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Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Throwback Thursday: Anniversary Edition

At LRS, we love documents. So this week, my US-based colleagues and I will celebrating the 244th anniversary of a famous one: The Declaration of Independence. But I am personally just as excited about my own anniversary marking 25 years of working at LRS. So much has changed over the course of that quarter-century, but a lot — fortunately — has stayed the same.

As was mentioned in a recent Blog article, prior to joining LRS, I worked for a Chicago-based global technology firm in a group focused on developing client-server CASE tools. Our unspoken goal: relegate the mainframe computing model to the dustbin of history, where we all thought it belonged. No one was as surprised as me (with the possible exception of my former boss) to learn that were we had been wrong about the death of mainframe. And that 25 years later I would still be working for one of the top software providers for that time-proven computing platform (as well as every platform developed since then).

So if the mainframe is still around, how were the mid-90s different from today? Well, for one thing, corporate and personal use of the Internet were still in their infancy. At that point, LRS had been developing, selling, and supporting our output management software for a decade and a half without using the Internet. Not everyone was convinced that LRS needed to have an online presence for continued success. But some of us made a pitch we should jump right in with both feet.

With the benefit of hindsight, we all know how the story worked out; companies that failed to exploit the power of the Internet gradually fell by the wayside. As a privately-owned, debt-free company, LRS had the freedom and resources to incorporate web technologies into every aspect of the company. From that first home page to our early adoption of Internet-based product support, shipping and CRM systems, to our latest Cloud SAAS offerings, our early online investments have continued to pay off. They even spawned a completely new business unit, which will be celebrating its own 25 year anniversary in the coming year.

Going back to the mid-1990s: in the pre-web era, there was no concept of a “Blog,” let alone real-time customer interaction via Teams, Zoom, etc. Back then, magazines and other trade publications were the way to communicate with the marketplace at large. So we wrote a lot of articles, making points that in many ways are as valid today as they were a quarter-century ago.

Then, as now, some of the most compelling statements about the value of our solutions came directly from our customers. Today, online webinars give IT professionals the chance to hear from actual LRS customers who use our products to solve real-world problems. But when I first started at LRS, the ways of explaining the practical uses of LRS software were detailed Case Study documents like the one shown below.

This particular story brings back fond memories, not only because I was able to tour BMW’s iconic “Vierzylinder” headquarters building in Munich and visit the super-secret data center several stories below ground. Even more memorable was a quote from one of the customer employees I interviewed on the last day of my visit.

I asked a BMW network guy, Kurt Heydemann, to name his favorite feature of the LRS solution. He answered (in a deep Bavarian German accent) “Das funktioniert einfach.” It’s a short but interesting sentence which, depending on the context, could be translated as “It simply works” or “It works simply.”

When pressed to explain which of these he meant, the always succinct Herr Heydemann answered: “Beide, natürlich!” Both, naturally! A lot has changed in 25 years, but the fact that LRS software “just works” is as true today as it was back then. Which makes my job a lot easier.

Here’s to the next 25 years!

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