GUEST: Travel And Transport Remembers Former CEO Bill Tech

Former Travel and Transport president and CEO Bill Tech died April 1 at the age of 70. From 1998 until 2014, he oversaw key acquisitions, a nearly 300 percent increase in employees, the transfer of ownership to Travel and Transport's employees and record growth in the five years preceding his retirement. In 2012, BTN named him to its 25 Most Influential list for Travel and Transport's acquisition of New York-based Ultramar Travel Management, which reinforced Travel and Transport's position among the largest U.S. travel agencies. Tech also served as chairman of Radius Travel for more than 10 years. Travel and Transport submitted the following remembrance.

With the passing of Bill Tech last week, Travel and Transport lost more than a chairman and former executive. We lost a dearly loved member of our company's family. With his outsized personality and love of others, it was impossible to know Bill for more than five minutes and not want to call him a friend. The evidence of that is the overwhelming number of sympathy calls and emails we've received. As many of those people have said, to know him was to love him.

Bill was a guy with a real zest for life. In fact, his mantra was, "Live every day to the fullest." Between his brother dying young from an unexpected heart attack and Bill being diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, which predisposed him to many different cancers, he chose to approach every day with optimism and enthusiasm. He had a can't-get-me-down attitude that drove him to success, even in the face of some pretty big obstacles.

He wasn't driven just for himself, though. Bill poured his heart into his work, and he pushed to make sure everyone got the best he could give. During his leadership tenure, he shepherded Travel and Transport through a period of significant expansion, between major acquisitions and employee growth. But his proudest achievement by far was guiding the transfer of ownership of the company to the employees, achieving 100 percent employee ownership in 2002. Bill viewed himself as working not just for the company but also for his fellow employee-owners, and he was so happy to empower them with full ownership of the company.

Bill's care for others wasn't limited to Travel and Transport, either. He was involved in many charities and served on the boards of many organizations like the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben and First Westroads Bank. And likely as a result of his ongoing fights with cancer, he had significant involvement with the American Cancer Society. In fact, when the Hope Lodge was being built in Omaha, Bill and his wife, Jeri, were major donors, as was Travel and Transport; today, when people staying at Hope Lodge finish their treatment and can go home, they get to ring Bill's Bell in the lobby of the lodge. Bill's optimism and positive attitude were such a crucial part of his own medicine in his fight against cancer, and he was overjoyed to share that optimism with others.

Outside of work, Bill had four main passions in life. One was his love of food. In fact, clients called him our CGO, Chief Gourmet Officer. He loved a great steak, and he always knew a good red wine to pair with it. Another passion of his was traveling. He went on more than 50 cruises in his lifetime, and his favorite trip ever was the one he took to Istanbul. Growing up on Chicago's South Side, passion for Chicago sports teams ran through his veins. He loved the Bears, the Blackhawks and the White Sox—but never the Cubs!—and his office was filled with Chicago sports memorabilia. We affectionately called it the "Chicago shrine."

But more than anything else, Bill's greatest passion was his family. To Jeri, Bill's two daughters, Cyndy and Lori, their husbands and his grandchildren, let us just say how deeply we mourn your loss. Bill was a great influence in all our lives, but yours most of all. He will be deeply missed, and we thank you for sharing him with us here at Travel and Transport.

Bon voyage, Bill.