You don’t have to be a rower to work for IncNow, a Wilmington legaltech firm that specializes helping companies from all over incorporate in Delaware. But if you do work there, there’s about a 50 percent chance you are one.
Rowing has been a big part of John Williams’ life — long before he took over the company his father, David Williams, founded in 1974. He started on a crew in high school, went on to row in college, and eventually became a volunteer coach in law school at Emory University in Atlanta.
“When I came back, I missed rowing and coaching,” he said. “[University of Delaware Lightweight Crew Head Coach] Chuck Crawford invited me to coach at UD.”
UD’s crew is a club team, so they so they aren’t funded by the university and rely on volunteer coaches to thrive, which they have. They frequently rank in the Top 10 among Ivy League teams like Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale.
They get up early. It's not a glory sport. Rowers are used to pulling relentlessly. I can't say that it makes someone a better fit for our type of business, specifically, but it's good for business in general.
Williams joined the family law firm in 2001 and took its IncNow Delaware Incorporation Service (formally known as Agents and Corporations, Inc.) and made it more widely available via an ecommerce site. Today, it’s an internet-based firm with offices in One Commerce Center at 12th and Orange in Wilmington — the same building that houses the Delaware Chamber of Commerce.
Rowing remained a big part of Williams’ life, and not just after work hours.
It started with Crawford’s son Brian, a former high-school rower who was hired as an aspiring lawyer. Then IncNow started bringing in members of the crew for internships.
They’ve hired rowers working toward law degrees, as law clerks.
“Rowers are hard workers,” Williams said. “They get up early. It’s an inglorious sport. Rowers are used to pulling relentlessly. I can’t say that it makes someone a better fit for our type of business, specifically, but it’s good for business in general. And it’s become part of our office culture.”
Among IncNow’s past employees are Taylor Valentine, a volunteer coach for the UD crew team who was hired as a corporation specialist — allowing him to coach and earn a living.
The company’s current web app developer, Fazal Vandal, met Williams when he rowed for UD as an engineering student.
IncNow’s most accomplished rower, database administrator Will Conesa Purman, is a current member of the Puerto Rican National Team (which is independent of the U.S. team). Purman’s family ties to the island brought him there often.
“In 2013 we stopped by the boathouse, talked to the coach and he invited me to come down,” he said. “It took a couple of years to get to the elite level.” In 2015, he qualified for the team.
Purman competed with the Puerto Rico National Team in the 2015 World Championships and is and hoping to compete in the 2020 Olympics after just barely missing a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.
“I was one spot off of qualifying for the Olympics,” he said. “I was an alternate, if someone had gotten hurt or sick.”
The whole office traveled to Puerto Rico in 2015, both for business and rowing. It’s that serious.
Williams serves as president of the Wilmington Rowing Center, located on the Wilmington Riverfront, where all IncNow employees are offered a free membership, even if they don’t know how to row.
“I haven’t really had any non-rowers take me up on that,” he said. “But if they want to come out, take a beginner class, that would be awesome.”
IncNow continues to support UD crew financially, donating equipment and uniforms.
“The rowing community is like family,” he said.
If you’re interested in learning more about learning to row in Wilmington, check out the WRC website.
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