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Women Of The Channel Pioneer Laurie Dasher Mourned As ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Dasher Technologies

‘The biggest thing about Laurie is she had the biggest heart in the world,’ says Chris Saso, who met Laurie in the early nineties and was employee No. 4 at Dasher. ‘Laurie was always looking out for others. Laurie was passionate about the Dasher family. She built a business family that was like her personal family. She took so much pride and joy in that. She was the heart and soul of the company.’

Laurie Dasher, a pioneering women of the channel who founded and built Dasher Technologies into one of the most respected solution providers in the country, has passed away.

Dasher, 54, CEO of Dasher, Campbell, Calif., No. 128 on the CRN 2020 SP500, died suddenly on Oct. 14.

Dasher, who was recognized seven consecutive years by CRN as a leading Women of the Channel honoree, is being mourned as the giving heart and soul of both the company and her family.

“The biggest thing about Laurie is she had the biggest heart in the world,” said Dasher Technologies Chief Technology Officer Chris Saso, who met Laurie in the early nineties and was employee No. 4 at Dasher. “Laurie was always looking out for others. Laurie was passionate about the Dasher family. She built a business family that was like her personal family. She took so much pride and joy in that. She was the heart and soul of the company”

In fact, Dasher Technologies’ success was in large part due to her insistence that customers be treated like family. That was embodied in the Dasher Technologies’ mantra “We Take IT Personally,” which inspired employees to look at every customer as a member of the Dasher family, said Saso.

“It wasn’t just a business relationship – it was personal,” said Saso of the Dasher culture that she created. “We care about you. That was the kind of attitude Laurie always had. We took our customers’ challenges like they were our own. That tagline ‘We Take IT Personally’ embodies what has made Dasher and even Laurie herself different.”

Dasher built the company that beared her name into one of the best and brightest solution providers in the country. Dasher Technologies – renowned for its top engineering talent- has earned numerous CRN awards over the years including Tech Elite 250, Fast Growth 150 and SP500.

Saso – who left NetApp to join Dasher Technologies as a sales rep in the early days of the company - said Laurie Dasher’s leadership qualities and strength drew him to the company. “You have to trust in a leader and know they will make you stronger,” he said. “I had two kids at the time, but I believed in Laurie. As a leader, she instilled in us the ability to do more than you think you could on your own.”

Saso recalled Dasher encouraging him to coach his kids’ soccer team. “She expected us to work hard but also to be with our families,” he said. “She wanted to make sure we didn’t miss that part of our lives.”

Dasher was always making sure that the company celebrated the major milestones in its employees’ lives whether it was a new baby or a birthday.

Saso recounted the story of a Dasher Technologies employee from Oregon’s last meeting with Laurie. The employee recalled Dasher stopping her car as she was pulling out of the parking lot, getting out of the car, asking how he was doing and giving him a hug. “Laurie always knew it was all about the people, and she never forgot that,” said Saso. “Laurie always connected with people.”

One example of Dasher’s giving heart was her frequent charitable efforts which she never mentioned, said Saso. “Laurie’s whole life was looking out for others,” he said. “That is reflected in the Dasher culture. Everybody loved Laurie.”

As a young girl growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Dasher learned how to fish from her dad, Ted, and then worked side by side with him at his company, Ted Dasher and Associates, one of the premier Hewlett Packard resellers.

Ted Dasher was a member of a pioneering South Florida family that was among the early settlers in Key West. He was an adventurer, entrepreneur and avid salt water sports fisherman – all traits that a young Laurie latched onto growing up in Alabama.

Laurie Dasher, who like her dad loved Key West and traveling with her family, graduated with a degree in international business from Auburn University where she was on the Board of the College of Business At Auburn and was recognized as an Auburn Top Tiger alumni award winner.

In the early nineties, Laurie Dasher learned the trial and tribulations of being an entrepreneur in the intensely competitive technology solutions business, working side by side with her father.

When Ted Dasher was offered an opportunity by HP to open a reseller business in California, he declined, but told HP his daughter would be the ideal person to start a new solution provider business in Silicon Valley. As a result, she founded Dasher Technologies in 1999 as the dot.com boom took hold.

Laurie Dasher took to running her own business like a fish to water, reveling in providing customers with technology solutions and building an extended family with both her employees and customers.

In the early Dasher Technologies years, she was a one-woman powerhouse, building the company one sale at a time. Dasher was proud of the fact that she herself made the first partner-led sale of an HP XP Disk Array storage solution on the West Coast.

Dasher met her future husband, John Vigliecca, in the sales trenches, competing against him. Vigliecca worked for a competing HP reseller at the time. What started as friendly exchanges between two competitors blossomed into a romance when they met at an HP trade show.

Vigliecca – president and chief operating officer of Dasher Technologies- joined the company in in 2001. Together they had two sons: Jared, 19, who attends Puget Sound University, and Alex, 17, a Saratoga California High School student.

Even as she was building Dasher Technologies, Dasher was a dedicated mother to Jared and Alex, bringing them to work, always making time for them in the midst of a hectic schedule.

“Laurie raised two boys while she was building this company, so she was a super parent as well as a super business person,” said Saso. “Think about how hard that had to be for her. I can remember Jared and Alex coming to the office where there was a workspace set up for them. Laurie had so much energy, tenacity, knowledge and strength. She was a bulldog.”

