(Editor’s note: We received the following remembrance written by Jennie Fisher from Josie Heskje at GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp. on Friday, March 15. The Cannata Report shares they deepest sympathies with Nate’s family and his co-workers at GreatAmerica.)
We are deeply saddened by the death of Nate Lankford, a long-time member of the GreatAmerica family and a dear friend to many. Nate passed unexpectedly on February 28, 2019, at his home in Colorado.
GreatAmerica’s Nate Lankford and his wife Deedra at a recent industry event.
Nate joined GreatAmerica in 2004 as a regional sales representative, building his territory up from zero and ultimately finishing his career at GreatAmerica as the third highest in sales of all time in the Office Equipment Group.
Nate was a genuinely good person and highly respected in the office technology industry. But most importantly, he was a loving husband and father to Deedra and their five children.
A family man first
I enjoyed listening to Nate talk about his children; nothing made him more proud. He’d share the trials and tribulations of having five children, four of which were teenagers. He wanted nothing but the best for his kids and that included their happiness and success. I think that motivated him to do as well as he did with his work.
Over the years I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with Deedra. Our traditional party with field sales the night before our Annual Awards Banquet was always a great time and I so enjoyed catching up with her.
Greg VanDeWalker, our Senior VP IT Channel and Services, had the privilege of hiring Nate and working side by side with him for the first five years of his tenure at GreatAmerica. Greg said Nate and Deedra lived in Kansas City at the time and they were looking to move to Colorado due to health reasons of one of their children. Greg noted that at the time, Nate had a very successful career but it was family first.
Remembered for his achievements
Nate had a strong work ethic. Over time, he earned the GreatAmerica Sales Achiever Award seven times, the highest recognition for our company’s sales function. Nate was instrumental in helping form our original field sales structure and even became Vice President of Sales for a time, only to return to full-time selling. While he cared for and enjoyed mentoring the sales reps, working directly with our amazing GreatAmerica customers was his passion.
When we hired Nate, we didn’t have a big territory to offer him. Instead, we only had a vision. Greg VanDeWalker remembers Nate having zero accounts on day one. Everything he built, he did it himself. When you consider the many talented reps over time in OEG, it is amazing that Nate was the third highest in sales ever at GreatAmerica. “Being number three all-time was not what made Nate special in my mind,” said Greg. “The number three ranking is what he did, what made Nate beloved by customers and coworkers is how he did it. Sales is the hardest job in business. You have to be able to keep your customer happy and keep your company happy at the same time. We all know there are many situations where the requests of the customer don’t fit the scope of the business. Nate was able to skillfully and respectfully navigate the fine line of pushing the company and managing the expectations of the customers.”
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