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2000

New Year's Eve came and went uneventfully, and several months passed, during which time Dan began his free web-hosting service at dans-home.com. The experience proved indispensable for what AO Industries would ultimately become. July 4th of 2000 saw Dan closing the doors on the free service and driving to Kansas City, Missouri to set up the first of AO Industries' permanent network clusters at Xeroscape, Inc. with the old dans-home.com server. From Kansas City, he drove to Tuscaloosa where John was finishing his degree at the University of Alabama. The first business office of AO Industries was established in the apartment John and Dan shared there. To support them during the first month of business, John worked sound at a local bar called the Chukker, and wrote a column for the city's independent newspaper, The Strip.

By late August, company revenues were enough to pay the bills, and by January 31st, 2001, AO Industries had grown to 140 paying clients. This phenomenal growth underscored the need for automation; the variety of software packages and configurations supported demanded a comprehensive, automated hosting system to put more power and control in the hands of the clients.

February, 2001 proved the most trying time for the company yet. The small business for which Klay was working suffered the fate of most other startups, dissolving within its first year. John and Dan initiated a move to Mobile to bring in Klay as an active participant in AO Industries. Amid the chaos of the move and the mountain of customer service issues arising from the overwhelming growth of AO's client-base, John went to Dothan, Alabama to be with his father, whose condition had been deteriorating over the past several months. Sadly, he passed away on February 4th after a painful but courageous fight with leukemia. John's involvement with AO Industries was subsequently--and understandably--limited by his frequent trips to Dothan to spend time with his mother. During this period, Klay was able to put the business and programming experience he had gained at the startup company to good use with AO Industries while handling customer support and web and database administration.

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