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Meet Ray Zuckerman of ServerLIFT in Central Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ray Zuckerman.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved out here in 1986 to merge my photographic business with a competitor. I grew the business to 6 times its original size and shifted to a contract manufacturing business, as the demand for conventional photography declined to near zero. I sold the business to my partners in 1995, and started Raytech Corporation as a consultancy, which my son David and I ran for about 12 years.

David and I had a client who asked us to do some illustrations of their general concept in order for them to make a presentation to potential investors. We provided the requested illustrations and went back to our business. These illustrations were for a data center lift and would serve as the foundation for ServerLIFT. After a period of time, our client was unable to raise the necessary funds.

David and I worked with them to develop a comprehensive business plan including projections and a SWOT analysis. We spent a year building a plan and a corporate structure. To start the company, we put in some money and we found an investor. ServerLIFT started small and had our manufacturing outsourced. We did all of the sales and marketing. Eventually, we partnered with our client and shifted all our efforts from Raytech to ServerLIFT.

As our company grew, we went from a single office, then added a warehouse and a showroom. As we continued to grow, we did more of the manufacturing ourselves.

Two years ago, we consolidated our operations from 3 buildings to 1 in Central Phoenix. When we started, we only sold in the US. As we grow, our data center lifts are used in 60+ countries around the world, including the Middle East, Far East, Australia, and South America.

Initially, we started with one data center lift, which was a “one size fits all.” As we became more experienced and better understand the needs of data center managers, we continued to expand our product line to be able to lift heavier IT equipment and make, once difficult, server installations safe and efficient.

We are continuing to grow and add data center lifts and accessories. We started out with almost no employees and today, we have almost 30 employees.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like any startup, company funds were always an issue. We started out managing our money day-to-day. A major obstacle was that we had to develop credibility with the biggest companies in the world, despite the fact that we were a tiny company. We solved this by providing a money back guarantee. We also pay the return freight if they were unsatisfied.

Learning to deal with international customers was another challenge. We had time zone differences, money differences, and language challenges. We worked with the Export-Import Bank and the Department of Commerce to guide us through these issues.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with ServerLIFT – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Data centers commonly move their heavy equipment by hand, using a team of people, or with devices that are not designed for the job. ServerLIFT’s task is to make it safer and easier to handle servers and IT equipment in large data centers. “Handling” refers to the transportation, positioning, and installation of equipment into the server cabinets and racks. Our customers tend to be large, including the biggest brands in the world.

What makes our lifts unique is that they are the only devices that can assist a data center technician to be able to install and remove IT equipment, up to 1,000 lbs., with one person. And since the lifts are designed for the data center, they can be used in tight spaces, high server racks and even low ceilings. Most other lifts are not designed for the data center and when used, can result in dropped equipment, broken bones or serious back injury.

Firstly, one thing I’m proud of is that ServerLIFT went from zero to a company that ships all over the world. Another, has been watching our employees grow and mature in their positions. Also, it was having all the people that invest in our company make a profit.

The singular event I am most proud of is when ServerLIFT was awarded the “President’s E Award for Excellence in Exporting.” It was presented by Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce in Washington, DC.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
SeverLIFT has been developing and manufacturing high quality solutions for handling data center equipment. We started with one device and continued to create new and innovative ones.

Currently, we have a product roadmap based on feedback that we have received from our customers. (Some of whom include the largest companies in the world)

Each year, we revise our three-year roadmap based on where data center trends are going and the new problems that need to be solved.

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