After leaving University I went to work for a company selling fax, copiers and computers. Within 12 months I decided to setup my own business, Apex Business Systems, doing the same thing.
To begin with it was very hard work and I had a lot to learn, in the early years working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Whatever the business made went back into purchasing equipment, stock or paying staff.
As we began to develop, the business moved from selling fax/copiers and concentrated on computer software. At this point it was the dawn of the Amstrad PC and Sage software. In the early days the market was all about Pegasus software and Sage was the new kid on the block. We sold and supported Novell networking products, Sage software and other products like Telemagic CRM. The products we decided to sell, Sage just seemed to buy up, so we ended up a Sage house. The business grew with Sage.
At the time we had some big established Sage resellers to beat in the North-West and it took 6 years of determination to become the undisputed No.1 Sage Reseller in the UK. A position which we enjoyed for over 10 years. We had over 5000 Sage 50 users and over 1000 Sage 100/MMS users.
I became expert in accounting, stock, order processing, procedures, setting company standards, building PCs/Servers, installing network software, cabling, training and implementing customers, specing software amendments etc. and my main job was sales. So as the business grew from a handful of people to over 45 people I could implement standards on how others should operate as I had done the job myself. I took on high quality people who added value to the business and made each department their own.
As time went on we knew customers with Sage 50 wanted better features like stock, order processing, integrated CRM, a more scalable product, to run it from home or at other branches over the internet, etc. but they would not pay for mid-market products like Sage 200/100 et al.
We had developed over 100 add ons for Sage making it a much better product than the standard offering. We even sold one of these called Navigator a management information system to Sage themselves. I owned and managed that business for 16 years.
I was offered a significant amount for the business which I decided to take. The business was doing well but I needed a new challenge. I knew we could develop software as we had already done it successfully and I wanted to create a much better product and value for money.
In the UK to develop an ERP application like Sage 200, SAP B1 et al would cost over £10mil so this was not an option. I needed to look at offshore resource. In my search I was introduced to the Philippines. This was a big step when the UK government said don’t travel there but I found excellent developers, with excellent English skills and good value for money at the time.
The original goal was for a global product but it became clear to come to market we needed to focus on the UK and Ireland accounting and legislation requirements. I knew the market was big enough anyway. Software development always takes a lot longer than you think it will even for professionals like us who know the industry. It is easy to get over optimistic about timescale.
I knew what the market wanted. A lot of software companies grow up one user at a time being led by that users requirements which is probably not what 80% of the market wants. So the software ends up inconsistent in areas and constantly under development. I had a blue print for the 80% and was able to develop to that blue print without customers initially. This meant we could add a lot of features quickly. It takes time to iron out the bugs and have the depth of functionality required to compete in the mid-market.
We have produced a mid-market product that is as good or better in areas than other mid-market products. It shows the level of skill, experience, commitment, determination and enthusiasm in our management team. Interprise has been a major team effort.
After leaving school I continued my education and received a degree from Bristol University in Computer science. I took a year out and travelled the world before settling down in Manchester to begin my career.
I have worked in the ERP software sector all my working life, initially selling Sage with Apex Business Systems and then the BDE group before moving to Interprise in 2006. I started off the technical selling side of the business before moving to product director, taking the product from its infant stages to the polished application we have today. I have spearheaded the API development in recent years as connecting with other applications is where we see massive potential for the product. I am a keen sailor and love spending time with my dog Roly.
After leaving school I went straight into working at a Civil Engineers WAM (G.B.) as the office junior. The head office was based in Ireland & there was no system in place in the UK office for logging supplier invoices that had been received and sent to the head office.
I did an Access course to then write our own database to be able to log the invoices. WAM (G.B) moved the office from Manchester to Luton & I was given the opportunity to go but at 17 years old decided it wasn’t for me.
I then went to work at a textile company called Tonrose Ltd. It was here I first used Sage Line 100. I dealt with the Sales & Purchase Ledger, Bank Reconciliation’s, Intrastat, Order Processing and assisted in month end etc. This gave me a good overall knowledge of the product and helped me understand accounts.
In 2002 I went to work for Apex Business Systems and started implementing & supporting Sage Line 50/100/MMS/200. The Navigator software that Apex developed for Sage 100 (which was later sold to Sage) had to be demonstrated to the area managers. This job was given to me and I was quite nervous walking into the huge meeting room in Newcastle at Sage’s head office but I came out smiling and was very happy with how it went (and so were they!). I implemented a lot of sites in these years and it’s nice to see that lots of the customers are still with us now at Interprise. When Apex was sold, I stayed on and worked for the BDE Group for a while.
In January 2008 I came back to work for Tony at Interprise as I had seen the software and I was excited about what the future could hold. 13 years later and I am still as excited now as I was back then. All of my previous years of implementing systems has been invaluable to the team and has helped us implement many happy customers over the years. My main role these days is still implementing and I love the challenge of new sites. I have recently been responsible for creating our Interprise University which I am very proud of.
After leaving school I obtained a National Diploma in Business & Finance and then went onto further education to obtain a Higher National Diploma in Business IT. After graduating from college, I started work at Umbro Sportswear in their North Wales distribution warehouse.
I implemented Access databases for Goods In and Picking and also assisted management with their reporting and data analysis. This give me a great understanding of databases, systems and workflow in a large warehousing environment.
I then moved on to work for a company called Control Group who later become XKO. At XKO we implemented and supported medium to large size businesses on our ERP package. This incorporated, accounts, Stock Control, Warehouse Management, Manufacturing and Payroll systems.I enjoyed several years at XKO and progressed from a junior first line support person to one of the more senior (second/third line) support technicians. In 2006 I saw an opportunity to join Tony in a new and exciting venture which was Interprise and the rest as they say is history! Using my previous system experience I feel that I add valuable input to the team and now head up the support department
I left school in 1982 and began working for a local engineering supplies company in Rochdale, where I stayed until 1988 when I decided to return to higher education. I initially studied for BTEC and A level qualifications, and in 1990 I began studying at the University of Salford, where in 1994 I was awarded a BSc honours degree in Computer Science and Mathematics.
In 1995 I began working at Apex Business Systems as part of a small software development team, creating bespoke add-ons for the Sage Sterling and Sovereign Line 100 software packages. Over time the software tools I developed with expanded to include Microsoft Visual Basic for DOS, Borland C++, Borland Delphi, Visual Basic for Windows, and ultimately, Visual Studio for DotNet. By 1998 I was leading the enlarged development team.
In 2005 Apex Business Systems was sold to the BDE Group, and I agreed to stay with the new company for two years. I decided to leave BDE in December 2007, and in March 2008 began working with Tony again developing bespoke plugins for Interprise. I’ve been working with the team for 13 years now, developing software and offering second-level support.