Steve Landry, Director of Sales & Marketing at The Employer Group

Call it fate, but Steve Landry, 44, will always remember a charity golf outing he was invited to last fall for reasons other than his golf score. It changed his life.

Landry, then a top sales manager with TDS, was assigned to a foursome that included Angela Heim, president of The Employer Group (TEG), whom he was meeting for the first time.

Heim wasn’t looking forward to the day. “I’m a horrible golfer,” she recalled, but she hit it off with a patient Landry. The twosome chatted throughout the day, with Heim casually mentioning that she was interested in adding a key sales position to her staff. She asked for his advice, and Landry, who had chalked up a successful sales career at several Fortune 500 companies (Xerox, MCI, Cellular One), kindly volunteered to help.

Over the course of several months, Landry and Heim designed a TEG sales management position and compensation plan, and Heim started interviewing. Unfortunately, the candidates weren’t overwhelming her, and Heim grew frustrated. “I was really looking for someone like me!” she admitted.

Meanwhile at TDS, Landry was getting restless. “Personally,” he said, “I needed a different challenge. Needed to make a bigger impact.” So when he e-mailed Heim in December suggesting himself for the TEG position, Heim said she couldn’t believe her luck.

On March 1, Landry joined TEG in the position of Director of Sales & Marketing. It was a surprise, he said, to TDS, whom he’d worked for for 10 years, and especially to his wife and children, who had just moved with him to Madison in 2007. Gone was the large office, the large IT department, and a company car. The tradeoff? A reduced salary and the promise of rewards down the road.

“I gave him my word,” said Heim.

Leaving TDS was perhaps a bold decision, but it wasn’t the first time Landry had changed on a dime. Originally from New Brunswick, Canada, he left college to become a ski instructor in Vermont. After meeting his wife on the slopes and deciding to “grow up,” he dove into 100% commission sales jobs.

A month into his new position, Landry said that though his first week at the relatively tiny TEG was a “shock,” he has no regrets. And the bigger payday? “It will come,” he said confidently, accepting and enjoying the challenge and impact he will have. “If I bring in a million dollars here, it would be huge. And if I make a mistake here…”

But so far, so good. “I’m happier,” he said. “I hope this is the last job I have. I want to do well and retire early. This is not a stepping stone.”