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Duty calls businessman

Mountian High Technology 'rescued' by competitor after Marine called

— John Rezzonico thought he’d have to close his Steamboat Springs business when the Marine Corps called and told him he would be required to report for active duty. Now, his stiffest competitor has come to his aid.
Rezzonico, 33, is the owner of Mountain High Technology, a computer consulting and retailing business at 1306 Lincoln Ave. He’s also a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserves specializing in military intelligence and is expected to leave home for active duty any day.
This week, Northwest Data Systems partners Clay Ogden, Jon Quinn and Bryan Bassett agreed to purchase Rezzonico’s business and offer him employment when he returns to civilian life.
It won’t be easy to leave, Rezzonico said. His business is growing and his customers depend on him. Plus, his wife, Jackie, is expecting their first child in July. However, Rezzonico feels a strong devotion to duty and said it was eating him up to watch TV news reports of the war in Iraq and realize that his comrades in arms were serving their country while he was on the sidelines.
At first glance, it appeared Rezzonico had no choice but to sell his successful business under duress. However, both parties in the transaction say they made a fair deal.
“John named his price, and we said, ‘OK,'” Ogden said.
“It was a rescue,” Rezzonico said. “With the length of time I’m going to be gone, I didn’t see any way possible for me to maintain the business. I was going to shut it down. What’s really impressed me is these guys understand my urgency.”
Rezzonico moved to Steamboat Springs in 1998 after leaving active duty with the Marines. He had served for six years, including a tour in the Persian Gulf War.
In 2000, he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps.
“It’s hard to get it out of your blood,” Rezzonico said. “I just missed it.”
Upon moving to Steamboat, he immediately became involved in Routt County Search and Rescue. He went to work at Mountain High where his service background as an electronics technician made him a good fit. He purchased the business last June.
Originally, Rezzonico expected to be called up in late summer 2003. At that time, he had a chance conversation with Ogden while purchasing some computer cable from him. The two businesses represent each other’s stiffest competition — they often take customers from one another. But their relationship was one of mutual respect.
Rezzonico mentioned his predicament and Ogden replied, “Maybe we can help you out.”
The matter was put on hold for a period of months until Rezzonico was called to duty. Then, the two businesses began negotiating in earnest.
Now, the timetable for Rezzonico’s return to active duty is accelerated, and an anticipated transition period with Rezzonico on the job has disappeared.
“We had plans for the transition to last through June,” Rezzonico said. “I called them and said, ‘You know what? All that time we had — it’s gone.'”
Ogden and his partners, who haven’t had a retail storefront before, will take over the store this week so Rezzonico can attend to family matters.
Northwest Data Systems deals with telephone technology. Now, it has abruptly acquired Mountain High’s Sprint PCS mobile phone business.
Rezzonico said Northwest Data’s willingness to make a fair offer for his business has relieved him of tremendous responsibility to his customers, suppliers and suppliers.
“I have a lot of people who totally depend on me,” he said. “Their livelihoods depend on computers.”
Northwest Data also was willing to retain Mountain High employee Austin Murkland, something that was very important to Rezzonico.
Rezzonico said it is difficult for him to explain to people the range of emotions he feels about going back on active duty when his wife is expecting a child in less than two months. On one level he is conflicted. He says 100 percent of him wants to be with his wife, and yet, 100 percent of him wants to fulfill his role as a Marine. One thing that is certain is that he is not conflicted about U.S. policies or the validity of the mission in Iraq. He feels strongly that media coverage of the conflict overemphasizes the violence and underemphasizes the work being done to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, institutions and society.
“I’m sure my time will be well spent. I truly feel that every Marine can make a difference,” Rezzonico said. “There’s nothing I’ve ever done that compares to how proud I am of being in the Marine Corps. It’s made me who I am.”


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