When I talk to people about my time at Fenwick Software most of them are surprised (shocked?) to learn I have been here for over 35 years.
I like to say I’ve received my pay check from a single employer, but I’ve had contact with well over 200 companies along the way, including significant projects with around fifty. Life has never been boring.
Any company that survives 40 years goes through ups and downs. We’ve had our share, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve survived and continue to prosper.
How have we achieved this?
When I talk to people about my time at Fenwick Software most of them are surprised to learn I have been here for over 35 years.
Peter Fenwick started the business in 1976, interviewing his first employee in his garage. He had a vision for how he wanted the company to operate and largely stuck with this for his 35 years as sole owner and Managing Director.
Peter believes in subsidiarity – the principle of devolving decision making to the lowest practical level. This means that employees are trusted to manage their own time and make their own decisions (always with the option of seeking advice). This principle allows staff to grow and feel empowered, rather than never daring to try anything.
When I look back on the tough times, I can’t help but admire the fact that Peter could still come in to work smiling, even when money was tight and salaries and bills had to be paid.
The staff of Fenwick Software have shown amazing loyalty. They have returned Peter’s trust by working hard and doing their best for, and by, the business and its clients. On a couple of occasions, staff took temporary pay cuts to allow us to get through a difficult time and to ensure we didn’t have to lose good people to redundancies.
Some of those employees are now part-owners of the business, and other employees may be offered that option in the future.
We have had good clients. They have trusted us with their businesses and we believe we have helped them improve and grow. The number of clients who have come to us from other NAV partners indicates that we must be doing something right.
In the early days our partners were primarily hardware companies. We worked with NCR, HP, DEC, Wang, Ultimate Computers and several others (it’s interesting to note how few of those have survived). In those days we built bespoke systems from scratch.
These days our partners are software companies: Microsoft, Epicor, Tegos, Zap, Tasklet Factory… The core of our offering is a solid, well tested, functional package. We can customise our partners’ software to meet special requirements and, when necessary, we still custom-build some software, usually interfacing with our packaged offering.
It has been a long journey from when I arrived at Fenwick Software as a fresh-faced Monash University graduate on Feb 16, 1981. There have been highs and lows, but the people I have met, both fellow staff and clients, ensured I never seriously contemplated going elsewhere.