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(I’m currently reading “Lead with a Story”, which inspired me to share more about the ThreeWill story)

ThreeWill’s story involves two brothers, two fights with cancer, and one desire to make an impact together.

My older brother and I are separated by 4 years of age. This was just enough time that growing up we didn’t do a lot together. I was closer to my younger brother, Bobby (2 years younger). After graduating from Clemson, newly married to Linda with their first on the way, Tommy found out that he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After a tough battle with cancer (which included a Staging Laparotomy), Tommy was in remission. His first son was born, and after that, twins were on the way. He and Linda lived in Maryland at the time and I planned a visit. One of the nights, we had a discussion about wanting to get to know each other better, and we thought how cool it would be to work together (and maybe even start a company).

Years passed and an opportunity came up where we could work together at the same company (a highly recommended first step if you want to start a company with a sibling). We were fortunate to get to work on many projects together. We really enjoyed working with each other and we complemented each other well (I like starting and Tommy is a finisher). One of our favorite projects was for U-Haul where we created their eCommerce website for renting trucks (back then it was

An opportunity came up to write a book (think Color by Numbers, not Moby Dick). But, this meant leaving the company I worked for with Tommy. I ended up making the jump first and Tommy followed soon after (I started the book, and he helped me finish as the co-author). Writing books does not pay the bills so we both starting training and writing training materials for Microsoft to pay the bills. We did this for about a year.

One of our first consulting projects was with ApolloMD (a company that my younger brother works there). The project involved a hospital scheduling website for physicians that leveraged a product called Team Services (an early version of SharePoint). We steadily transitioned from authoring to teaching to consulting – what we wanted to focus on. Thanks to an anchor client and heroes like Nick Callivas, we were able to hire our first associate (Chad Cook).

Tommy and I are passionate about making an impact – we make an impact on customers we serve by building collaborative apps that help organizations work together better. One of the reasons why we named the company ThreeWill was to focus on our shared value of free will – the God-given ability to make conscious choices in the workplace and in life.

This 3-minute video summarizes what we believe best –

Our biggest challenge as a company came during our fifth year in business. Tommy was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (you can read his blog here). He ended up going out to MD Anderson for a stem cell transplant. While he was out of the office, Nick Callivas came in and helped out. We were blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people who helped us through this difficult time. I remember thinking how fortunate I was to really grow closer to Tommy and how I would have traded anything for him to beat cancer again.

Thanks to the hard work put in by Tommy and his doctors (and the grace of God), the stem cell transplant was successful and Tommy was back at work again.  He’s been in remission for over seven years.

We’ve been blessed to be profitable every year since we started ThreeWill. Much of this has to do with Joe Markiewicz, the seasoned professional behind all the waterline decisions that we make. His fiscally conservative viewpoint has helped us focus on our values and stay out of trouble during downturns in business. And another key person at ThreeWill has been Linda Ryan, Tommy’s wife. She has run the books since day one – she has never messed up payroll and we have never had to write off a payable from a customer since we started. She is beyond amazing.

Over the last three years, a new set of brothers (brothers in law actually, Bruce Harple and Gary Geurts) are at ThreeWill. Bruce is leading up Delivery so Tommy can lead more effectively, Gary is helping me with Sales, so I can focus on my passion of Marketing. We are more excited than ever about the future and the team at ThreeWill.  If you ever want me to talk, ask me about individuals at ThreeWill and my respect for the people I work with every day.

Tommy and I had a conversation yesterday at lunch (we grab lunch each Tuesday to catch up and stay on the same page).  Some days it just feels like a grind. In a consulting business, you almost never have visibility beyond the next 3-6 months, so it always looks like you’re about to go off a cliff (can I get an “Amen” from other consulting business owners?).  We have to focus on positive things like what our clients say about what we do and what people at ThreeWill say about our work environment.

A thought occurred to me on the drive back to the office: even if all we did was create a positive and ethical work environment for people to earn an honest living at ThreeWill, that would be enough!

I want to thank everyone for this opportunity to work with my brother and get to know him better. I think back to our conversation in Maryland, and I am amazed by the journey. When I look at the last 13 or so years, I am grateful for everyone I’ve been able to get to work with and I look forward to the next 13 or more years at ThreeWill (God willing).

Thanks for reading!


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