On Tuesday, January 13, 1987 I sat in the kitchen of my 11 foot wide rowhouse in the Highlandtown section of Baltimore and typed out on a manual typewriter the Articles of Incorporation for The Fillmore Group. My son, Nathaniel, was five weeks old.
Some back-of-the-envelope metrics across the past 30 years:
- approximately 300 clients
- about 60 consultants have helped train these customers and implement their IBM Analytics software
- As a consultant, instructor, and/or presenter at technical conferences I have traveled to approximately 20 countries. Prague is my favorite foreign city; I’ve been there three times and look forward to returning.
I have had two consultants, Ray and Jim, tell me that working for The Fillmore Group “has changed [their] life”. In the beginning it was a common occurrence that an employment verification form from a mortgage underwriter would arrive shortly after a consultant started with TFG. I know of several consultants that purchased their first home while working with us.
My favorite work environment was The World Bank. The cosmopolitan atmosphere – working with colleagues from all over the planet – was delightful. I helped implement a telephone billing system there using SQL/DS.
My most satisfying project was the Oracle to DB2 migration at JP Morgan Chase. It was a tough, demanding environment with a timeline that was half of the 18 months originally estimated. But we got it done with the help of Jim, Joe G., Joe L., John, Rebecca, and Teresa. The customer had an equally talented, hard-working team. Our contribution to that project was recognized by IBM SVP Steve Mills at the Insight conference that year.
As a small business owner, my favorite question from an IBMer (Scott): “Since the deadline can’t change, if money were no object what would you do?” The answer: supply five more consultants to the project. It was completed on time – if not under budget.
As a technician, my favorite question from an IBMer (Hunter) in the parking lot after a detailed technical presentation to a customer involving replication and federation tools: “We can do that, right?” The answer: yes we can. It resulted in a massive data warehouse at a large federal government healthcare agency.
I have had the privilege to learn from and share friendships with some of IBM’s original developers of relational database technology including Pat, Curt, Don and Don, and Hamid. For IBM’s Hybrid Transaction/Analytic Platform (HTAP) implementations of today I rely on Paul, Tim, Gary, Namik, Knut, Patric, and Udo among many, many others.
I also cherish the friendships I have formed with other DB2 Gold Consultants like David, Ted, Bonnie, Jan, Juergen, Julian, Jackie, Kermit, Sheryl, Susan – and especially Gerry.
IBM has been a maddening company with which to partner, but the vast majority of the time The Fillmore Group has benefited from the technical excellence and basic decency of IBM employees. In return, TFG consultants like Roger and Ravi have delivered innovative, cost-effective IT solutions to our mutual customers. After more than two decades I still rely on Roger for his calm, wise counsel.
There have been tough times, too. The Fillmore Group overcame at least three financial near-death experiences (1993, 2002, 2006). At the risk of tempting fate: we never missed a payroll or failed to pay a debt on time.
But the best time, by far, was the day Kim May arrived to rent The Fillmore Group’s technical training classroom in downtown Baltimore in 2003. That was the day my life changed forever.
This is reverie, not valedictory. I am still too young to retire. And I am as jazzed about the possibilities of HTAP, data repositories, and data interoperability (aka “plumbing”) in 2017 as I was when I first started working with SQL/DS (maximum storage capacity: 64GB) in the mid 1980s. We’re currently working on a database rehosting project for a local government targeting DB2 for z/Linux and have an IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator (IDAA) v6 Workshop scheduled next month.
But I wanted to take a moment to jot down a few thoughts on the past three decades. Of course, I haven’t called out everyone by name who has contributed to our success over the years. But I truly, sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication, integrity, smarts, and moxie. Thank you!
In closing, when Curt retired from IBM I asked if he was pleased with a career that had reached a pinnacle as an IBM Fellow. His response: “It turned out better than I ever could have imagined.” Me too.