On March 7, 2002, Brian and I went to lunch at the Flatiron Bar and Grille, a favorite lunch spot across the street from our Columbus office, the Midwest branch of a Seattle-based law firm, which was charmingly housed in an old casket factory. Upon returning, we learned that our whole office had been sacked via fax. We had some idea this might happen, but we did not anticipate that it would be handled in such a manner, traumatizing our small team.  

Three things happened that day: One, I contacted Scott Dietterick (now MDK’s Pennsylvania Practice Group Director) who offered to put our people on his payroll and benefits. Two, Brian calmly prepared articles of organization for Manley Deas LLC and walked down to file them with the Secretary of State. Three, I called our largest client to transfer the files we had been handling to our new firm. The rest, you may say, is history.

The weeks and months that followed were rocky, but Brian would remind me that the worst-case scenario wasn’t all that bad. We had early wins securing two new clients and bringing on Ed Kochalski and his many years of experience.  Fueled by a healthy dose of anxiety, our growing team soldiered on, expanding our relationship with our new clients, adding another and opening an office in Kentucky.  We continued to impress the clients with responsiveness and a sense of urgency and developed our primary strategic advantage: attracting smart, talented professionals to our firm.  

As I reflect on the mercurial ride of those early years, I am reminded of the past two years. The pandemic created strong headwinds that could have meant the end of MDK. Because everything changed so radically and we lost our primary source of revenue, a retreat would have been understandable, but not “on brand” for MDK.

Through a combination of optimism, critical decision making and the grit and sacrifice of the MDK community, today we celebrate our 20th anniversary with a dedicated team, a new mission, a renewed set of values and myriad opportunities for future growth. Brian and I extend our hearty congratulations for making it to this day and our best wishes for the next 20 years of MDK.  

With Gratitude,

Ted Manley and Brian Deas

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