Meet Your Ambassador - Gary Sibbitts,
founder, Z-KNOW Computing Solutions…and Chamber Ambassador
Growing up on a dairy farm in a small farming/college town located 20 minutes from the Canadian border in Canton, NY, I spent a lot of time shoveling manure. In the years since leaving the farm, I have yet to work at any job that didn’t have a certain amount of manure to deal with.
As a farm kid, active in 4‑H and the local Methodist church, I consider myself lucky to have been instilled with a classic Protestant work ethic. I learned how to be kind and respectful from both my home and church families. As a 4‑H’er, I was indoctrinated with the guiding principle of continual improvement of myself and others with the 4‑H motto, “To make the best better”. To this day, I continue to be shaped and guided by these principles.
Growing up wasn’t all hard work and no fun. In high school, I had a math teacher that taught me so much. It was because of him that I chose to pursue a career as a math teacher myself. He also introduced me to the fine art of puns. His last name was Coir, so I always referred to his jokes as “Coirny” jokes. I attribute my love of that special brand of humor along with my love of problem solving and the ability to think in the abstract to my liberal arts math education.
I never did find my way to a career as a high school math teacher, although eventually I did have a 14-year career as a professor teaching computer classes at Meramec, before my current profession as a consultant. So, what happened between then and now? Quite a bit actually. After graduating college, I got married to a farmer’s daughter and fellow 4‑H’er, not an unusual occurrence at all. It took me a while to get my bearings. I even spent time selling life insurance, which for me turned out to provide one final principle for me, that being able to listen to your customer to find out what they’re looking for and then convince them that what you have is what they’re looking for. And that is how I got my break with AT&T in Piscataway, NJ, the second time I interviewed with them.
My first position with AT&T, after completing their 3-month programmer basic training program was an internal consultant to internal mid-level managers developing custom reports. New Jersey was a pretty expensive place to live, and as a family of three, it wasn’t going to get any better. So, I left NJ for a brief stint with PPG in the wonderful location of Lake Charles, LA. That only lasted 7 months before leaving for Dallas, TX. This was where I learned about the other Big-D, divorce. Not a fun time at all.
As we all know, when one door closes, another one opens. And when it did, that’s when Terry walked into my life for the first time. She was in our company’s Chicago office and I in the Dallas office. We met at the company Christmas party and really hit it off. Unfortunately, I felt like I still had some unfinished business related to my first marriage and we broke up on Valentine’s Day, after giving each other the exact same card!
Fast forward a couple of years and Terry has moved back to St. Louis, where she grew up, and I have this crazy idea for a line of “Couch Potato” t-shirts. Spuds MacKenzie was a big deal at the time and I couldn’t resist the pun. And so, Terry helped me create the “Spectater” t-shirt and “Punlimited” was born and I moved to St. Louis. I would like to add that at the time we reunited, Terry had just been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32 and had a radical mastectomy. And now, she is the mother of 4 children, including my daughter, and a 29+ year cancer survivor.
By now you know that I could go on and on, but I won’t. If you want to know more about me, the story behind the name of my company, or are interested in getting your database system to communicate with your QuickBooks system, I’m pretty easy to get hold of and I’m always amenable to bending an elbow at a local watering hole.
Gary Sibbitts, Founder, Z-KNOW Computing Solutions
321 N. Harrison, Kirkwood, MO 63122