Our summer marketing intern, UW-Madison student Nicole Long, is on a quest to interview the Gillware staff. Our people are what set our lab apart and allow us to solve the most complex data recovery cases at the best prices. They also make us more fun. Here’s what Nicole found out about Kirk Harvell for our second employee profile . . .
Kirk Harvell worked with anti-aircraft missile radar systems in the Marine Corps before he became an engineer at Gillware. A certified CPR instructor, personal fitness trainer, security consultant and body guard, Kirk helps protects your data at Gillware.
Gillware Blog: A lot of people at Gillware are from Wisconsin. Where did you grow up?
Kirk: Just a small town, you know . . . The Bronx, New York. My dad was a huge sports fan so I grew up watching the Yankees and, surprisingly, the Miami Dolphins. When I was in school, we used to take field trips to places like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty. Then we would visit the Empire State Building after hours. You could see the whole city from there. It’s funny but not everyone in New York can say they did that.
Gillware Blog: Where did you go when you were in the Marine Corps?
Kirk: I have been to many places around the world. I was a part of Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Iraq, I went to Belgium for NATO, I went to Okinawa, Japan for training, and I’ve been to multiple states like North Carolina, Alabama, Arizona, and Virginia, to name a few. When I wasn’t working, I ended up learning a lot of different martial arts from my friends when I was in the Marine Corps.
Gillware Blog: You teach self-defense classes. What advice do you give to your clients?
Kirk: As someone with 3 younger sisters and 3 daughters, I think it is so important to prepare everyone for self defense. I want my clients to have a plan and believe that they can protect themselves in a dangerous situation. I always tell the story of my cat. He was an outside cat and one day he came back with some kind of black tar all over his paws. So I, a 215 pound man, took the cat into the bathroom and closed the door so I could wash him off. The cat preferred his feet stay unwashed. Guess who won? The cat! He didn’t know that he was supposed to lose because he was smaller. There’s a lesson there for everyone.
Gillware Blog: You let your students hit and kick you for practice. Have you learned anything yourself from this experience?
Kirk: Yeah, now I wear a groin protector, on top of a groin protector, on top of more foam on top of something else. This way they can actually kick me at full force and I’m fine.
Gillware Blog: You are a former power lifter. What’s the most you’ve ever lifted?
Kirk: I dead lifted, where you pick the weight up off the ground, 550 pounds. I squatted 525 pounds. The most I’ve ever decline benched 420 pounds. That was when I was much stronger.
Gillware Blog: What was it like preparing for body building competitions?
Kirk: It’s a team effort; people in your world have to deal with your moodiness from dieting. In the last two days before a competition, we coat ourselves in dye because the lights are so bright they just wash you out on stage. Then you have to order show suits, basically they’re almost a thong, but you can’t show your butt cheeks. In 1997 I competed in light heavy weight at 190 pounds and I just had a standard black show suit. That was okay, but I really wanted to work on my abs. In 1998 I was a lot stricter on my diet and so I got this red shiny spandex show suit. I was way more ripped, it was awesome.
Gillware Blog: You have been in the Marines, done taekwondo, krav maga, body building, and you are a fan of UFC. If you had a group of those guys around, who would win?
Kirk: You can’t pick one, because it doesn’t translate that way. That was the whole thing for the original UFC back in the early, early days. It was to showcase what martial art was the best. So they had boxers, pure karate guys, pure kung fu guys, pure ninja guys, taekwondo, and jiu-jitsu guys. It was a round robin type of tournament where it was the last man standing. There were no weight classes, there were really no rules. I watched this one fight where this one guy got taken down and he just started punching this guy in the groin because it was legal. You could punch, head butt, and pull hair, the only thing you couldn’t do was eye gouge, break fingers or fish hook. It was hard core — there were guys that were 300 pounds and guys that were 165 pounds. It was the ultimate fighter, because you were fighting everybody. Royce Gracie at 165 pounds was the only jiu-jitsu guy, and he won, but you really can’t make any conclusions about a whole group of people.
Connect with Kirk on LinkedIn here, and keep checking our blog to meet more of our employees!