Initially, Larry Sudbay’s impetus for writing a book was to create a legacy for his wife Jan and sons, Will and Charlie, with a secondary goal of providing some ideas for business leaders to use to either start or end meetings.
It took a conversation with the man who would eventually provide illustrations for the book for Sudbay to realize his book “The Best Is Yet To Be: A Collection of Inspirational Stories, Illustrations and Quotations” could have a broader audience.
Sudbay is often asked how long it took him to write the book and his response is that when it was published in 2018, he was 61 years old and that’s how long it took. He credits his father, mother and uncle with having been great storytellers. He didn’t want those stories to get lost.
Sudbay had a lengthy career as an entrepreneur. In 1996, he and Pat Robbins founded Symquest, which provides managed IT and office equipment services. Sudbay soon began sending out a monthly newsletter with stories about work-life balance, customer service, resiliency, grief, challenges and positive thinking.
When Sudbay and Robbins started the company, they had 100 employees with revenues of $9 million a year. By the time they sold the business, they had 180 employees with revenues of $40 million, in work across Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and upstate New York. The company was so successful that Senator Leahy read a commendation of the business into the Congressional Record in 2008.
In 2017, Sudbay sold Symquest and ceded his role as president and CEO to Meg Fleming. While cleaning out his desk he found 15 years’ worth of newsletters. He began to sort them into piles and eventually came up with one pile which had stories he wanted to retain and turn into a book. Each story had a quote which he believed could stand on its own. Forty of the stories were his and 15 came from other sources. Although most of the stories are business-related, Sudbay said the book also has a spiritual component.
It was only when he met with Steven Kellogg, a children’s book author and illustrator from Essex, N.Y., that Sudbay realized his book could have a larger impact. He had been excited to meet Kellog, who had written “The Island of the Skog,” which Sudbay’s son Charlie had memorized as a boy. Sudbay was hoping to get a signed copy of the book for Charlie’s 27th birthday but ended up getting much more.
In return for a contribution to the Essex Humane Society, Sudbay asked for a painting of the family’s two yellow labs for Charlie. Kellogg decided to include all the characters from Charlie’s favorite childhood book in the artwork. Sudbay then asked Kellog if he would make some illustrations for the book he was writing but Kellog said the stories stood on their own. Instead, he made eight illustrations and a cover which commemorated events in Sudbay’s life and convinced the author that his book should have a wider audience.
Upon leaving Symquest, Sudbay launched a consulting firm called Building Quality Companies. He continued to consult with Symquest and other technology companies across the United States and Canada. Sudbay recently stepped back from Building Quality Companies, having passed the torch to the Goodreau Performance Group. The only part of his portfolio that he’ll retain is his consulting work with Symquest.
Sudbay and his wife enjoy engaging in philanthropic work. They started an endowment in his father’s name for the otolaryngology department at University of Vermont Medical Center for the advancement of ear, nose and throat research and technology.
Sudbay also serves on the board of Knowledge Wave Training and is an angel investor with Prolocor, a local start-up doing research on blood platelet analysis. “Jan and I look at local business that we can be involved in and make a difference,” Sudbay said.
Sudbay and his wife have lived in Charlotte since 2006. Although they love to travel, they are equally happy hiking and walking locally with their dog Cooper. Sudbay has also co-authored a just-released book called “Reveal: Your Guide to Building a Quality Company” with Joe Goodreau, the man who purchased Building Quality Companies. Sudbay loves to cook and is in the process of collaborating with his wife on a cookbook with 50 recipes. He said the book is designed to encourage people, particularly men, to spend time in the kitchen.
Sudbay admits that he’s been called a bubble boy because of his optimism. “The glass isn’t half empty or half full,” he said. “It’s been overengineered and it’s too big.”