to Success: Moment With A Manager
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
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.
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
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.
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:
- the relentless pursuit of knowledge and perfection, within the
realm of common sense.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.