Last weekend, I was hoping to sneak out to see an Arthur Miller play, but ended up catching a different show at a local theater. But right about the time I was going out, it turns out that one of my old industry colleagues and friends died suddenly. Ralph Guanci, who was one of Emptoris' original employees, was a pioneering sales force -- and solo "sales force", a true one-man success story -- in driving top performing procurement organizations to adopt new technology such as e-sourcing, optimization and spend analysis. As anyone who knew him would attest to, he was the complete antithesis of Miller's protagonist, Willy Loman. Ralph was animated, optimistic and enthusiastic -- and knew how to have a good time. Dozens of companies adopted new technology because of his passion and good cheer -- and they were all the better for it.
I had just been in touch with Ralph over some new sales opportunities that I thought he might be a fit for. As always, he was excited, probing and had an opinion to share about each company. Nothing was taken lightly or on the surface with Ralph and there was always a perspective offered up. For this reason, I always looked forward to my conversations with him, as I knew something interesting would surface (and that I'd get an earful on the topic).
I first met Ralph when Emptoris was all show and no software go (except slideware). Ralph was part of the team (along with CEO Avner Schneur) that tried to sell FreeMarkets on their software and vision back when their business cards still read AvinaMart (as I recall, the company was originally named after Avner's wife, who did some of the early OR research in the area). During this effort in the 2000/2001 timeframe, I remember Ralph coming to Pittsburgh and treating us to some of the best sushi in the city (not sure how he got that expense report past Avner, but we sure had a great time). This started a long running dialogue between us as the sector evolved and Ralph eventually left Emptoris for a new opportunity.
I will sincerely miss Ralph, as I know all of his past colleagues, friends and clients will. For more information (including the Funeral Mass) to be held Wednesday morning outside of Boston, please visit this site.