The bulk of my career (twenty years minus one month) was spent with a company that changed hands several times while I was there. When I started, it was Management Science America, or MSA. After another company, Mine Safety Appliances, who also called themselves MSA, objected and took my MSA to court, we had to be sure to indicate that we were "MSA, The Financial Software Company" (later just "MSA, The Software Company") and we gave them a free license to our Payroll system, which I believe they run to this day.
Whenever someone started with the company, they were given a Tiffany key pin like the one shown above, a large one for the women, a small one for the men. Our corporate motto was "People Are The Key," and it was a way to remind our clients (and ourselves) of that. When you started, they gave you a silver key. After five years, they gave you a gold one, and after 10 years, the women received a gold key with a pretty good-sized diamond in it, while the men received both a gold key with a tiny diamond and a clock. I received my gold key in July 1989; four months later, we were sold to Dun & Bradstreet, who owned our biggest competitor. D&B announced their intention to merge the two software companies together, and we were ordered to 86 the keys.
The president and CEO of MSA was a man named John Imlay. He owned the majority of the stock, and when the sale was complete, he became a very wealthy man, in addition to remaining as CEO (and having the opportunity to fire his counterpart with the company we merged with). He decided to take the money he made and start The Imlay Foundation, which "helps entrepreneurial and established community organizations expand their capabilities and reach," according to its website. The keys had been John’s idea (you never called him Mr. Imlay; I did once and he told me "Mr. Imlay was my father, I’m John"), and since we were no longer using the key device, he adapted and adopted it for his foundation. He retired after about five years and spent the rest of his life running his foundation, playing golf, purchasing a minority interest in the Atlanta Falcons, and going around making speeches. He passed away in 2015.
Meanwhile, the rest of us poor bastards who were left behind had to learn to work together. As one friend of mine put it in an all-company meeting after the sale, "who are we supposed to hate now?" Another friend said that our new motto was "No longer to be confused with Mine Safety Appliances." (He had a bunch of them, including "It’s not just software, it’s one damn thing after another.") It gets complicated after that…
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