The Journey – New Location for Avnet San Antonio Office August 2014

On January 13th of 2014, the Avnet location broke ground on the site of the new facility.  We were joined by government officials, Ryan Companies the builder and a lot of Avnet employees.  It was a grand day in that in August we will say goodbye to our home of 16 years and transition to our new state of the art building.  Here is the speech I gave at the groundbreaking yesterday.

Site of New Home of Avnet San Antonio Location

Site of New Home of Avnet San Antonio Location

I’m proud and humbled to be a part of our Avnet San Antonio office where we sell, support and distribute information technology products for one of Avnet’s largest manufacturers – IBM.  We distribute the full line of IBM offerings of computer hardware, software, services and financing. The Avnet Technology, IBM Solutions Group generates approximately $2B in sales annually.  To put it into perspective, we’ve been in our current facility for 16 years and have generated $21B in sales over that time.

We serve over 800 customers across the United States and Canada. Our value add of Solutions Distribution focuses on technology sales, vertical markets, marketing, logistics, financing, technical support and services.  Our commitment to our customers is to accelerate their success through our customer service, creating new demand and deploying our sales and technical resources in the field.

I want to emphasize that our business success is based on the talented and committed people we have. It’s our employees that make the real difference, with 350 reporting into the local office and 225 of those living right here in San Antonio.  They are certainly the brightest in our industry and we will continue to invest in our employees creating opportunities for their personal growth and development. This talented group of people not only serves our customers but the community as well. Over the last few years, our local Avnet Cares committee has supported local organizations such as San Antonio Children’s Shelter, Morgan’s Wonderland, San Antonio Food Bank, and United Way to name a few. Thousands of hours and donations have been collected and distributed throughout San Antonio and I’m very proud that Avnet has programs that support and encourage community involvement.

As we look to the future, this new high-tech facility being built by the Ryan Companies represents the transformation of our business

Breaking Ground in San Antonio January 2014

Breaking Ground in San Antonio January 2014

from the good old days of the AS400 to the leading and future technologies of converged infrastructure, big data, business analytics, mobility and cloud. It has been our ability to adapt to market changes combined with our resiliency that has contributed to our growth, setting the stage for the next chapter of our story.

Over the last 16 years in our current facility we’ve grown in the good times and weathered through some of the challenging times too. This new facility will create a competitive advantage that positions Avnet to increase our sales, increase our customers, increase our employees and increase our contribution to San Antonio. Avnet is committed to accelerating the success and creating an environment that fosters growth, opportunity and prosperity for our customers, suppliers, employees and community.  Thank You

Arthur Erickson once wrote, “Great buildings that move the spirit have always been rare. In every case they are unique, poetic and products of the heart.” Now I’d like to bring up Bob Gracz, Vice President, Corporate Real Estate at Avnet to tell you more about the specifics of the building.

Posted under General

This post was written by FJ on January 14, 2014

Mental Toughness in Challenging Times

I’ve been told that I am in very good shape (for my age) and I can say that I do work out 5 or 6 times a week.  I do cardio, lift weights and do a lot of sit ups.  I try to eat right most of the time but every once in a while a hamburger or ice cream creep in as a snack.

Today was a day of testing.  By that I mean I worked out 4 days in preparation for working out with my trainer, Jeremy.  During the four days I went through my normal routine that I mentioned above.  At 3:40am the alarm goes off,  I get up and get ready as when I workout with Jeremy I am never sure what the routine will be.

I get there 10 minutes early so I can stretch out (a bit), so no matter what gets thrown at me, my body is limber (for my age).  We start with back and core and we always do three sets of the exercise.  We do seated lateral raises, bench press, leg lifts and 60 pound weighted seat-ups (50 at a time).  We move to squats, jump squats and a different lateral raise.  Did I mentioned we do 3 sets of each at 15 to 20 reps?  Yes, I am breathing a little heavy and we walk over to the treadmill.

I am thinking ok a fast pace jaunt on the treadmill, ok I am good with that and he says “hop on”.  Jeremy starts it up and hits the incline 6, 7, 8….15 and then the speed to 5.5 and as the machine is adjusting to the settings, which I am thinking, what the …..  he says 2 minutes.  Now I’m sure there are a few of you who have done this and think “what’s the problem”.

