How did an “Amish entrepreneur” who owns wood products stores in Ohio become the owner of record for Data Knight 365, the mysterious company that announced last week it will build a “world class” data center in Floyd’s industrial park.
Good question, but Bill Byler of West Farmington, Ohio, is better known as the co-owner of Amish wood product companies in Middlefield and Cleveland as well as a demolition company.
In November 2007, the Cleveland Plain Dealer profiled Byler, reporting:
Each weekday morning, Bill Byler gets up well before dawn and puts on wool pants, a cotton shirt and a straw hat.
Up to that point, it’s a typical routine for any Amish man.
But few Amish ever do what Byler does next. Rather than climb into a buggy and head for the fields, Byler grabs his cell phone, hops into a taxi and rides 45 miles from his home in rural Middlefield to a spot on West 25th Street just south of Lorain Avenue. Like many other commuters, he leaves early to avoid rush-hour traffic.
Byler is an Amish entrepreneur in the city. Along with his father, Wally, and sister, Ellen, he owns and operates a store in Cleveland called Amish Heritage Wood Floors and Furnishings. The store sells the handiwork of 12 area Amish families, everything from hardwood flooring, tables and entertainment centers to honey, pies, artwork and quilts.
Byler and his father also own Cherokee Hardwoods in Middlefield. The address for that store was the one he used to register the domain name for Data Knight 365 last April. The domain is registered in his name, not the name of the proposed data center company.
Byler is also listed as a partner in Cherokee Demolition of Burton, Ohio. Cherokee has demolition contracts primarily in the Cleveland area.
These days, Byler is not in the woodworking shops, or blowing things up near Lake Erie, but staying in one of two apartments rented by Data Knight 365 in The Station of South Locust, the mixed use project across the street from the Floyd Country Store. While Byler looks and dresses Amish, those who have met him say using a cell phone isn’t the only non-Amish habit he has acquired.
Data Knight 365 didn’t exist until April 13, 2009, the day a Cleveland law firm filed articles of incorporation with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. No company officers were listed in that filing. The company’s original filing as an LLC (limited liability corporation) was amended on August 7 — three days ago — to appoint an agent for LLP (limited liability partners) for the company.
The partners: William W. Byler and Laura Mae Byler of West Farmington, Ohio.
The presence of an Amish woodworking shop owner on Data Knight 365’s team is just one other oddity in an operation that is keeping Floyd’s rumor mill going and while others shake their heads and wonder what the heck is going on.
“They’re an odd bunch, that’s for sure,” says one local businessman who asked not to be identified. “They sure claim to know a lot about the data center business but the talk is usually a bit short on specifics.”
The lack of specifics seems to be a growing problem for the DK3 team. Some who have dealt with the crew cite a growing list of claims that don’t check out. One such claim says the group has built 15 data centers worldwide but a search of public records failed to find a single data center either built or maintained by DK3.
We’re continuing to look into claims made by the DK3 team. The closer we look, the weirder this whole thing gets.
(Updated on August 10 to include additional information on Byler and DK3’s corporate filings.)