Today’s interview is with Todd Majeski, President/CEO of 3DVision Technologies.
EDSM: You were one of the first people to sign up to become a VARs for SolidWorks. What did you see in the software back then that made you decide to become a VAR?
TM: In the early days before SOLIDWORKS was known in the industry, I was running a company that was providing Pro/ENGINEER products on UNIX and Windows platforms. Almost everyone of my clients wanted the benefits of parametric 3D design but they wanted to figure out how to lower the cost of obtaining this technology. The easiest way to lower costs was to run Pro/E on a Windows NT box. At that time, Digital had the fastest Windows NT box running the Alpha chip. This box was faster than the current Intel technology, however it was still a Alpha complied version of Windows and many other Windows applications didn’t exactly work right. So what I was seeing in the industry was clients desiring parametric 3D CAD, but not liking the cost associated with Pro/E and non standard Windows platforms. When I went to the annual CAD/CAM trade show called AutoFact in November 1995, I was introduced to SOLIDWORKS by Dan Monet, the SOLIDWORKS Channel Manager. SOLIDWORKS hit the mark at the perfect time. SOLIDWORKS offered 80% of Pro/E functionality at one fifth the price, and it was easier to use by a factor of 10! I immediately signed on as a reseller and introduced SOLIDWORKS throughout the Great Lakes Region.
EDSM: Do you remember anything interesting about your first SOLIDWORKS sale?
TM: Absolutely, the first sale came within 30 days of 3DVision becoming a reseller. The customer was Altair in Troy Michigan. They are a Tier 1 automotive supplier and they are use to purchasing software in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. They called us up and sent us a purchase order. In all my career of selling software, no deal has ever been that quick and easy. The price of SOLIDWORKS was a industry game changer and since my background was selling high priced software, SOLIDWORKS made it easy to sell and support.
EDSM: What is the coolest implementation of SOLIDWORKS you have seen?
TM: That has to be CAE/Ransohoff in Cincinnati. This was a classic case where a company was heavily invested in 2D Autocad and the entire process of designing was done by a large group of designers who would modify existing 2D layout drawings. The best part of the implementation was that all the designers did not take into consideration the fabrication process of the design. The 12-16 designers would funnel all the designs to one manufacturing engineer. We found that the designers needed to design in 3D just as if they were making the product on the shop floor. This process change for the designers helped the company increase drawing productivity and reduced shop floor errors. The implementation took longer than expected because we were changing the design process, not just implementing software.
EDSM: When you think of SOLIDWORKS the company/software throughout the years what are your impressions?
TM: This is a great question that I feel privileged to be one of the few that can answer this due to my longevity of selling SolidWorks. Early in my career, I worked for Computervision the number three CAD company in the world, and then brief stint with startup company Rasna. CV had over 3500 employees and Rasna with 150. SOLIDWORKS is different and better in comparison to these excellent companies. Different in the sense that when the founders of SOLIDWORKS got started, they wanted to make sure the barriers between the top executives and the feet on the street are always communicating (compared to CV). Decision aren’t going to be made in a vacuum and that the relationship between the dealer and the software manufacturer is a partnership. Rasna was small at the time and the current COO, Keith Krach made sure he kept the culture and line of communication very intimate. So as a company, I believe that I am part of SolidWorks. I represent and deliver the solutions just as if I worked directly for the company. Yet as a dealer, I get to stay close to our associates and maintain a company culture of our own. The dealer channel relationship with SOLIDWORKS is unlike any other in the world.
Now to comment on my impressions of the software, the first ten years was the wildest ride in technology development I have ever seen. The release cycle was every 6 months and each release offered more functionality than higher priced systems. I kept shaking my head in disbelief when each release came out and the price consistently remained the same. The price never went up and to this day you can still obtain SOLIDWORKS for $3,995.Simply incredible.
EDSM: You’ve been around Engineering companies for a long time. Have you ever noticed a trend in what makes them succeed or fail?
TM: Companies succeed for a reason, they hire and retain great employees. The companies that have adopted SOLIDWORKS in the early stages are always looking for an edge that will make them better. These companies always have detailed expectations of what they want to do and what their vision of a successful implementation looks like. When we are aligned with these types of companies they are always the most demanding, but they also trust our recommendation of training and on-site support. They know that getting up to speed on a new technology is critical and trying to figure things out on their own usually ends up costing more to the company in lost productivity.
EDSM: Do you have a favorite SOLIDWORKS function?
TM: In the beginning it was the Shell Feature, it always impressed me that it could take almost any complex shape and still make a uniform (or non-uniform) wall thickness. Today it has to be the automatic dimensioning feature. When I see the drawing creation and tedious task of applying the dimensions turned to minutes versus hours, I am literally blown away.