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Missed field trip connected Eich to opportunities that led to telecom career

Dan Eich headshot

“Life is a series of small decisions, and each choice can ricochet you into a completely different direction,” Dan Eich said of how he ended up working in the telecommunications industry.

Eich is the Director of Wholesale and Carrier Management for SDN Communications, where he’s been employed since 2010. How he got there can be traced back to missing out on a field trip.

A graduate of Oldham-Ramona High School, Eich was studying business at what is now Southeast Technical College after a year at Dakota State University. Because he fell somewhere between a first- and a second-year student at Southeast, he wasn’t eligible to attend a field trip. Instead, he was told to attend class by himself.

Eich almost didn’t go that day. But he did and had a great conversation with substitute teacher Nola Redmond. She later used her contacts to open several doors for Eich, from sharing an opportunity to taking a paid class with Gateway 2000 to helping him find an internship in the telecommunications industry.

He went on to earn his degree in business marketing and gained some experience in telecommunications along the way. Eich has now spent his entire career in the technology and telecom industries but says it can be difficult to explain to people outside of the industry what we do.

“My daughters say I sell the internet. They will see a concrete handhole cover and say, ‘Look, Dad, it’s SDN — that’s you!’” Eich said.

And they aren’t wrong — he does sell the internet.

concrete cover to handhole with SDN stamped on it
Example of an SDN handhole cover

Eich started his career with SDN as a sales engineer. He went on to serve in several supervisory roles before taking on his current position where he and his team focus on two areas of the industry.

On the wholesale side, he works with large telecom companies. On the carrier side, he assists other telecom providers in providing service to their customers. His department includes more than a dozen employees who also design services and coordinate with major carriers, network partners and SDN’s member companies.

“I think SDN has a large impact as an organization but it’s still a small company with very rural roots. We understand we’re here because of the vision of our member companies,” Eich said.

Telecom is a fast-paced, dynamic industry, Eich said, which he believes empowered the SDN team to continue its success when Covid-19 hit in 2020.

“I’ve heard our leadership say we were successful when we couldn’t be together because of our relationships with one another and our teamwork prior to working from home,” he said. “It sounds cliché to say that people are the organization, but I really do believe it’s the case at SDN.”

So much of Eich’s life is centered on family at this stage in life. At home, he and his wife, Melissa, have four children, one son and three daughters, and an extremely spoiled mini golden doodle, Rooster. Together they enjoy traveling spending time outdoors swimming, boating, fishing, and hunting when possible.

He appreciates that SDN allows for a good work/family balance.

“I have my work family. And we all work very hard to make sure we’re meeting our customers’ needs,” he said. “But we also have the ability to be there for the truly important things in life. ‘UPTIME’ is not just a clever marketing tagline; it’s true.”

SDN is a leader in providing direct Internet Access, Ethernet Transport Services, Wavelength, and managed services to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and across a 7-state region.