35 Years – Cause for Celebration

35 Years – Cause for Celebration

Thirty-five years ago, Larry and I were heading back from a self-improvement seminar. We were very excited and encouraged and wanted to attend the next training. With two small boys and Larry still in school, we didn’t have the funds, but we had an idea.

During one of the sessions, they had some music in the background, then someone talking over the music. We could also hear the sound of planes overhead, cars, and other neighborhood sounds that were very distracting, not to mention that this was probably not in keeping with copyright rules. If we wrote original music to provide the background, recorded it, and gave them the rights to sell the cassettes at their events, would that cover the fee for the two of us to attend together? The answer was yes!

The Realmusic Label—The first recording was a solo flute with background environmental sounds of a summer storm we recorded in Geneva, IL. It was entitled Forest Song. Our friend Carlyn Lloyd played the flute part that Larry had written and did an amazing job of capturing the mood. Our friend Bobby Thomas overdubbed the environmental recording and it was just magic to hear it all come together. We created the cassette label and insert with artwork and font selections, along with our new company logo; we were in business!

In the coming years we recorded Mountain Soliloquy for brass instruments with sounds recorded in the Appalachian Mountains, then Embrace the Wind, which featured clarinets with classical guitar and the sounds recorded on a sloop on Lake Michigan. The field recordings were handled by our friend Vern Williams from Janesville, WI.

Artwork was created by a talented young medical artist, Craig Keifer from Villa Park, IL

What does all of this have to do with computers? While we were growing our distribution of these audio cassettes, and eventually the sampler CD, computers were just heating up in the construction industry. Larry’s dad was a Mason contractor and very active in his associations. Some of the larger Masons in the Chicago area were beginning to use computers to print AP checks and help with Payroll. They knew that the computers could help them turn around bid alternates faster and more accurately. They also knew they would need help with the computers and wanted someone they could trust. Larry had worked for his dad over the years and Larry knew many of these men. When they found out about Larry’s computer background, we started getting calls to come over and help. With the money from the computers, we could continue to build the music business while Larry finished school and his internship.

Right Time, Right Place—With our construction background, growing knowledge of computers, and our small business experience, requests for computer assistance grew pretty fast. All support was onsite at that time. We helped set up the networks, the printing, backups, and helped the users with their computers. We attended many of the Mason Contractor Association events, meeting many Masons from all over the US.

This grew into educational training sessions to use the computers. Since Larry’s dad was an Engineer by training, his methodical process of estimating along with his math skills were a perfect match for the programming languages. We actually wrote an estimating program, Benchmark Estimating, and had a good following. We held trainings at the various industry events, including classes on Estimating best practices.

During that same time, one of our Mason friends was interested in Master Builder for accounting and project management. Looking at the software, we decided to attend the training in California. There’s an entire backstory to this event—turns out a nerve in Larry’s arm was dying and the pain was out of control. Check out our website to see the interview and hear the story. In the end, we did the first Windows upgrade and Larry’s programming background made all the difference. We moved into Sylvan Learning Centers and Pre-GED software for PC’s and Apples, and lots of custom reports for Master Builder.

Networking has come so far since the mid-1980’s. Our Techs have navigated lots of changes; adding internet; devices to scan and read timecards; tape backups; imaged-based backups; VMware for server virtualization; Citrix then Terminal Services for remote access; Exchange email; hosting servers; even a trip to Rwanda and Mozambique to help World Relief get critical information to the states.

We want to thank all of the wonderful people who have worked at Syscon over the years. We are so grateful for the fantastic clients we’ve been privileged to serve. Such a pleasure to watch your companies grow, and see the next generation stepping in and stepping up! – CMW