Coffee Hour with Beat

In 2004 Florida was hit by a series of Hurricanes, and parts of Central Florida were without power for weeks. Fortunately, Avalon Park Orlando retained power the entire time and as well had people who were deciding to start a new business during this crisis.

Back in those days, the summer of 2004, I received a letter from a lady by the name of Vicky Ibaugh. The letter explained that her husband’s company (Space Imaging, a Lockheed Martin company) was being sold and he would like to start on his own company if he could find the right partner. The letter ended with the phone number of Allen Ibaugh. When I called him, he had no idea that his wife had sent me the note, and was a bit nervous, because I apparently had information which was not yet public knowledge. However, a week later I got a well written business plan from Allen and his partner Jason Amadori. I learned from that communication that Allen and his family moved to Avalon Park in 1999 when they purchased house number 9 (and still lives here).

The investment rules were clear, as they are today; if we like the business, if it is good for all in Avalon Park, and the applicant is committed, to live, learn, and play in Avalon Park, we fund it. In the case of Allen, it was easy, not only did we like the business and it was a good fit for Avalon, he and his family had already lived in Avalon Park for 5 years. As a matter of fact, I showed the business plan to my wife Jill, a CPA, and she truly liked it. So, it was even easier…. Avalon Park resident, good business plan, and my wife liked it as well, done deal.

We were scheduled to sign the partnership agreement in September 2004. Then believe it or not, lightning struck our office building in Avalon Park, we lost power. After going through 4 Hurricanes without losing any power, we were not sure if this was a sign to not go ahead with this business. However, we “manually” signed the partnership agreement and DATA TRANSFER SOLUTIONS, LLC was born.

So here we go, an Avalon Park resident, with a good idea, in a crisis, in need of some seed money, office space, infrastructure and business advice. Data Transfer Solutions became a giant in the world of Geographical Information Systems. Allen even became the Chairman of the international not-for-profit GIS world organization. Additionally, DTS grew to become a 2-digit million dollar company, 100 employees (most of them working in the heart of Avalon Park Orlando), great high paying technology jobs and they opened offices in 8 different states across the country, and had footholds in Switzerland and Canada. In 2017, the company was sold to one of the largest engineering firms in the world England’s Aktins group. Today a 2-digit billion dollar powerhouse, with headquarter in Montreal, and one of the largest Canadian companies, SNC Lavelin. Data Transfer Solutions Florida is still headquartered in Avalon Park and Allen is still the CEO and still lives in Avalon Park.

Data Transfer Solutions is the startup model every economic development council is chasing. This is why we again reached out in a crisis to find people brave enough to start a business. Talking about Data Transfer Solutions’ founder Allen Ibaugh, he became a great partner of Avalon Park Group, a good friend and a true Avalon Park stakeholder. His family has lived in Avalon Park For over 20 years, and just the other day, as I got a head start into the office, I saw him jobbing before 6:00 a.m. through the community. Was Allen looking for start-up capital at the time more than 15 years ago? Yes, he was, and yes, he got it. However, money was not the most important for Allen, it was the ability to start a business in a non- bureaucratic way, have likeminded entrepreneurs giving advice, and being able to strategize. More important to have a business in a community where his wife Vicky could work from home, his Son Erik could go to school from Elementary to Middle and to High School. Allen travelled a lot for DTS, but he always came home to Avalon Park.

WOW! How many business plans do you think we received? 20? 50? 100? NO OVER 150 entrepreneurs submitted their applications! Can you believe this? 150+ brave entrepreneurs who want to start (most of them), expand or diversify a business, and all willing to make the heart of their entrepreneurial undertaking in Avalon Park Orlando.

We will be busy in the next few weeks analyzing plans, dialoging with the applicants, making decisions and getting the ball rolling on getting these businesses moving.

This is exciting, and I would bet another million dollars, that in 5 years from now, this initiative will have created many successful companies and many high paying jobs and we will be telling their success story.

 

Beat Kahli