I am wearing my Brooks shoes, my knee is feeling good and I am thinking I can do this. Well about 30 seconds into it, my thighs begin to burn, at 50 seconds my back is feeling pain from the angle and at 60 seconds my breathing starts to accelerate.  I know what your thinking only a minute to go and it should be no sweat.  Well, I am sweating for sure, put the grind is beginning.  As you know a treadmill has a handle you can grab onto and its right in front of me.  My mind is telling me grab it, grab it, come on grab it.  From 60 seconds to 10 all the pain and suffering continue to escalate and worst of all my mind is my biggest enemy (grab the bar).  I hear Jeremy counting down 10, 9, 8….3, 2, 1 and done.  To add insult to injury we head over (immediately) and do a set of leg extensions.  All this in 30 minutes.

As I caught my breath and my heart begin to slow, it dawned on me the importance of the training session.  In my own comfortable world, I train and although I feel I’m pushing it and I am, but not to the extent that its really stretching me.  When you have someone else pushing you, your limits are extended further than you would do on your own.  I can’t say I have ever been in a workout session by my where I was ready to quit, give up or grab the treadmill bar (I am old so maybe there was a time I can’t remeber :) .

Harris and Fred Celebrate Summit of Kilimanjaro

In life there are many paths to success, complacency and failure.  I think failure is the best teacher as it’s a learning opportunity.  Even if I had grabbed the bar, that would have provided me with what I needed to do to improve and make a choice to do it or not.  That I believe creates a better me and puts me on the path of success.  I think the biggest issue we all face is complacency where we feel we are good enough.  We don’t periodically test ourselves to see how we really stand up to our true potential.  This revelation isn’t just for training or competing, but for life in general, for family & work, for your own mind, body and soul.

Are you just good enough, coasting, taking the easy way out as my dad used to say or are you out to make a difference to all those around you?  It’s in you, it’s a gift and the question is are you using it? For me, its an easy choice as improving means life and when you’re climbing to the top or going back down a mountain she will throw everything in your way to stop you.  Are you really ready and the best you can be?  Really?

Posted under General

This post was written by FJ on August 29, 2013

The Journey – Kilimanjaro Countdown Day 10

My alarm goes off at 3:48am with the ring tone “Three Birds” by the legendary Bob Marley.  The tune that always rings true “Don’t worry about a thing cause every little thing is going to be alright”.  A cup of coffee is ready and I look forward to reading the good book.  At 4:40am I get ready to head to the gym.  I take my pre-work out meds, eat a couple of hard boiled eggs (egg whites only) and drive over to the gym.  This is the routine I have adopted since August in preparation for my trip to Africa and climbing Kilimanjaro.

Preparing for Kilimanjaro with Jeremy

I have been working out with Jeremy Adams, a 30 year old body builder who is built very solid and is a great trainer.  I had seen Jeremy around the gym for a while but I never considered working out with him.  After I completed the Urbanathlon, I thought it might be worth working out with him.  Well let me say that every 30-minute work out pushed me to physical and mental levels I couldn’t have got to by myself.

What makes today special is this is our last day of the heavy workouts.  6 miles, 4 full body workout sets and 30 minutes with Jeremy has been a huge commitment for the last 7 months.  I feel I am in good shape, but I worry about the altitude on Kilimanjaro, as there is no real test as to who will be affected with altitude sickness.  In my last trip to the Himalayas we went as high as 18,500 feet.  I remember when I was at 10,000 how hard it was to move and to breathe.  The good news is after a while I got use to it.  Pacing and hydration played a huge part of acclimatizing.

Back in August I had a physical and I told the doctor what I was going to do in Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.  He had worked at NASA and specialized in studying altitude effects on pilots.  He said that Kilimanjaro was one of the worst mountains for altitude sickness.  He said that folks go up too fast and there have been many fatalities as a result.  He suggested that I go to Colorado to get in some altitude training within a month of leaving for the climb.  He said that it takes about three days for a body to adjust, but that the acclimatization stays with you for 30 days.

