Matt Disher, President and CEO of Southwest Networks, operates his business with a primary commitment in mind: keeping clients safe. And a Marine does not use terms like “commitment” or “safety” lightly. While his official IT career began as a radio repairman for the Marine Corps, his interest in technology was sparked as a young child when he and his father purchased a mail-order course and built their first computer for their home in Wisconsin. In tandem, Matt also spent time in Germany with his mother and stepfather, who worked with computers for the Navy. To keep a young boy busy, his stepfather loaded games via tape reel into the mainframe at his work, and from then on, Matt was hooked on all things related to technology.

After high school graduation, he signed up to be a “grunt” (a term of endearment used for infantry Marines) in the Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of his best friend. However, in a pivotal moment that would forever change his life’s course, Matt’s father insisted that his son learn a trade and march right back to the USMC office to change his application. And that is how Matt soon found himself training to be a radio repairman at “The Stumps” in Twentynine Palms, California, a base where the Marines train for desert combat. The somewhat undesirable post is affectionately named for its desert location and general lack of entertainment, but it was there that he met his wife, the daughter of a local pastor, and his fate was sealed to remain in Yucca Valley. Following 11 months of training at the Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School, Matt became one of the founding members of its computer services department, providing support to the school and further solidifying his prominence as a leader in IT support. But just before they were set to roll out Windows ’95, an ankle injury (received while playing Wallyball) earned Matt a medical discharge from the Marines, and thus, put him on a job hunt.

During the interview process with the owner of a local managed services provider, Southwest Networks, Matt made quite an impression. His second interview turned out to be a working interview, and he crawled under a desk in his full suit to troubleshoot an issue. The owner and founder of the new company, a fellow Marine, hired Matt originally as a technician, but as Matt’s leadership expertise proved pivotal to the company’s growth, the owner later brought him into the role of VP of Sales. Naturally, once the owner was set to retire, Matt entered into the role of president and CEO and, eventually, the trustee of its Employee Stock Ownership Program.

In this role, Matt regularly deploys creative strategies while growing the company, which thrives on the successes of small businesses in the area. He enjoys solving problems for clients, learning what makes them unique so he can utilize technology in a way that works best for them (technically and fiscally) and never taking a “one size fits all” approach when it comes to providing services.

Because of his focus on and dedication to security, most of the technicians Matt employs have advanced security training and certifications closer to what you expect from those providing services to larger corporations with the highest security needs. Matt himself recently became certified as a Health Care Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP) and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), distinctions achieved by only a few thousand IT professionals worldwide. To further demonstrate his commitment to the success of small businesses, he authored a book, Keys To The Castle, a guide for small business owners navigating the world of hiring IT consultants. In addition, he releases monthly vlogs called Cappuccino Chats, in which he hosts employees, colleagues, clients and even his children to discuss the latest advances in technology. His youngest daughter, Audrey, who at the age of six was already providing a challenge to her parents with overuse of data on her tablet, inspired the chats, and she appeared as his first guest.

Matt and his wife, Dawn, have been married since 1994, and they have four children: Tori (22), Cole (19), Lianna (13) and Audrey (now 10). When not working or chatting over cappuccinos, Matt can often be found coaching one of his children’s various teams, volunteering to work the sound booth at his father-in-law’s church, bowling and enjoying time with his family (including their four dogs).