About Garth

Gateway to Success: Moment With A Manager

Garth Groft
Chief Software Architect, MCTG
Masters Business Administration - The Johns Hopkins University, B.S. Mathematics / Engineering - JHU

“Early on I realized that a developer must be self-driven, project focused, and client engaged, always placing a priority on organizing, communicating in a natural and unassuming manner and freguent follow-up to everythng.”

MicroComputer Task Group has been successful for over 20 years. MCTG is a group of of skilled and innovative information technology consultants. Read on for more details on the reasons behind our success and contact us today for solutions to your custom software, networking or Internet related needs.

A Brief Biography:

Garth Groft, Director & Chief Software Architect, MicroComputer Task Group, York, PA. 17403

I always wanted to be an architect (homes) but for lack of funds I had to settle for becoming an engineering drafting technician. I found out I was not good at drafting on my first job at Rocketdyne in the LA Valley and was promoted to associate engineer. In my new job, I tested rocket engine components and learned how to simulate their behavior with analog computers. Homesick, I returned to my hometown and got a job as a mathematician / programmer with York International and became their Fortran "guru". This was the beginning of my pursuit of becoming a software architect. While working full time, I commuted to the Johns Hopkins University and got a degree in Mathematics and acquired my MBA there as well. I did not learn much there about programming or computers. I also did a short tour of duty with the USMC specializing in data processing.

After training the engineers at York to code in Fortran and developing their scientific calculation libraries, I got the urge to branch out on my own as a consultant. While on vacation in Williamsburg I was somehow drawn to a book store and in particular to one book, "The Dynamics of FoxBase+ Programming" by George Goley. I knew instinctively then that this programming language was to become my passion. Working with Foxbase and subsequent versions provided enormous satisfaction that languages without a built-in database could not do.

Because of my work at York and my HVAC experience, York International provided me with my first opportunity to develop a commercial application as a consultant to them. This software was to become the basic equipment selection tool for selling York's packaged products and would be used by over an estimated 3500 users. I also developed a number of challenging applications for ARI and GAMA which both support the HVAC industry equipment certification. I also attended George Goley's FoxPro training classes at MicroEndeavors and worked on two projects for them.

I am still interested in updating my programming skills, learning more about Visual FoxPro and building my first application for the Web.

When I am not at my computer programming, I enjoy tennis, kayaking, landscaping, American history, helping our local Lyme support group, being involved with a faith-based healing group and spending time with my two children, but not necessarily in this order.

My new found friends in the Foxite community are a real inspiration and motivating force.

Keys to Success:

Success will happen naturally, most of the time, if you are self-driven, project focused, and client engaged; if you are open and sincere in all communications and always follow-up; and if you are willing to work hard. It helps to be practical and rely on common sense when deciding how you go about things. Our decision to narrow our focus to sales automation software and do it with just a few programming languages was very important. Don't try to take on every type of application or utilize too many programming languages. It's best to strive to do a few things very well rather than do a lot of things not so well.

Here are my personal definitions for my keys to success:

Self driven - the relentless pursuit of knowledge and perfection, within the realm of common sense.

Project focused - to use the creative process to provide a unique design that best addresses the clients requirements as an on-going process. Changes to scope are dealt with as they develop.

Client Engaged - to encourage the client to become deeply involved in the entire project, from defining requirements to testing the software. Issues with the project are discussed and resolved without delay.

My next major decision was to focus on a few primary application development languages such as Visual FoxPro, which features visual classes and integrated database. Visual FoxPro enables me to developed software five times faster than with languages such as C++. Advances in processor technology have greatly reduced the need to develop application software in lower level languages. The final ingredient - lower overhead - provided by a home/office gave me a significant edge over my competitors.

To achieve success, I cannot over emphasize the necessity to commit yourself to working very hard. Have high standards, be exploring, apply common sense, be practical, practice networking, be helpful, be genuine, and treat everyone as you would like them to treat you. Then be sure to relax and smile a lot.

Significant Clients:

We were chosen by two leading international air-conditioning firms, York International's Unitary Products Group and FlatPlate, Inc., for the development of their sales automation software (for configuring and pricing their product proposals). We created and maintained the first HVAC (Heating Ventilating & Air Conditioning) Certification Directories database system for ARI (Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute) for the PC and the Web. We developed labor reportimg and job tracking systems for Panagraphics Inc. as well as a comprehensive data analysis system for Morehouse Inc. and a fishing log application for Pure & Simple Publishing. Other clients we provide services to include: Material Paving, Bradley Lifting, the Lauver & Company investment firm. Panagraphics Inc is a custom fabricated sheet metal component firm.

My Mentors:

Among my many mentors are Roger Dowling, W. Calvin Moore, Don Krebs, Kenneth Hickman, Chris Swanson, Phil Landis, Phil Jeffers, Robert Wotherspoon, Herb Lapp, and Mark Sindicich. Each of them gave freely of their time to help me find my vision and hone my skills.

Roger Dowling emphasized the importance of paying attention to details. W. Calvin Moore made me believe more in myself and taught me that everyone is important. Al Newton advised to never question another person's motives. Don Krebs showed me the path to the best working relationships. Kenneth Hickman emphasized the need to be pragmatic because it's a changing and imperfect world.

Turning Point:

The turning point in my career was when a former, well-intentioned, boss told me I lacked the qualities required to succeed in the consulting business. His lack of faith in me only fueled my determination to prove him wrong. Curiously, success sometimes comes unexpectedly from an "unintended" mentor.

Recommended Publications:

I believe good management starts with the golden rule. There are many good books on management that seem to offer good ideas, but in all of them, the golden rule is an underlying theme. There is no better style of management than treating others, whether they be employees or clients, as you would like to be treated yourself. I have also learned that the best way to improve my writing skills is to read, read, read…reading the words and works of esteemed professionals in their field. As I learned so well from my mentors, paying attention to details and treating your contemporaries as professionals like they deserve to be treated cannot be over-emphasized.