Georgetown Colorado

With that in mind I plan a trip to Denver as part of my preparation.  I’m also lucky that my wife is coming along to keep me company and to work out with me.  The first day I get in 3 miles with some lifting and situps as I read in a magazine the day before to do only half of what you normally do.  I am huffing and puffing and my wife is just cruising along and puts an hour of cardio like there is nothing to it.  Later we drive to Georgetown where it snows big time but eventually we get there with the temperature around 19 degrees.  We walk around the town that is about 8000 feet above sea level.  The next day feeling pretty good,  I put in 6 miles that felt more smooth and relaxed.  After three days of altitude we head to the airport to get home.  Hopefully, I will see some benefits from it on the climb.

Patty with Teresa who is always Smiling

At a dinner with some colleagues we come up with the idea to turn the climb into a charitable event.  My sister, who has MS is confined to a wheelchair and requires full time care.  Climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t something she will ever be able to do, as she would be happy just to take a few steps on her own.  Our dinner discussion turned into “Climbing for the Cure” a charitable campaign to create awareness and support in developing new treatments and ultimately a cure for MS.

The Ladies Display the Logos of our Partners for Kilimanjaro

My good friends Rhenee and Isabel on their own time help develop a website, created a tee-shirt and a flag sporting the logos of 15 of our partners who are participating in the charity.

With 10 days to go, I have to say is that I am getting nervous as, I ask the question to myself “are you ready”?

Posted under General

This post was written by FJ on March 7, 2013

The Journey – Chicago Urbanathlon 2012 Finish

The Chicago Urbanathlon 2012 is an 11-mile run with 11 obstacles throughout the course centered in the city of Chicago.   The reality is I have never run more than 6 miles, ever.  About 2 weeks before the event, I finally eclipsed the 12-mile mark and was feeling really strong.  Then one day I was running, I had what seemed like a cramp in my left calf.  Of course being of sound mind, I stopped, stretched and gave it another go.  Unfortunately, I had the same results and pain.

I had started training in August and with two weeks to go I am injured.  What an emotional roller coaster ride that was.  I managed to keep working out and went to using non-impact cardio machines.  I figured that if I could keep up the endurance for another week or so I still might be able to make the run.  I have to tell you I was deeply troubled and you start to think of all the things that may be wrong with your calf.

Rainy, Windy and Chilly Chicago

I arrived in Chicago early in the week for meetings with IBMers and our Partners.  I trained very lightly the first couple of days and then nothing on Thursday and Friday.  I spent Friday afternoon walking the streets of Chicago looking for a calf brace, sports cream for aches & pains and anti-inflammatory medication.  I’ve got to tell you that Chicago is a beautiful city and the walking around seemed to loosen my calf for the better.

I went to dinner with John and his family.   We loaded up on pasta as the energy food for the race the following morning.  We checked the weather forecast and another twist of fate has it raining, temps in the mid 20s and gusting winds up to 20 miles per hour.   Given the uncertainty of my leg and the weather, only one word summed it up “crap”.

The alarm goes off at 4am.  I do the normal ritual of coffee, reading and taking my meds.  At 5am I start to get ready.  First the sports cream goes on my calf, then my knees, then my lower back and I smell like a Ben Gay factory.  It’s going to be cold, windy and rainy, so I go with a layered approach, two short-sleeved shirts with a long selves over the top.  After taking all my pre-work out meds I pack a bag with everything I would need after the race.  I pin on my number 4589, tie the tracking device to my shoe and its downstairs to meet the crew and head to Solider Field Stadium.

Well it was freaking cold outside and the wind was roaring.  We get into the cab ready to roll.  We get in our groups as every group takes off in 7-minute increments.  At my age, I am the last group to take off and the good news is John from IBM is right there with me.  We take off and well I am feeling pretty good and no pain in my leg.  I did say this was an 11-mile run with obstacles and sure enough even with the brace, sports cream and anti-inflammatory drugs, I start to feel the nagging sensation in my calf.  I will admit that I prayed a lot during the race and I did something that seemed to work and that was to shorten my stride.