Dasher Chief Financial Officer Michael Cook, who has seen his share of the challenges women face in the technology business, said Dasher is simply the most remarkable female business owner he has met in 30 years. “Even now there are not that many female CEO business owners, and back in 1999 when she started Dasher there were even fewer,” Cook said. “Laurie built Dasher from the ground up. She dived in, rolled up her sleeves and solved any and all problems that customers had. She was a driven leader that always strived for success.”

Dasher made sure that employees always made decisions to build life-long customer relationships- even if it meant sacrificing profits on a deal. “She made sure we were always looking at the long game- taking care of the customer for the long term- even if it meant not making money on a deal,” said Cook.

Dasher herself called that customer-for-life focus “doing the right thing even when nobody is looking.”

For Dasher doing the right thing meant always taking time for her two sons– whether it was taking them to band practices or on family vacations. She was always present, supporting and encouraging them in all their endeavors.

“One of the things that I admired about Laurie is she was a fantastic mother,” said Cook. “She was very involved with her children. I remember going to her house for dinner and Laurie taking the time to make sure that they had a healthy meal and that they actually finished their vegetables. A lot of parents would have been focused just on the dinner guests, but Laurie made sure that the kids finished their broccoli.”

Laurie was soft spoken, humble and down to earth, even with all her success, said Cook, who misses the daily calls with Laurie. “She liked her Jeep Wrangler and eating at informal places like a Key West restaurant where you would bring your catch and they would cook it for you.”

Dasher- an accomplished sport fisherman who won scores of deep sea fishing tournament trophies and holds the world record for a mangrove snapper catch- would often send back vacuum-packed catches back to the office to share with employees.

“Laurie would bring back coolers and coolers of fish to the office,” said Saso, recalling his boss’s generosity. “There were a lot of dinners on Laurie from her fishing trips. I looked at it as Laurie providing for her Dasher family.”

Cook, for his part, said Dasher taught him how to fish in the ocean. “I had never done that before,” he said. “I remember fishing with Laurie on a windy day, catching fish fast and furious and at one point Laurie turned to me said – ‘You are covered in fish blood’ and we both started laughing.”

Dasher was viewed by peers and even industry CEOs as both a passionate advocate for women in the channel and a respected CEO. Former Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman had regular exchanges with Dasher about business and the challenges women faced in the technology industry. “Laurie would always speak up whether it was an issue specific to the channel or related to women in the channel,” said Cook.

Laurie’s passing comes just 10 months after the passing of her 80-year-old father. Besides Vigliecca and her two sons, she leaves her mother, Carole, and her brother, Ted Dasher Jr., who is a solutions architect at Dasher Technologies.

“Laurie would always say that her brother was the smart one,” said Cook. “She was the more pragmatic one with a strong streak of stubbornness that she inherited from her father. Her dad was very proud of Laurie. He saw the thriving business that Laurie had built up.”

Cook recalls going on fishing trips with Dasher and her father along with Dasher Technologies customers. “They both were very driven individuals and got along very well,” he said. “He taught his daughter how to fish and how to build a business. Many times when she would bring customers to Key West he would join them as well.”

All of Dasher Technologies’ employees – many who have worked there for more than a decade - are determined to carry on her legacy by working hard to ensure the company continues to embrace customers as an extension of the Dasher family.

“Laurie instilled a strong sense of culture and integrity in all of the Dasher employees,” said Dasher Account Executive Angela Armstrong, an 11-year Dasher Technologies veteran. “That is why our clients have been so loyal. She built a sense of family not only with employees but clients. She is going to be missed. She is one of the few women CEOs in the channel and was well-respected in the vendor community. As a company, we want to continue her legacy and keep the values that Laurie instilled when she started the company in 1999.”

Saso, for his part, said even with her passing Laurie remains an indefatigable presence with employees responding to one situation after another by asking, “What would Laurie do?”

“The obvious answer is do the right thing when nobody is looking,” he said. “That is the litmus test that all of us can use as we go forward collectively. Laurie is going to guide us from above. That is how we are going to keep the heart and soul of Dasher and keep the memory of Laurie alive.”

Dasher Technologies is planning a virtual celebration of its founder’s life and is also requesting that donations in her memory be made to her favorite organizations: Autism Speaks, The American Cancer Society, Reef Relief, and the SPCA.

Mimi Schilling, a niece who wrote a heart-felt tribute to Laurie on Facebook, remembered her as a “CEO in camping sandals” headed to camp in a treehouse in Costa Rica with her two boys.

“She loved to be on a dusty, rusty floating wooden fishing dock surrounded by bloody-handed fishermen filleting fresh-caught wahoo and snapper,” said Schilling. “She loved to be drinking a cold Corona on a fast boat. She loved to be in Key West walking its streets surrounded by the memories of her family’s deep roots in South Florida.”

Schilling said she is grateful for all the life lessons Laurie quietly imparted to her. “She was part of our family for many years -- so many, it’s hard to remember when she wasn’t part of our family. I counted her as a cherished aunt, but also a confidant and best friend,” she said.

“Her spirit and memory stay with us and I know she is happily floating on a raft at the big pool party in the sky, ice-cold Corona in hand,” said Schilling. “We love and miss you Laurie Dasher.”

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