Change, Vision, and Risk
As one of the first SolidWorks Value-Added Resellers in 1995, I took a chance launching a paradigm-shifting movement from Unix-based 3D CAD to desktop Windows 3D CAD. My company, Progressive Computing Corp (PCC), was a profitable, fast-growing CAD/CAM and FEA solutions company. We sold big pen plotters, SUN and Silicon Graphics Unix workstations and $5K Tektronix monitors (yes, $5K for a monitor!) along with their graphics cards that cost nearly the same. That was 1995 and SolidWorks changed my 3D CAD business… practically overnight!
The multiple market impacts SolidWorks (considered Microsoft Windows CAD) precipitated were immense. Internally at PCC, our launch of SolidWorks meant we needed to move faster with more clients in less time, create value-added solutions in different ways than a 5K monitor or pen plotter. From CNC (Computer Numerical Control) to 3D-driven marketing catalogs and Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and rules-based engineering, we transformed - and had to. We took the risk and faced the change head on. We had to find value-added ways to stay relevant for our customers and we did it…. changing from a 3D software and hardware-based resource to an art-to-part, 3D-solution-based culture working with companies like Swagelok, Invacare and many more in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. For our customers, this new SolidWorks platform was easier to learn and far more affordable, creating new opportunities to extend the value of 3D. For PCC this shift in our business created a blueprint to help our customers innovate faster, to connect manufacturing and marketing, sales and quality in different ways then we had in years past. Change wasn’t just welcomed at PCC, it was embraced, enabling us to continue adding value to a changing market.
Seemingly overnight, local schools like Lorain County Community College, Kent State University, Cleveland State University and many others engaged with PCC to move from AutoCAD to SolidWorks curriculums. The new 3D Windows desktop ecosystem was underway, and with it, PCC formed the first SolidWorks Ohio User Groups (Mid-Summer Tech Fair, SolidWorks Night Schools). SolidWorks clients boomed, prospering from the movement to a lower cost, easier to use model of engineering innovation.
As this SolidWorks market expanded, PCC envisioned the new emerging market requirements that involved the need to manage files and revisions. To address these needs, PCC launched a partnership with SmarTeam that eventually grew into many other ventures for me that I will cover in future updates about the relevance of PDM and PLM. PCC innovated and invested to become the first worldwide SmarTeam solutions center and reseller partner, driving new PDM and PLM best practices that enriched manufactures with innovation, broader workflow and collaboration value.
We were proud of the innovations around lean engineering that our customers quantified and how our cultures evolved in adding a new PLM division to our 3D business. The SmarTeam journey ultimately culminated with PCC becoming known as the top PDM / PLM solution center in the SolidWorks and Dassault ecosystem. Our PLM customer successes in the market ultimately led me to Kitzbuel, Austria as the voice of both the customers and the PLM channel in helping Dassualt to rationalize the purchase of SmarTeam (post SolidWorks acquisition).
This PCC period of my life was gratifying beyond belief for many reasons. It was a time of bonding together with like-minded PCC employees, and of course our customers, as we all rallied around these exciting paradigm shifts in innovation. Microsoft Windows was becoming popular and so was the drive for innovation from companies across the country. This period of change helped shape who we would become for many years.
This is Part 2 of 5 in the Lean Engineering Paradigm Shift by Mark Orzen. Read Part 1 by clicking here.Subscribe to our blog to ensure you receive the next installment directly to your inbox.
Want to learn more? Join us at LEANutopia on September 20th where you can meet Jon Hirschtick, Founder of SolidWorks and Co-Founder/CEO of Onshape, the leader in modern CAD.