the risks it faces.  That’s why working with a dealer like Iron Horse that can offer you a high degree of customer service can be an asset to your business.  I can now say we (including yours truly) can help you.
During my first week, Tony took me along on one of his service calls.  Tony began by talking to various people, getting a feel for where everything was and how it all worked.  Then he started to address the problem, doing a whole mess of things: “pinging” stuff, rebooting servers, et al.  It took him a very short time to diagnose the problem (faulty cables).  Then, he moved onto the next problem, configuring a firewall.  That problem got way too technical for me, but I could tell Tony did everything in his power to solve the problem quickly.  Ultimately, the problem was Verizon claimed the connection to the outside world was live and it wasn’t.  Tony configured the hardware such that after Verizon fixed its problem, everything “magically” started working.  All of the things Tony fixed were things he had told the customer needed to be done in an earlier email, but weren’t done, which is not an uncommon occurrence.
Sometimes I would take a break.  Hearing voice mail two hundred times a day can be a little depressing without ESPN columnist Bill Simmons giving me a little entertainment.  But I found out early on that Tony knew when I was slacking off because he set up a Cymphonix box on our network.  That box is incredible.  Basically it tracks and reports on how you use your own network and the Internet.  Some neat features of the box are it blocks web pages that are deemed inappropriate, logs all web pages visited, logs all instant message conversations, allows an administrator to see exactly how the network is being used, and has a fresh pot of mountain grown Columbian coffee ready for you every morning.  Ok, so I made that last one up.  It was also a source for office entertainment as, just for fun, Tony would randomly block a general website, like or, and wait for someone to say, “Why the #!@% is mapquest blocked?”  In all seriousness, though, the Cymphonix box is a powerful appliance with many possibilities.  I would highly recommend it, unless you surf too much ESPN and don’t want the boss to know.
While in my Consumer Reports mode, I’d like to mention how neat the Xerox solid ink printers are.  They use solid wax color ink sticks instead of ink or laser toner.  The printer melts the wax and then shoots it onto the paper to create clear, vibrant, color images that put lasers and ink jets to shame.  The marketing stuff Tom produced was simply spectacular.  During the summer, anything and everything that could be printed I printed on that solid ink printer.  Even now I am still fascinated by the technology.  And with such a low price, there’s no reason not to be wowed every time you print something.  If you do business with Iron Horse, you will likely get a thank you card printed on that amazing printer featuring one of the “Dogs of Iron Horse.”
Tony’s two big black dogs terrified me by barking at me like I was Satan as I walked in the door on that first day.  I soon learned only their barks were big, and they don't bite.  The dogs and I have since become great friends, and playing with them is a fun break.  Beowulf still hopes to get part of my lunch, but young, male, college students are not easily parted from their food.  It was a good lesson.  In this job, we often have to look beyond the surface to see what is really there and forming a relationship is a big part of doing good business.  (For the record, Beowulf and Grendel are 40 pound mutts.  Beowulf is a treat hound and Grendel is an attention hound.--The Editor)
Assuming everyone is willing to put up with me for another summer, I plan on coming back to work here.  This is a great place to work.  My co-workers are a great group of people, funny, and with the exception of Tony, not too geeky.  I learned real world skills.  I learned about cutting edge computer products.  I even learned how to take better care of my laptop in a casual conversation with Tony.  I learned that sales is an honorable career and real sales consultants, like those at Iron Horse, start with the customer first.  They really want to help and build mutually beneficial relationships.  I want to continue my sales and technical education.  Also, I really want to see how fatherhood is treating Tony and Tom in a year, since both of their wives are pregnant.  I leave with great experience, a better knowledge of computer products, some great friends, and an addiction to Austin Grill’s quesadillas.

©2005 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse