It was a different technological world when Lancaster County-based Esh Computer Center started 25 years ago.
It's still a different world, culturally speaking, for the company's considerable roster of Amish clients.
But through it all, the company has flourished, adding both people and divisions. In 2012, according to Business Journal records, it had revenues of $3 million.
Jake Esh, the company's founder and president, recently answered our questions about the company, its history and what comes next.
Q: Your business is computers and software, and you have about 50 Amish clients. How does that work?
A: Amish and technology seems to be a contradiction, but to those who live in Lancaster County, Pa., or Holmes County, Ohio, it is not a contradiction. Business software and the Amish businessman is a natural fit. Our goal is to assist all small to medium-sized businesses with enterprise resource management and accounting tools, so that the business owners can focus on running their business and not on the accounting and bookkeeping chores.
How has Esh Computer Center changed over the years?
On opening day in 1989, Esh Computer Center employed only one person — me — working out of my home. I built computers and programmed text-based, DOS software. Early desktop computers were very slow and basic compared to today. They simply computed numbers and organized and printed data with black-and-white dot matrix printers.
Today we focus on communications equipment such as email, instant messaging, VoIP phones, video conferencing and other integrated ways to communicate and share data. The business software has evolved into a full-fledged enterprise resource planning system called Eagle Business Management Software. The business has expanded to include a team of more than 40 skilled staff, with divisions specializing in business accounting software, networking and communications. We focus on integrated solutions that can be accessed everywhere.
What does the future of the company look like — any significant changes on the horizon?
Evolutionary change — tablets, the cloud, touch, interactive devices everywhere and on practically everything. We are enhancing our business software, taking it to the next level by embracing multiplatform, responsive Web services and secure e-commerce, with powerful analytics, social and e-marketing tools.
The future will no longer revolve around the traditional personal computer but a variety of integrated devices. We are committed to changing with technology, as we always have done. We will continue to build and offer services that empower businesses to use the technology without worrying about the complexity that makes it work.
What has been your company's greatest victory?
Becoming an international company servicing clients across the United States and Canada and competing with Fortune 500 software companies providing services and software that match and exceed what they offer. The large number of satisfied business owners is a testimony to the staff within our company.
By offering personalized services to our customers and clients, including those like the Amish without technology experience, we are able to grow in a fast-paced technology industry that continues to change. For 25 years, we have watched many other technology companies come and go, while we continue to grow.