March 30, 2011

Ernie Crawford – the making of Crawford Technologies; Part 1

Prior to operating his first business, Ernie Crawford worked in the corporate world. He joined Xerox Canada in the early 1980’s during the early days of the High-Volume Transactional Output (HVTO) industry, where he built software development, technical support and marketing organizations.

This gave Ernie a good insight into where the HVTO industry was headed, and a good understanding of the many characteristics that make a successful vendor in this industry. In his time at Xerox, Ernie was able to meet customers, vendors and colleagues from around the world, and participated in establishing many solutions strategies. These worldwide contacts would be crucial later in life.

But Ernie’s entrepreneurial spirit comes not from the corporate world, but his family and upbringing. His grandfather, father and uncles were his role models, as they were all able to build well respected profitable organizations through providing excellent customer service. While running a chain of hotels would have been more in keeping with family tradition, it was technology that turned his head.

With a Computer Science degree from the University of Western Ontario in his hand, Ernie Crawford was well primed to start a business in the HVTO industry.
Starting as a mainframe COBOL programmer for Canada Life insurance, Ernie’s career saw a natural progression including assembler programming at Sears and a senior MVS systems programmer at Hudson Bay Co.

The programming work gave him a good understanding of what is required to put together application software such as billing and policy management systems. The systems programming work gave Ernie an appreciation for how a mainframe environment is put together and how good program products should install and perform.

One very timely experience was the role of installing the first IBM 3800 model 3 printers in Canada. Since these devices were the first AFP-compatible devices built, it gave Ernie an advance exposure to the architecture that was due to revolutionize the HVTO market.

That’s where the story begins. Come back soon for the second part of how Crawford Technologies came to be a world leader in the High-Volume Transactional Output (HVTO) industry.