The Silicon Review
“Bring us a need and we will fulfill it, as long as it is economically feasible for our clients and our Company.”
Building Business and Technology Relationships, was the slogan in 1985, of a new company that was formed —SAMCO Software Inc. The mission of the company was to continue the development of accounting and business applications on mini and microcomputers that could deliver the promise of that slogan. The name came about by abbreviating the former name of Sentry Accounting & Marketing Corporation. The 7 basic package source licenses purchased in 1979, from RealWorld Corporation in New Hampshire, U.S.A. was developed in COBOL and ran on 8” floppy disks. Sentry began enhancing and improving while customizing those packages as soon as they received the code.
As quickly as hard drives for the microcomputers became more readily available, the 8” floppy drive was replaced with a 5MB one, at a cost of $ 10,000.00. Innovation had begun for the Company, and as its public accounting offices (7 throughout British Columbia and Alberta, Canada) was each outfitted with a newer CPM computer and keyboard in a single unit, with a 10MB hard drive and a 360kb Double Density floppy drive.
The success mantra: Change is the only constant
The Company was one of the first, locally, to use the new IBM Dos based PC’s and they had to convert the software to run under DOS. Sperry Corporation’s Vancouver Office, which sold main-frame computers and software, had just taken delivery of their new Unix Mini-Computer, for which at that point, they had no software, other than a Legal Package then being developed for them by another company, approached SAMCO to provide them with a version of Samco Power Accounting applications which they would promote. The push was on, and SAMCO quickly became one of the most innovative small companies. Existing customers of Sperry Corp. wanted to replace their mainframes with the newer mini-computers and while they were all different types of companies, they all had a need for accounting software, so they were introduced to SAMCO. Vertical market applications became one of the “buzz phrases” of the time, and instead of developing a different package for each type of business, SAMCO’s management devised a system, which is followed by many companies in software development today, programming Code Numbers for each major modification and secure Activation Codes for those Numbers. Once both the Code Number and Activation Code are entered, the enhancement/special functionality, become available to the end user within their system.
SAMCO could now offer their widely accepted packages to almost any type of small or medium sized business and simply activate or deactivate certain parts of the source code to meet the needs of each. This was definitely “innovation” at its best, as at that time, most software developers of business applications and/or their resellers were required to maintain a copy of the “customized code” for each of their end-users.
In the early years, forms such as invoices, purchase orders, etc. were all pre-printed NCR paper, and since SAMCO was running into customers who used different forms designs and layouts, they arranged for a major wholesale printing company to keep their customer’s pre-printed forms in stock as well as some without company information on them.
Now, SAMCO is in the printing business, selling forms they guaranteed would be compatible with their software. Cheques, invoices, purchase orders, labels, etc., they were all available from SAMCO, along with the best of computers, printers, etc. Of course, when laser and ink-jet printers became popular, SAMCO modified their software to also print forms directly from within their software, eliminating the need for pre-printed forms. Customer forms could now be easily modified to match new ideas and allow for additional fields providing more information the users wanted to have appear on forms where they wanted them.
SAMCO: Innovations through the years
Networking, the Internet, portable applications, multi-site operations, all became popular and as computing power and options grew, SAMCO became very innovative to make certain their applications could meet the increasing requirements and while their flagship applications, the modular Samco Power Accounting series was originally developed in COBOL, which today, many think as outdated, and in fact it is, SAMCO was developing applications in newer languages to run on portable devices with varied operating systems, such as Windows Ce and IOS for the Apple Mac, etc. as they were becoming very popular. Currently converting their Flagship applications to a newer language, including all customization that has been developed over the years, and when completed, clients will have the option of moving to it, and all data will be ported very simply and intact, without or with very little human intervention.
Over the years, new requirements for SAMCO clients included the ability to handle requirements for Fishing Companies and their processing plants, Tire warehousing and distribution, Tire Reclamation, Auto fulfillment of stock for Retail stores from warehouses, over-night. Duty-Free distribution companies and retail operations, Food Manufacturing, Meat Processing, Chemical Manufacturing, processing, sales and distribution as well as many, many more, all requiring special functions within their fields, and SAMCO approached and still approaches each and every need with innovative thinking and design.
The roadmap ahead
SAMCO is in the final stages of being ready to announce some new products and improvements in existing products. The Company is ready for the future and willing to meet whatever it brings, with whatever it takes. SAMCO’s current senior programmer, started his work career in technology in 1983, with the Company, following his University graduation. They have several staff members who have, during their success, moved on, some to try other types of work, some in the same areas, some to work for customers, to enjoy using the software and its capabilities, rather than work on it. Many of those have returned to resume their career with SAMCO, and they were all welcomed back to what they often call “home”.
SAMCO has invested in its own Private Cloud, for their clients’ feeling of security and confidence, as they know where their data is being stored. Maintaining application Hosting on co-locations in several locations across Canada with access to the United States as well. Clients can login from anywhere in the world, using the Internet and have full access to their data running on the Companies servers via VPN, thus saving them considerable money up front for their own servers.
“We have always considered our staff and customers to be our most valued assets, and listen to all of them. Our staff is encouraged to bring their ideas and suggestions forward, both in weekly meetings and anytime they wish, the idea pot is never empty or closed.”