Victory for the Old Guys

Now I did this stride thing like 4 times during the race and I must say the obstacles provided some reprieve as well.  There was a three-mile stretch where we ran into the headwind, which was grueling, but the 400-stair climb of Soldier Field would be the real test.  Up one level down another, people are screaming and you can see the look on their faces as they pressed on in obvious agony.  Now all this stair work on my calf was a big challenge.  I did get my second wind there and was really energized when the sign said one mile to go.

We picked up the pace, ran though a sprint section of the course, climbed cargo nets to get over full size school buses and then done.  Wait, we are not done, there is another wall with a rope to climb over and now I have to pick it up to get over the wall.  As I run up to the wall, I am wet, dirty with mud & sand and everything is slippery.  There is a guy kneeling at the wall, he looks at me and I at him.  I glance back at the wall, the rope and the guy again and he says “sir do you need some help?”  I say are you kidding me “hell yes I need your help’ and he says “put your foot on my shoulder’.  As I run to him, I get my foot on his shoulder, he pushes me

Finished! Next Kilimanjaro

up, I say the heck with the rope and go for the top!  I launch myself with the help of my new best friend and with my right hand grab the top of the wall.  With all my strength I hoist my leg over the top and pull myself over.  Once over I hit the ground and run another 50 yards across the finish line.  A little over two hours and 3 months of training and I was able to rise up to the challenge of the mighty Chicago Urbanathlon 2012.

Now on to the next challenge, ascending to the top of Kilimanjaro in “Climbing for the Cure” on February 17th, but before that, heading to Denver for some altitude training.

Posted under General

This post was written by FJ on February 10, 2013

The Journey “2012 Chicago Urbanathlon”

Cuen Kilimanjaro Itinerary

Africa's Mt. Kilimanjaro

Call me crazy, but about 3 months ago I made a decision to go to Tanzania, Africa to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.   I talked to a couple of friends who had expressed some interest and in the end, two of us signed up for the journey that will begin in February.  What is cool to me is the different terrains we will experience as we go from jungle to high desert and finally to the summit where a glacier awaits us at 19,300 feet.  The sad part is the glacier is estimated to melt away in the next 20 years.

With the training that goes into summiting Africa’s highest mountain, I made another decision to test my will power and physical endurance and entered the 2012 Chicago Urbanathlon.  This is a race that takes in 10.8 miles with 11 obstacles scattered throughout the course of the city of Chicago.  When we talked about doing it, it seemed to be a walk in the park.  The only thing is the furthest I have ever run has been 6 miles and that was about 20 years ago.  Now at 55 years old and 10 sports injuries later, I am fit but am I mentally and spiritually tough enough to finish this race.

As of yesterday, I hit my goal of running 12 miles and I have to tell you that it is a long way and it can get boring.  I say again, the training, has been very mental and I can honestly admit to wanting to quit many times during the preparation.  I have had to overcome pain in my knees, my shoulder and most recently fighting cramps in my calves.  I have to remind myself, why am I doing this again?  Some may say that I am crazy and others may say that I am trying to prove something.

There is a country western song titled “Live like you are dying”.  At 55 years old, I have been blessed with a great life, wife, children, friends and the health and means to do things that others may not have the chance to do.  Now living like you’re dying doesn’t mean to kill yourself in the process either.  I am participating for my Lord, my mom, my family and for all those who are in my age group who may not have the physical capacity or the means to participate.  Hopefully, that doesn’t sound prideful or arrogant as that is not my intention.  The real goal is to finish and not end up with a “DNF” (did not finish) next to my name.

Starting this week I will be to easing down, getting a massage on Thursday for my legs in particular, resting on Friday and focus on finishing the race on Saturday.  The biggest challenge I have is the engine (heart & lungs) has the power, but can the suspension (mostly knees) endure the pounding of this mental, physical and spiritual test?  It is mind over matter, but guts, courage and determination is what gets you over the finish line.  Wish me luck and say a prayer that I will survive and be able to report back to you in about a week.

Posted under General

This post was written by FJ on October 7, 2012