“There are people who see problems and people who solve problems; Steve Gray is very much in the latter category,” says Jim Attwood, Managing Director of the Carlyle Group.
Proven to be an incredibly hard worker, Steve was given an opportunity to sell surplus oil and gas equipment. Despite plummeting oil prices, Steve made record sales timelines and profits. In 1982, the owner of Preston Carroll Construction asked Steve to spearhead Claydesta Communications in Midland, Texas. This business was growing too quickly for the billing and customer service departments to support internally, which lead to a pivotal meeting with Cedar Rapids-based Teleconnect. In 1988, Steve was persuaded to move to Cedar Rapids and join Teleconnect as Senior Vice President of National Accounts and Carrier Services. The move to Cedar Rapids also led Steve to the love of his life, Sally, and the two were married in 1989. In 1990, Dan Akerson offered Steve the position of Vice President of Global Carrier markets at MCI in Washington D.C. A short time later, Clark McLeod called Steve to say “Let’s do it again,” and Steve and his family moved back to Cedar Rapids in 1992 where Steve was President of McLeod USA until 2004. McLeod USA became one of the nation’s largest independent competitive local exchange carriers during the telecom boom in the late 1990’s but was hit hard in the downturn of the early 2000’s. In his typical hard-working fashion, “Steve reinvented himself. It was a difficult time of innovators… but Steve, with his typical resilience and optimism got back out there.” said Dan Akerson, former CEO of GM Motors. Currently, Steve serves as the Chairman of ImOn communications, LLC, Security Coverage, Inc., Involta, LLC, and ReadyWireless, LLC, and he is the founder of Gray Venture Partners, LLC. He is CEO of Syniverse Technologies, is a member of the board of directors of CommScope, and currently serves as a Senior Advisor to The Carlyle Group.
Steve’s incredible business mindset, tenacity, his ease at a podium and his eloquence was evident when he led the community to envision the economic dividends of a casino in Cedar Rapids. Although the campaign for a casino in Cedar Rapids did not come to fruition, two years of Steve’s life were dedicated to the forward-thinking community project. “When Steve worked on the casino project, the message that he sent to other people was, ‘It’s okay, even if you lose, it’s okay, it’s worth it, because you’re trying to build up the community,’” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett.
Steve has been heavily involved in many other business efforts in the community. He has been a staunch supporter and advocate for startup companies in Cedar Rapids and was named a member of the prestigious Global Telecoms Business Power 100 list in 2014. Regardless of how busy Steve Gray is, he always makes time for his community and especially for his family. Steve and Sally are blessed with three wonderful children: Sam, Sparkly (Elizabeth), and J.J. (Julia).