A company’s transition and the clients that followed
Back in the early ’70s, SoftWright was a consulting company. As a consultant, Larry Ellis and his partner would write engineering software to help companies solve communications problems. They marketed their services to radio stations that might need to define listener coverage to promote advertising sales. They also worked with police departments that needed to know to what extent they could get coverage in the city they were protecting.
“In those early days, there were no computer models,” Ellis said. “A calculation might take you six to eight hours for one location. Eventually, people were saying, ‘I don’t want to pay you $100 an hour but I sure would like to buy your toys.’”
By the mid-’80s, Ellis and his partner had stopped consulting and had started solely selling software. “We had a great background, and all of the software we sell now came out of the problem-solving arena of the consulting practice,” Ellis said.
Today, Ellis is president of SoftWright and manages about 2,500 customers in more than 40 countries. That’s about 1,500 independent systems around the world. Some typical SoftWright customers include Black & Veatch and AT&T Wireless. Other customers might surprise you.
For instance, the Mayo Clinic is one of the company’s clients. “The Mayo Clinic has a great deal of telecom equipment, and all their clinics have to be in contact with the doctors wherever they are,” Ellis said.
The NBA is also a client. If a professional basketball game isn’t sold out, the NBA controls which broadcast stations have the right to access the game. It blacks out all the cable companies within a certain coverage area of the primary station that was given the rights to broadcast the game. The NBA uses SoftWright’s software to determine whether certain cable companies are inside or outside of the coverage area.
The most interesting patron is the Russian Navy. It uses the software to help guard nuclear weapons against terrorists. “They have massive designs of radio systems all along the shores of northern Russia, where they’re warehousing these nuclear weapons,” Ellis said. “They do exhaustive studies to find out where the system is reliable. They want to know where they might lack security in the form of radio coverage.”
SoftWright’s clientele is across the board, and across the world. It proves there’s always a new use for an old product.