COMMENTARY

Remembering Harry Heisler

EDITOR'S NOTE: Harry B. Heisler, a longtime government IT executive, died last week. A memorial service was held Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Hyatt at Fair Lakes Circle in Fairfax, Va.

Many of those in the government contracting market today did not know Harry B. Heisler, but if you were around in the late 1980s through the early 2000s -- the early days of selling PCs and peripherals to the government, when resellers ruled -- you knew him or felt his presence. Harry was vice president of marketing at GTSI when the company was the main game in town, and Harry was one of the major reasons it became the main game.

I knew Harry during most of his 10-year tenure at GTSI, and then had the pleasure of consulting with him when he was running the government division of Micron PC (MPC). Although competing directly with Dell and Gateway, with a much smaller budget than either, Harry was able to significantly grow MPCs government business. Though I had the three-legged flight to their headquarters in Boise, Idaho, the trip was worth it because meeting with Harry and his staff was always a blast.

Harry was not known for subterfuge or subtlety -- you always knew where he stood. If you worked for him, you also knew he had your back. Everyone I know who worked for him said basically the same thing: He was a great guy to work for and with his team you were always a contender.

He called me two weeks ago to tell me he was retiring and heading to the beach in North Carolina. He did not tell me he was dying of cancer, but he called to say goodbye. More than a few people have told me they received a similar call, yet none suspected it was the goodbye call.

If I have one regret, it is that I never wrote a LinkedIn recommendation for Harry, so here it goes:

There are many people who helped mentor me and shape my career: Harry was one of them, and close to the top of the list. There are not that many people who really helped develop and shape the contracting community: Harry was among them, especially in the “wild west” days of the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are few people who really make this a fun market to be in, and Harry was always on my short list for this. The market will be diminished without you, my friend.

A "Remembering Harry" page has been set up to share memories and thoughts about Harry.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

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