Some History (from TBC to Sundog):
Our story goes back to 1989, when under our original name, our company started because the principal of DeKalb High School realized he could no longer get services for free (student labor) and needed to actually pay for the valuable services he was getting. When asked whom to make the check out to, our reply was TBC. What most people never realized was TBC was an acronym for Dan’s BBS (Bulletin Board System). Realize, this is before the Internet was as accessible as it is today. Back then, kids would dial into each other’s computer to share files and information. If you have ever see the movie War Games, you will understand. Well, the name of Dan’s BBS was “The Bandit’s Castle.” Yeah, we know, Bandit’s don’t have castles. They have hideouts or caves. But hey, we were still kids. And so, TBC was born. And to clarify, TBC and Sundog are one in the same. Keep reading… it’s worth it. 😊
Between 1989 and the mid 1990’s, TBC performed odd jobs, mostly technical related, but remained a small shop for years. It was in 1995 when we focused on providing Internet Access to anyone. And so, TBC took a huge step and forayed into a new space of becoming an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Initially, it started off as a couple of external US Robotics modems and some phone lines and with that, we were the first commercial ISP in DeKalb County. Looking back, we can still see those modems sitting on a shelf stacked on top of each other with the blinky lights going--meaning people were dialing in. And yes, we were running the business in the basement of Dan’s apartment building. People would come there and ask us if we were “legit.” It was a crazy but exciting time.
Once word got out that some crazy geeks in the basement of the apartment were the only game in town to get on the Internet, the business grew quickly. In 1998, we became a legitimate business renting 2,000 square feet of office real space. By that time, we were manufacturing our own line of laptops, desktops and servers while becoming the first provider of Broadband by offering DSL connectivity to our clients. Quickly the company grew to occupy 6,000 sq. ft. of space and employ over 20 people. We started another company, DeKalb Fiber Optic, and ended up laying over 140 of fiber optic cabling across DeKalb County lighting up all the schools, municipalities and libraries with super-fast, high speed Internet. We were crushing it. If you needed technology for your business, you came to TBC.
But as times and technology change, so did TBC. In 2012, looking into our crystal ball, we did not see a future in competing with the larger providers like Comcast and Verizon and decided to get out of the ISP side of our business. Since 2012 was still in the wake of the Great Recession, we knew the perception, from an outsider’s perspective, could look like we were going out of business like many businesses had done at that time. So, we met this perception head on.
We moved from our existing facility into 4,000 sq. ft. of beautiful office space on the 3rd floor of 444 E. Hillcrest Dr. in DeKalb. We had a huge grand opening where over 250 people showed to eat burgers, drink beer, go on tours of the office, and hear our story. This was met with huge success and helped us grow our IT business further. But there was more big change coming.
How we got our name:
Phone calls and emails kept coming in asking about Internet Access. Looking at our Google analytics, most of the traffic to our website were people looking for Internet Access. We realized that even though TBC was a great brand, it was synonymous with Internet Access. And so, after 25 years, we decided it was time to rebrand. We needed a name.
One day on a run on an extremely cold winter morning, Cohen Barnes, CEO of TBC, looked up and saw what appeared like two suns in the sky. What he saw was like something out of a Star Wars movie. Like he was on Tatooine. (yeah, he is a nerd at heart) Naturally, he took a picture capturing the image and posted it on Facebook when returning home. After posting the picture on Facebook, posts came streaming in and he learned that what he saw was a Sundog and he was only seeing part of it. (A Sundog is an atrophic phenomenon usually seen in very cold temperatures when the moisture in the air crystalizes forming a reflective surface). His first thought would be that would be a perfect cat’s name. “What’s up Sundog, ‘meow.’” Perfect.
But at the office, as discussion occurred around the name Sundog, we started talking about could this be our next company name? We hired a marketing firm to vet the name to make sure it didn’t stand for something else we were not aware of, and it came back clean. We had a lot of concern about such an unusual name for a company located in “Corn County USA” and its appropriateness. Even though Yahoo, Google, and Go Daddy, were fun names in the tech space, they were national companies. It wasn’t until we thought about the name Caterpillar. Turns out, Caterpillar was named after the insect when the Company photographer in 1904 commented on how slow the tractor moved and Benjamin Holt seized the metaphor and so Caterpillar was the name. Figuring a multibillion-dollar worldwide conglomerate can be named after a bug, Sundog was just fine. And so, TBC became Sundog. Sundog would now focus solely on providing IT services to organizations in Northern Illinois.
A story of growth and community investment
With our growth, it didn’t take long for us to open an office in Rockford, IL to support our growing client base there, while also looking at expanding our operations in DeKalb, IL. Sundog has a long and proud history of community involvement and we realized it was time to make a greater impact on our community. In 2017, we purchased an old vacant building downtown that was rich in local history--the old Malone’s Department Store Building. We completely gutted the entire structure while leaving the original brick walls, wood ceilings and wood floors, and of course, Malone’s scandalous staircase we left in place and modernized the entire building with a focus on accessibility. With a new façade, energy efficient mechanicals, elevator, a ton of technology, and an 1800 pound stone with our logo etched in it and mounted to the front of the building, we are proud to call the new “Sundog” building our home.
The most exciting part is our story is not finished. In fact, our story has just started. We have an amazing team that provides incredible IT support who I hope you get to know if you have read this far. They continue to bring fresh ideas, raise the bar, and drive excellence in our organization which all directly translate to great value to our clients. We can’t wait to share with you what we have planned next…………