Future bright for Manchester software company
Newforma CEO Ian Howell diagrams components of its software offerings. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
The Elm Street company - which helps architects, engineers and construction companies manage and share information more easily - hired 60 people in the past year and expects to hire that many again in the next 12 months, essentially doubling its worldwide workforce from 130 to about 250.
"Customers are ringing us for the first time in three years, and saying, 'Can we have 10 more licenses please? We just added 10 people,'" Howell said. "We haven't seen that for a very long time."
that the industry's come back to life," Howell said. "Customers have got project pipelines, and we wanted to be sure that we are well positioned, so we went back to our investors in August last year, saying, 'Hey, we can see that the head winds are slowing, and we may even have some wind in our sails, let's set the spinnaker (a type of sail) and go really hard and really fast."
Hitting double milestone
The company celebrated a big day last Monday, on Cinco de Mayo, marking its 10th anniversary and when three company executives - Howell, Dave Plunkett and Bob Batcheler - were honored by the New Hampshire High Technology Council as entrepreneurs of the year.
The company initially was conceived in a conference room across from the State House in 2003, and initial startup cash was pledged based on the experience of the founding team, many of whom worked at either Autodesk or Softdesk.
"The pitch was would you please give us the money so we can go hire the engineers, so we can write the code because here's the product idea, here's 130 customers you can call who really want that product. That was essentially the business model," he said.
The company's first product was simple enough: help manage the endless stream of paperwork generated in an architect or engineering company.
"We index everything that's on their company network and allow them to search it just like you would search the Internet using Google," Howell said. In the past seven years, Newforma has indexed 2.9 billion documents.
"We have to earn your business every single year," Howell said.
Plunkett said the renewal rate is 98 percent, a figure they trumpet to obtain new clients.
Another acquisition, Tap Tapas of Portland, Maine, has helped fuel the company's work in making information available on tablets and smartphones, providing more convenience to clients and saving time and money.
Over each of the past three years, the company has seen revenue gains of around 30 percent.
Harvey Construction in Bedford used the Newforma software at an architect's request during a $10 million-plus project to renovate Phillips Hall at Phillips Exeter Academy in 2012.
"One can say the project management system, Newforma, really helped organize" the various parties and tasks associated with that project, said Rob Prunier, Harvey's executive vice president.
About half of Newforma's 190 employees work out of 1750 Elm St. Today, it counts offices in Dubai, Singapore, London and Sydney.
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