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Interview: Q&A with MXroute Owner Jarland Donnell on Email Delivery, the Hosting Industry and a look back

Tags: , , , Date/Time: June 8, 2020 @ 4:04 am, by Jon Biloh

A few weeks ago we talked to CrossBox.io about the software industry and today, as we continue our Interview style Q/A sessions, we sit down with Jarland Donnell, owner of MXroute, and a big part of our community. For those who might not know, Jarland actually ran Low End Box and Low End Talk for a period of time a few years ago before becoming too busy on rapidly expanding MXroute. So let’s get started with the interview!

What can you tell us about yourself, how you got to where you are today, and your role at your company?

I started in this industry as just another clueless newbie. I was blessed to have been given a chance by a lot of people. Most of those people were from LowEndTalk.

I started a VPS provider, Catalyst Host, with Ryan Arp many years back. This experience led me to a job at HostGator as a system administrator, an incredible expansion of responsibility and learning. That experience led me to a career as a Platform Support Specialist, and ultimately to a Team Lead on the support team at DigitalOcean. In my last year at DigitalOcean, I worked as Social Engagement Manager, overseeing support via social media and public forums.

In late 2013, while still working at HostGator, I started MXroute because I saw how much trouble people were having just getting an email from point A to point B, and I thought I could solve that problem. Here we are in 2020, and I still own and operate MXroute, and I’m also the Support Manager for QuickPacket.

My career has been and remains to be the most fulfilling one that I could have imagined. I wake up every day, excited to sit at my desk and get to work.

What advice would you give to business owners today or those aspiring to become one?

If you’re kind, generous, and honest, most people will reward you for it. You have to work hard on top of it, but that hard work won’t get you very far if no one enjoys doing business with you.

 

What is the most significant characteristic that makes your company unique in today’s evolving market landscape?

The most unique is how we deliver email and take IP reputation off the table. We try again and again, from different IP ranges, until we’re confident a recipient just isn’t going to accept an email. We have a cool outline of it here: https://mxroute.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Email-Server.png

 

What do you enjoy most about your role? What do you find most difficult?

The most enjoyable part of my role is server administration. I love parsing logs to find the weak points of the infrastructure and then crafting solutions to solve those problems. It sounds boring, but someone has to love it. The most challenging part is when I don’t have an answer. We’re still a small business, and we don’t employ a development team. There are sometimes hurdles that we’re just not ready to get over, and that can be frustrating.

 

Both personally and professionally, what guiding principles ground you?

Be fair, generous, and honest. Most people don’t mind if you mess up. Mistakes are not limited to companies of a specific size. What people want to know is that when you do make a mistake, you’ll be fair and generous in making up for it.

 

Tell me about some of the new and exciting things you are working on at your company?

Most of it isn’t too exciting for end-users, but it’s the foundation. We’re working on better internal documentation and consistency for rolling out servers, and continually reviewing the reasons that emails fail to be received to find out how the entire stack can be better tomorrow than it was today. It doesn’t make for great conversation, but it’s the work people expect when they give you money to take care of the problem.

 

Why should customers trust you and your business?

When you’re hiring someone to do a job, you want someone passionate and motivated to do the best job that they can do. That’s what I’m asking people to do, hire me to handle your email. I genuinely don’t think you can find anyone as passionate about it.

 

In the past you were the one running Low End Talk and Low End Box. What do you think of the recent changes to the community and do you have any advice?

I think my opinions on the subject are unpopular with some of the older members, and while I respect it, my views remain the same. You, Jon, are in a new position to dedicate more human resources (mainly yourself) to the community than you have been able to in the past. It hasn’t had that kind of dedication in a long time, not even remotely excluding my time on it as I worked at DigitalOcean, MXroute, and LEB/T at the time. With your work ethic and time to give toward it, LEB/T will grow exponentially.

My advice is to work hard to make it accommodating to new users. The biggest threat to LEB/T has always been that we old-timers slowly get bored and disappear, and we’re not very trusting of newcomers. That creates an environment with an expiration date.

 

Final thoughts and anything you would like to add?

In my eyes, the community at LEB/T directly propped up my success in my career by giving me the chance to learn how to serve them well. I’ll always be incredibly thankful for that, and do my best to give back to the community in any way that I can, whether that means a quality service provided or a hot meal if you’re ever in East Texas.

 

If you would like to learn more about MXroute, click the banner below to be sent to their website or review their past Low End Box offers.

I'm Jon Biloh and I own LowEndBox and LowEndTalk. I've spent my nearly 20 year career in IT building companies and now I'm excited to focus on building and enhancing the community at LowEndBox and LowEndTalk.

10 Comments

  1. It’s always amazing how one can quickly learn the industry, apply their commitment and actually make an impact.

    Awesome interview! Keep hustling and crushing it.

    June 8, 2020 @ 6:04 am | Reply
  2. raindog308:

    Always a class act. Great interview!

    June 8, 2020 @ 10:18 am | Reply
  3. Thanks for taking part in the interview series Jarland!

    June 8, 2020 @ 10:23 am | Reply
  4. o_be_one:

    Thanks for all jar, i truely appreciate your work and dedication to MXRoute!

    June 8, 2020 @ 11:19 am | Reply
  5. So now I finally know Jar story…you have been associated with big names of the industry.

    June 9, 2020 @ 4:26 pm | Reply
  6. dennis:

    Thought his name is Jarland O’Donnell

    June 10, 2020 @ 7:30 am | Reply
    • I believe it is Jarland Donnell – as that’s what was on the interview sheet but I can’t say I know 100%.

      June 11, 2020 @ 12:45 pm | Reply
  7. Vonnar:

    I don’t know this is the right place to share this, but I think it is weird that Jarland goes around claiming to be so “kind” and welcoming to new users, etc, in his various support roles.

    I joined his new forum, HostedTalk, and used the word “shill” in my post when describing a situation. Even though the other Admins agreed with my opinion and liked my post, Jarland hopped on the thread and then said I was breaking his #1 rule “Don’t be d*ck” by using that word, and then he locked my thread. When I opened a new topic on the Feedback section saying it seemed hypocritical, Jarland then responded “f*ck you for thinking you can post whatever you want on my website you worthless pr*ck” and then banned me entirely.

    I don’t mind someone acting how they want, but this fake PR campaign is funny and just super hypocritical.

    The new version of LEB seems much more open and professional tbh!

    August 6, 2020 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

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