The following article,"Cleaning House", was featured in the November 19th issue of a popular Colorado magazine entitled "Peak Computing" (www.peak-computing.com). The article talks about the products and services of Summit Technologies, Inc. Peak is a free weekly magazine that provides high technology resources.
by Jennifer Karki
Some frat boys never change, while others create change. A Sigma Chi brother at Colorado State University, as a member of the board providing oversight to the chapter, offered to help his house. After all, David Fordham had a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance from CSU. But he didn't know what he was up against.
One Saturday morning in 1993 the fraternity brothers gathered to give Fordham details on the financial situation of the chapter and its members. But instead of bringing files or a disk, they handed him all their information on a paper towel.
"I said to myself right then that there has to be a better way, and I knew I could create it. So I did," Fordham said.
The House Manager is one of the products and services of Summit Technologies (www.summittech.com). It is a comprehensive software package incorporating the organizational needs of a fraternity/sorority in one package. Among the most powerful aspects of The House Manager are billing and member tracking. The company also does custom database development and Web development.
It all started when Fordham found himself doing massive number crunching and programming his own Excel spreadsheets to do his job as a financial analyst for a small telecommunications company in Los Angeles. The company went out of business and Fordham moved back to Colorado with programming experience and found a job at US West. However, a larger scheme was planned for Fordham. Some contacts needed database work done, so he started Horizon Development to bring in some extra bucks. In 1996 the name changed to Summit Technologies and Fordham quit his US West position to work full-time in his company. At that time, Summit Technologies began creating and maintaining a Web site to display information on its custom database application services and as a resource for The House Manager software package. In 1997 many of its database customers began asking about the Web, showing an interest in putting their business information on it. They were working on their first site in mid-1997.
Stacia Siegrist runs the Web development part of the business. "I do most of the interaction with our Web clients," she said. "In a nutshell I find out how they want to represent their company on the Web. Then I begin developing." Fordham said she has full creative and business control of that division, holding an equity position in the company allowing her to benefit as the success of the Web development area grows.
Summit Tech is currently creating and maintaining four Web sites and working full time on database application for Amgen (the world's largest bio-tech company) and on database for Accel Connectors, the defense industry reseller in California.
With its expected growth it can take on between three and five new Web sites a month -- depending on their size and complexity. It also has approximately 200 copies of The House Manager in use. "This is a bit deceptive, those are the 200 paid for-copies, we have had nearly 700 copies downloaded from our Web site and we have also given away 2,000 CDs," Siegrist said.
Since starting, Summit Tech has gone from about $110,000 in revenue in 1997 to about $170,000 in 1998, and with its existing contracts into 1999, it is forecasting revenues of approximately $240,000, with an upside estimate of about $280,000 to $290,000. The lion's share of the revenues come from custom database development and consulting. The remainder is split evenly between The House Manager and its Web development activities.
"We are actively marketing our Web skills and I believe we should easily triple our Web revenues for 1999," Siegrist said.
Fordham said he would like to see the company reach $1 million in sales by the next millenium, adding it will have to come from different and new sources, some of which may not even exist today.
"We are always looking into new ways of increasing revenue and I believe we will get to our goals through these avenues. I feel multimedia content development will be big in the future and we are beginning to move in that direction. We are also looking for new technologies to jump on," Fordham said.
Jennifer Karki has been freelance writing for more than five years, specializing in newspaper features. If you know of any businesses using new technology, or are just plain enterprising, email her at email@example.com.