If someone took a poll of the nation’s computer industry employees, northeast Indiana probably would not top the list as a magnet for software developers and computer programmers. However, there is at least one local firm that is successfully promoting the area’s image by building a diverse list of clients, computer consulting services, and innovative computer programs and, in the process, is attracting and keeping some of its industry’s best and brightest talent. That company is Aptera Software.
“We made a conscious decision to grow the technical resources available to businesses in Fort Wayne and its surrounding areas,” says TK Herman, president of Aptera Software.
“We can create custom applications for most types of businesses,” echoes Herman’s partner, Conrad Ehinger. “The diversity of our staff’s experience extends not only to the types of applications and solutions we’ve developed, but also to the various types of businesses with which we’ve worked. We’ve developed software for firms in the healthcare, manufacturing, architecture and engineering industries, just to name a few.”
The partners believe the diversity of the company’s experience and the dynamic project management tasks it undertakes make it an attractive match for software developers. Aptera Software also offers developers access to the latest tools. “We’ll put our skills and technology up against any software company located in a big city. We’ve helped write several certification exams for Microsoft that are used by developers all over the world, and we often are asked to present at industry conferences and to write for industry publications,” Herman says.
Herman and Ehinger started Aptera Software in 2003, and were the only employees at that time. The two Fort Wayne natives decided to locate their business and families here after gaining industry experience in other parts of the country. Today the company has fifteen employees, nine of those added just last year. Those new employees are crucial for the company to handle the additional business resulting from a growth in revenue of 180 percent over the previous year. Projections for the next couple of years point to similar levels of growth.
“We’ll continue to recruit and hire smart people and keep them engaged once they’re on board,” says Ehinger. Aptera’s reputation for keeping the developers it has attracted to Fort Wayne is impressive in an industry that is known for the nomadic lifestyles of some of its members. “Only two developers we’ve hired have quit, and they both went to Microsoft,” Herman says.
Herman and Ehinger have built their business on the philosophy that every client should feel like they are the company’s only client and, at the end of a project, every client should be reference quality. Aptera’s two principals are proud to work with some of the area’s largest firms and with some small companies too. Whether it is general consulting work or developing a unique web-based business management tool, Aptera has the expertise companies require.
Business intelligence has become an important area for Aptera, as well. Of course, computers have become indispensable to the workplace over the past ten to fifteen years, and that has allowed companies to amass incredible amounts of data. However, not many companies are using their data to its fullest capability. Business intelligence allows them to mine data for trends or spot issues that require attention. Aptera Software can work with a business’ acquired data to get a better handle on its information and make sense of it all as the business continues to grow.
Another service Aptera often provides for its clients is systems integration. Software interfaces can be written to allow disparate programs, like accounting and inventory, for example, to communicate with one another. Or, a company may have multiple applications that doWt talk to one another, and it simply needs to consolidate and report information. Aptera also will match its developers with clients to work on-site in order to complete projects, which otherwise might be outsourced, or to simply bring a client’s developers up to speed on new technologies. Its goal is to always give the customer exactly what it needs and to provide complete documentation of all services.
Aptera’s customers are happy to share their positive partnering experiences. Karen Liholt, vice president and CIO of PHP, says her company would have needed much longer to develop its new web-based client management system had it not sought help from Aptera. “Aptera provided skill sets we didn’t have inhouse and it also sped up the learning curve for our programmers,” Liholt says. “We’ve had a relationship with Aptera for more than two years. Its staff has always been professional and great to work with. Their deadlines are sound; its one of the few companies I know that consistently hit every deadline.”
Paragon Steel hired Aptera to develop a custom inventory management and processing application. “The quality of its work and its continued support for this dynamic program allowed us to grow our business over the last several years,” says Paragons Marketing and Processing Manager, Jamie Rolison. “Our support needs have grown to the point where Aptera agreed to place one of its programmers on site for us three days a week. The longstanding relationship with Aptera Software will continue to be an integral part of our business for years to come.”
As a complement to its consulting business, Aptera Software also is engaged in developing software applications and making them available to companies across the country. It has developed and marketed a web-based application for architects and engineers, the PSA Scorecard, that is used by firms in 17 states. Because of its demonstrated ability to build and market software applications, the company currently is looking to collaborate with entrepreneurs who have ideas that might benefit from its staff’s technical expertise. “Building the software is actually the easy part for us,” says Herman. “We also understand the market and how to sell what we’ve developed. We’re not a marketing company, but we do understand the requirements of the discipline and that makes Aptera Software unique.”