HostJury is an independent site that provides news and reviews within the hosting & data center industry. Below is the transcript of a recent interview HostJury conducted with Hivelocity’s Director of Operations Steven Eschweiler.
Thu, 30th January 2014, 17:42
Hivelocity is a long-running company with a stellar reputation, one earned over years of focusing on one thing: solid dedicated server hosting, so with the recent announcement of Steven Eschweiler’s promotion to Director of Operations, we thought we’d take the opportunity to pick his brains for a look into what it takes to build a brand and keep it spotless- as well as seeing what’s in the future for a company with a real focus on its customer service.
Q. You’ve been with Hivelocity from the very beginning. What’s been the most rewarding element of starting and growing a brand?
Steven: We started Hivelocity with 5 guys in a basement and 2 cabinets of Cobalt Raq 3 servers…remember those? Here we are 12 years later with our own 25,000 sq ft data center, thousands of physical servers, thousands more virtual servers and 50 employees. When you are self-funded and organically grow like we have the rewarding events over the course of a decade plus are many. Our brand over the years has grown to stand for incredible customer service & support, impeccable reliability, and an exceptional user experience. None of these brand elements would be possible without the incredible team we have been fortunate enough to assemble. We have gone from 5 guys in a basement to 50 of the most talented and dedicated individuals in the industry.
Q. How has the hosting industry changed most radically from your first day to today? Are there any trends you think are interesting moving forward?
Steven: The industry as a whole has matured a lot over the years. Companies that were start ups along with us are now a piece of IBM. You don’t get much more mature than IBM. Since hosting and servers has pretty much become a commodity we are all trying to find ways to differentiate ourselves from each other. Data centers and hosting companies are investing a lot in development and creating new software that more easily enables customers to find success. A successful customer is a growing customer and that is what we all want after all. The days of just offering power and pipe are over. People want solutions that envelope all of their needs today and provide a scalable roadmap for tomorrow.
Q. Your realm at Hivelocity has centered on solid customer service. Is there a particular philosophy that you’ve brought to this endeavor, or a more general corporate philosophy you uphold?
Steven: There is one core philosophy I ask our team to keep in mind with everything we do. “Provide a unique customer experience that is exceptional at every interaction, every time.” When your goal is to create an exceptional user experience, every facet of service has to be included; uptime, ticket responses, technician expertise, our data center tour…everything has to be consistently superior. Our video tour, the live order tracker, the custom server pics we send, are all part of the Hivelocity experience. We want our customers to walk away from every interaction saying “wow, that was really cool.”
Q. Your new position is Director of Operations. What are some of the new challenges you expect this role to bring? New opportunities?
Steven: I see our challenges and opportunities as very much the same thing. We are a technology company and as any IT company will tell you, technology changes fast. If you aren’t nimble and quick to evolve, you find yourself selling something nobody wants. Likewise, if you are nimble and able to adapt you will find yourself at the cutting edge with products people are just realizing they want and need. Today, cloud and virtualized solutions with high-availability and scale are what the market demands. Every day we work towards broadening that segment of our product offerings.
Q. As General Manager, you introduced the Hivelocity Experience program, which streamlined the way the service was delivered to consumers and even included them in the setup process. We found the customer inclusion to be particularly novel: how important is this aspect of the service to Hivelocity, and do you have any future plans to ramp up customer participation even further?
Steven: Our customers are like family to us and when you have something great going on, you involve your family. Transparency and involving our customers to whatever level they want, is paramount to our brand and success. So to answer your question, we have only scratched the surface of what we have planned regarding customer inclusion and continuing to create that unique user experience I touched on previously.
Q. On a more personal note, tell us about your history and how it led you to hosting, and to Hivelocity in particular.
Steven: I was close friends with the founders of Hivelocity from the time we were teenagers. After graduating from the Florida State University with a BS in Business Administration and a major in Marketing, I took a horrible job working for a big US bank. Sometimes you learn the most by watching bad practices in action. Luckily, I was able to leave that position and walk away with a realization that if given the opportunity I would make sure whatever product I had control of offering was done with the customer’s greatest interests in mind. My next position was working with a managed service provider here in Tampa. This position helped reinforce my IT aspirations and one day my old friends called up just as they were about to start Hivelocity. Their needs fit my strengths and the rest is history.
Q. What would you say is one big failure you’ve endured during your career, and what did you learn from it?
Steven: We have not always had our own data center. Over the years we have gone from having a closet, to renting suites and cages within other data centers to finally building out our own facility. At each stage of our growth we have been able to say, okay what did we do wrong last time and how can we do it better this time around. An easy example of this is wire management. 10 years ago wire management was not something we spent much time on. It doesn’t take long to realize if you don’t take pride in your wire management you end up with a cabling nightmare. The next time we scaled up our operation we made sure that during the migration we wired everything perfectly. If you were to tour our data center today you would immediately take notice that miles of cables are incredibly managed.
Q. Finally, do you have any advice for the young graduates getting into the industry?
Steven: What you read in a book and what you learn on the job are 2 very different things. I have had applicants with all the certifications and accolades one can garner not be able to pass our tests during the interview process. The books are great for building a foundation but there is nothing like managing your own servers and getting your hands dirty with real life issues.
About Steven Eschweiler
Steven Eschweiler was recently named Director of Operations at Hivelocity after previously holding the position of General Manager where he was responsible for operations, marketing and product development. Steve committed much of his efforts to making Hivelocity a premium solutions provider with a laser focus on customer service. Eschweiler has been with the company since its inception in 2002.
Since the beginning in 2001, Hivelocity have backed their responsive e-business solutions with a robust infrastructure, the best customer service and superior technical support. A common misconception about the technology industry is “it’s all machines”. That is not Hivelocity’s approach. Although their state of the art data center and infrastructure are second to none, Hivelocity is successful because they are committed to exceptional customer service and unparalleled 24×7 Impressive Support. Because Hivelocity take support and client services so seriously, thousands of business across the globe have entrusted Hivelocity with their data. Hivelocity boasts and guarantees 99.99% network uptime which they fulfill year after year after year.