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Happy 10th Anniversary, Josh!

by Mark Soldavini, on October 14, 2015

Josh Billigmeier

Today, we’re celebrating Josh’s ten year anniversary at Fireside21, but that’s not quite the whole story. Before he officially joined the team as an employee, along with Jeff Mascott, Josh bootstrapped our first product. Today, we call it Fireside Web. That product is the literal and figurative platform that we built Fireside21 upon. So in reality, Josh has been a part of Fireside21 before Fireside21 was even on the market.

Jeff recently said:

I can't think of anyone else who has challenged me and my thinking in a positive way more than Josh. He is both a strong leader and caring and compassionate. He is thoughtful, direct, dedicated and well rounded. Josh is a true Renaissance man.

A little while back I crossed this same milestone at Fireside21 and Josh wrote a very kind blog. There was one thing, however, that I disagreed with in that post. He said, “I'm more of a cut-corners and ship-it guy,” which is not at all the case. 

In practice, Josh has adopted and deployed agile principles of rapid iteration for our development team, but he is not a “cut-corners” guy. In fact, there is a high degree of virtue all throughout Josh’s life. It’s not uncommon for Josh and I to discuss complex problems about Fireside21 and our products. Eventually, these end with Josh saying, “We’ll do the right thing.” And I know that’s exactly what will happen.

When Josh officially joined the team as an employee it signified a dramatic new vision and goal for the company. We decided to expand the capabilities of the web platform to include a comprehensive suite of constituent relationship management tools. In those early years, Josh didn’t just lead the software development effort, he was our one-man programming team!

The initial versions of Fireside Email and Fireside CRM were entirely programmed by Josh. As Kenny said:

If it weren't for Josh, there would be no Fireside21 and I'd be hanging out in Longworth without any real purpose. I can't even imagine the horror.

Eventually, our wolf-pack of one expanded and Josh assumed responsibility for recruiting all of the talented members of his team. In addition to full-time developers, Josh recruits undergraduate computer science majors to be interns and plays a significant role during the interview process for all new employees. 

Lauren, who recently joined the account team, said:

The biggest impact Josh has had on me was during my interview. He told me that I was the least experienced applicant and then asked why Fireside21 should hire me. I realized how much he cared about the team and task here at Fireside21.

By the way, Lauren was 12...and a half...when Josh was hired.

It is tough to describe what Josh does on a day to day basis. Not that it’s a mystery, it’s tough because he plays such a large, wide-ranging role. Of course, he leads our product development team which requires long-term planning and short-term execution. He often shoulders the technical load for special projects that don’t have a clear home. Plus, he leads our fun committee in party and happy-hour planning. 

Scott summed it up this way:

In these past 10 years, Josh has been the guarantor of fun times, the arbiter of our product roadmap, and the bouncer at the door of engineering productivity. He is the living embodiment of the Fireside21 ethos. Long live Josh Billigmeier.

The company today is much different that it was ten years ago. Likewise, Josh has grown and expanded his expertise to match the needs of the business. Josh is always looking for a process to be optimized, a problem to be solved, or a complexity to be simplified. He is a great asset to our entire team.

Josh is also a great father and husband. He has three children with his wife of fifteen years, Joanna. Some of you might know that all his children have been adopted with medical conditions. I personally have wondered how hard is must be to open one’s heart and give so much love with these risky circumstances and unknown outcomes. 

He explained to me once how when you are in the process of adoption, you review a lot of files, kind of like resumes. It’s easy to think of this as trying to find a good candidate for your family. But what Josh said to me was kids with special medical needs require a family with a particular resume. From that perspective, there are not a lot of options for these kids, but the Billigmeier family is a perfect match.

Caitlin helps us understand all of Josh’s virtue well in saying:

Josh has been an inspiration since the first day I met him. He is the kindest, most loving person with his family and is always optimistic with his work life. Even though some days, it is hard to swallow the challenges life hands us, Josh smiles and knows that everything will work out. He makes me want to be a better person and always reminds me to dream big.

In short, none of us would be here without Josh’s vital contribution to both get this company off the ground and then expand our services. Today, you’ll still find a lot of “Josh code” in the product, but his impact goes far beyond the code base.

Thank you Josh, and congratulations!

Fireside Fun Committee
Our Fireside Fun Committee Co-Chairs, Caitlin and Josh.
Topics:Small Business