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Get to Know: Senior Software Engineer Garritt Grandberg

What’s your favorite thing about working at Visionary?

It is so difficult to boil it down to just one thing. Above all else I, 100 percent, believe in what VSi stands for – from how we treat our employees to how we go about our development processes. My belief is founded on nearly 20 years of experience with VSi and is extremely comforting. That is my favorite thing.

How did you end up at Visionary?

I took a bit of a “Family Circus” route through college so I will try to keep it short and hit the main pieces.  I started off in flight school at the University of Dubuque. I was doing very well and absolutely loved flying but in my sophomore year a few of my friends that had graduated came back and talked some about their post-college experiences.

After mulling over what I had heard I decided a professional flying career may not be for me. I had done some programming in high school and a little on my own, so I switched over to computer science with a focus on programming.

It turned out programming was a very good match for me, and I excelled to the point where I still finished in four years even though I switched majors a year and a half in.

In my junior year, I started the daunting task of looking for an internship. Keep in mind this was pre-internet boom, so I basically started with the “A” in the yellow pages and snail-mailed each tech company a cover letter and resume.

I made it to “S” before a small company named Systems & Software (that just happened to be run by one David Safris) decided to take a chance on me.

I would say we meshed pretty well, and I have been truly blessed to be able to work for him ever since.

A lot of the people in the office like to put on their headphone and listen to music while they’re working. What are some of the songs you listen to when you need to get ‘in the zone’ and hammer out a project?

I listen to a wide variety from different eras and genres depending on my mood. One day I could be listening to Mozart, and the next, Green Day. I do tend to settle more often on a few favorites, such as Schoolyard Heroes, Roxx Gang, Go Betty Go, and The Beautys. The ultimate ‘zone’ music for me though is Metallica. Nothing gets the fingers flying faster.

If you could be one of your fellow Visionaries for a day, who would it be and why?

I honestly could not imagine me being anyone other than myself. If there was a skill I could pull from a fellow Visionary I would pick from the visually artistic side. Code design is very natural to me, but when it comes to visual creativity, I am a bit challenged. I would love to have some graphic skills and be able to apply them.

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into this industry?

Always do your best no matter how difficult or easy the task. Let your work ethic and quality speak for you.

What is the worst piece of advice someone has given you?

“Don’t ask her out. She isn’t your type.” I’ve been blessed with my wife’s companionship for 25 years.

What was your worst summer job?

Grill cook at McDonald’s in Osceola. Not because the job or the people were bad, but because of the beepers. The fry folks would let their beepers go on and on and on and on. It literally drove me crazy to the point where I quit.

What’s one of the scariest things you’ve ever done?

My roommate in college had family that owned a ski chalet in northern Wisconsin. I like to ski, but I am more of a bunny hill kind of skier. My friends somehow convinced me to try a black diamond trail.

I started down the trail and it steepened rapidly. I wasn’t doing too bad until I hit a slope, went airborne, and managed to crash-land “safely” just before I slammed into a grove of trees. I got back up on my skis, but I was petrified.

I was staring down the rest of the slope and just couldn’t muster the ability to start back down again. After several minutes and a lot of coaxing I started again and found that the trail that was left was way nicer to me than the first part. Still, since that experience I have never attempted a black diamond.

What’s one thing you are really afraid of?

When I was a kid I ran over a ground bumblebee nest with my bike and was repeatedly stung around both my ankles. I have not been very fond of stinging insects since then.

Also, not very fond of needles. As long as I am aware of a situation, I can hush the fear. When I am startled by either of those two things, that’s when the “fun” little kid squeals eek out.

What do you do for fun?

I have a few things I enjoy. I dabble in game programming. I have remade a couple of my favorite Atari 2600 games and have worked on various projects in the Unity development environment.

I very much enjoy movies, especially ones that are good low-budget films. I love to hang with my family and stay at remote places in the country. Some of our favorite spots we have been are New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Kentucky.

Who is your role model, and why?

This is a difficult question. There have been so many people that have given me good experiences to help shape who I am today. If I were to pick who had the most positive influence I would pick my grandparents, Carroll and Marie Beck.

They were humble, small-time cattle farmers from rural southern Iowa (Leon). As a child I spent a lot of time on their farm and then later when I was 11 and my parents passed, they dropped everything and became my parents.

Patience, kindness, understanding, humility, humor, honesty, courtesy, respect, and work ethic are just some of the great qualities they helped form within me. Their relationship and the love they had for each other is a guide for me to follow in my own relationship. They were simply the best people I have ever known and quite possibly that I will ever know.

What is one thing that makes you really happy?

My family.

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