Rick and Denise Thomas

Rick and Denise Thomas, Co-owners of The Chariot Group, Inc.

How did I end up here?  Don’t we all ask ourselves that question from time-to-time?  Like many, my path was meandering and not clearly identifiable at the outset.

I am originally from Las Vegas, Nevada.  I graduated in 1985 from UNLV (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) with a degree in Finance.  Had I gotten a degree in the subject that was of the most interest to me, I would have graduated as a Sociologist; I am fascinated by why people do what they do and how we respond as a population.  But, it was the early 1980’s, Lee Iacocca, the CEO of Chrysler, was the hero of the day and business was where the action was… so, Finance was my degree of choice.

After a professionally dissatisfying ten years in the Banking and Insurance industry, I was disillusioned and in need of a change.  As a result, I went in search of a new profession and, after a detour into environmental science, I accepted a position with an audiovisual company selling multimedia projectors, a new technology at the time.

A year later, although professionally satisfied with my new career path, I was still yearning for a change. I was tired of Las Vegas and looking for adventure with Alaska on my mind.  Fortunately, I was able to negotiate with my employer an opportunity to open an Anchorage office.  Two months later, in the early morning hours, I pulled out of the driveway of my Las Vegas home with my wife, Denise, two dogs and everything we owned in a 6’x9’ trailer.  We arrived, seven days and four-thousand miles later, at our new home in Anchorage.

Within two years, Anchorage felt like home and I had turned the company’s newest office into its number one producer.  My success was, in part, the result of having the good fortune to meet some very talented people who shared their knowledge with me, coupled with landing some unique projects that exposed me to the emerging technologies of videoconferencing and data collaboration.  It wasn’t just projectors anymore.

Because I was so far away from the company’s lower 48 corporate headquarters, I had become very self-sufficient.  I also knew that, to survive this changing industry, I would have to develop my own resources; a skilled staff and contractor partners who could accommodate the latest customer requests – which now included system design, installation and integration.

At this point, it became clear to me; If I was going to have to build it myself, I might as well build it for myself… Hence, in September 1999, The Chariot Group, Inc. was born.

Over the years, many friends and family members have encouraged me to write.  Early on, the suggested topics were funny college stories, or a book of quotes that my friends and I had created.  As my career developed, the topic suggestions changed to business, politics and social issues.  But, the encouragement to write continued, and I must admit, the idea of putting my thoughts and ideas down in a written form always peaked my interest.

For sixteen years, I have been a fascinated observer and an active participant in the evolution of this industry. I’ve had to re-shape my company time and again to keep pace as the industry continues to reinvent itself.  I’ve watched, sometimes stunned, at the pace at which the technologies change.  Likewise, in both formal and informal settings, I’ve had the opportunity to provide manufacturers with, hopefully, valued input into the product design, development and marketing process.  I’ve listened to the concerns and debated the alternatives with manufacturer, buyer and end-user alike as they struggle to  anticipate market needs and, in truth, just keep up.

And, through it all, as an amateur Sociologist, I have developed some of my own theories on how to view, manage and tackle this Unknownium element, the uncertainty, in our technology future.

Some of the ideas I plan to discuss are; why I think we are approaching the end of the technology revolution, the importance of the “Biology-Technology Interface”, and changes that, in my opinion, have to occur in order to successfully create a cost-effective, easy-to-use, integrated and collaborative digital ecosystem.

It is my hope that my comments will be thought-provoking, spark debate and inspire us to strive for and create the best that is within us all.

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