20 Years…Is It Really?

June 14th, 2022

On June 21, 2022, it will be 20 years since Solution Street was founded. In many ways it’s very hard to believe that. I suppose we all mark the passage of time with significant events in our lives. When Solution Street had just started in the spring of 2002, there were still the lingering thoughts of 9/11, my kids were so very young and we had just moved into a house. As years passed and Solution Street grew, there was the great recession, followed later by, of course, a global pandemic, and eventually my kids moved out on their own after college and my wife and I sold our house. It all seems so fast. Within the world of Solution Street, we had several different offices, moved into larger spaces as the number of employees grew, supported our employees through their professional development, celebrated the weddings of employees, and saw lots of technology changes, but throughout, we always stayed true to the company’s personality. It has been a wonderful, wild ride so far and I am so very proud to be a part of such a great group of people.

Over the years I’ve been asked repeatedly a few questions about the impetus for starting Solution Street. The three most common questions have been: Why did I start this company?; Why did I start it at the time I did?; and how did I come up with its name? Let me explain the answers.

I’ll begin with the timing. You would think that 2002 would have been a less than perfect time to choose to start a business. At the time, the country was still reeling from the 9/11 attacks the previous year, and in my personal life, I had two small kids and a new house with a new mortgage. For me, however, it was a perfect time. At that time, I had already worked many years at a software consulting company and a startup. I had learned at that point in my life that I was settled in with what was the main focus up to that point (kids, house) and now I could focus on what I really wanted in my career – to work among developers who loved to build software at a company where the cornerstone was on software development. 

Which leads me to answer the next question: Why did I start Solution Street? It was quite simple and maybe selfish perhaps. I wanted to work with others like myself who loved the craft of building software – developers, managers, and testers – and remove the extraneous, red-tape, annoying aspects outside of the software development process so that I and others could just focus on honing our craft. Above this, I really just wanted to work with nice people. Maybe that statement is a bit pithy, but as I got older (although at that point I was in my 30s and now that seems very young) I realized that enjoying the people around me while growing my abilities as a software developer was truly the most important. By starting my own company, I could prioritize these aspects and so I did, even though personally, before then I had never thought of myself as an entrepreneur with the exception of having a newspaper route in Brooklyn and a quick foray at building some software on my Commodore Vic-20 that I sold to the local Radio Shack back in the 1980s. 

Now to the question of the name, Solution Street. The word “solution” was always in my thoughts as a math kid and I recently posted on LinkedIn about how my math team teacher in my high school in Brooklyn always used the word “solution” as in “find the solution…” to this math problem. The word “street” was used because growing up in the city, your life revolved around the goings-on within your street. I lived on a street with almost 100 row-like houses each filled with one or two families, often with kids, and there was a huge difference between living on East 80th Street and East 81st Street. Of course, I thought my street had the best people and the best stickball and stoop ball players, but as you would imagine, kids from the other streets thought the same thing. Combining the problem-solving math term “solution” with the neighborhood term “street” made sense to me as the name for the company.

After 20 years I am equally proud today as I was in 2002 to be part of something much bigger than myself. I am proud of happy clients and successful projects, long-term employees (a shout out to Jeff Schuman for being the first employee and setting the tone of the company with his intelligence, dedication and wit), and for providing a safe haven for developers, analysts, managers and testers. Additionally, one of the areas I am most proud of is the money we’ve raised for charity. Like many people, I have always wanted to help others and over the years I’ve tried to do my best to do that. At a company level, we choose a different charity each year to support. At the start of the year, all employees are invited to propose charities that they would like to support and, after a company-wide vote, one charity is selected. Throughout the year, we organize various fund-raising events for the selected charity and donate the proceeds to that charity at the end of the year. I am continually impressed and humbled by those employees who have taken the lead in organizing these events and championing the charities we have supported including those with a focus on ending childhood cancer, providing clean water to communities, and rescuing abused and neglected horses, to name just a few. 

As Solution Street has evolved and grown, my ability to spend time coding on projects has diminished, but seeing others enjoying what they are doing and being happy is more than enough. Joel, from the start of joining me to lead Solution Street, has had a major impact on its growth in terms of staff and clients and he has taken the helm as CEO while I assist with various components of the company. His leadership has further transformed the company and allowed everyone in the company to advance their technology and consulting skills. Joel’s leadership has given me more time to volunteer for worthy causes using my development skills, which has always been important to me. I am continually proud of how the company has grown but not changed from its core personality.

As I reflect on Solution Street’s journey through the years and all the parts that have come to define it, I realize its impact on my own personal journey. I am thankful that I, like the company itself, have kept with who I am and remained true to my values. Values such as fairness, treating people with respect, honesty, integrity, and kindness always play a part in making decisions related to the company and its employees and are built into our Core Values. The alignment of both my personal and professional values has allowed me to stay true to who I am when making company-related decisions.

Throughout these past 20 years, I have learned so much from our employees, whether it be from our new hires up through our highly-experienced managers. I value each and every Solution Street employee and am honored to be their colleague. When asked for my title on various routine forms, I prefer to write Solution Street Software Engineer rather than using any other title or position – that’s where I started and where I remain today.