Living the Vision, Mission and Values
Transoft is known for developing and supporting innovative and time-saving CAD-based software for engineers, architects, and drafters across the AEC (architectural, Engineering and Construction) spectrum. With developers, marketers and sales staff working hard together over the past 20 years, Transoft's products have become the de facto standard of the departments of transportation of many state and national agencies throughout the world. “We operate in a small niche of the transportation engineering market, but we own a significant chunk of that niche. We have reached a level of success that clearly makes us a worldwide leader in our field,” enthuses Milton.
As we saw in an earlier article, The Transoft Way, Milton suggested that Transoft could be seen as a micro-version of Apple, but also a reasonably big fish in the transportation engineering pond.
Today, Apple has a mission statement and a vision statement on their website, as does Transoft. Apart from market capitalization, the companies do have some similarities. Each had/have an innovative leader and each company has a technology-based product searching for a niche in the marketplace.
What kind of company was Transoft going to be? In the early years of Transoft, Milton had not yet crafted a mission statement, nor had a formal business plan. However, like most successful entrepreneurs he was passionate about what he wanted to achieve – and that was to be the leading transportation engineering software company in the world. With this dogged determination, he built a successful team in a caring and sharing way. And like we saw in the previous article, he surrounded himself with people who could help him.
“Developing our corporate culture wasn’t a learned thing,” says Milton. “We worked in unison and in the late 90's we decided to put our practice into words – words that reflected our dreams and aspirations. And so at a formal group meeting we sculptured our first set of VMV (vision, mission and values) which, even through minor rewording, has remained true till today and resonate well with the many new employees that have joined us since.”
“We were subconsciously driven by the VMV,” says Noel Dolotallas, Vice President of Corporate Marketing. “It was all about hard work, cultivating a strong team spirit, winning together, and delivering the highest level of customer service possible. Our customers loved us then and continue to do so today – accolades across the board from their love of our products to the exceptional customer service we provide – it’s as if they share in the fun, and experience the energy that belies the operation at Transoft.”
One of the early hires that Milton made was Shelley Frost, who joined Transoft in February of 1998 as a marketing contractor and eventually became the marketing manager. Shelley was living in Edmonton with plans to complete an MBA in Vancouver. She remembers joining Transoft fondly.
“I can’t remember if it was online or I may have just bought a Vancouver newspaper,” Shelly recalls. “There happened to be a job listing for Transoft, which I knew nothing about. I put a resume in and to be honest, I think I faxed it. In my cover letter, I said that I was going to be moving out to Vancouver and that I’d be interested in chatting with Milton.”
It took a little while but Milton finally decided to call Shelley. “He gave me a call on one of my trips when I was here looking for an apartment. He said he would come out to the airport and meet me for coffee. I remember during the interview thinking ‘this isn’t going well.’ He said to me twice ‘You sure have a lot of energy.’ We parted ways and I wasn’t moving out to Vancouver for a couple more months. I think Milton did hire someone in the meantime, but about three months later he gave me a call. He said he wanted me to come in and that he wanted to ‘give me a try’, which I thought was very cute.”
Shelley echoes Milton when he said that culture wasn’t a learned thing. Looking back now, she sees what Milton was looking for in the people he chose to join the company.
“Milton is very intuitive from the perspective that he is able to read people pretty well,” says Shelley. “He’s got a good sense of someone’s skills and the ability to fit in. We were fortunate that there was a group of really good people that had a good sense of humour and we all felt this was a cool thing to be working on. There was no room in the office for sour, bad attitudes.”
I’ll never take for granted what a great environment that was, Shelley continues. “I’ve often thought where things would have gone if I had stayed for a few more years. Transoft will always be very close to my heart. My memories there are very fond and I’ve always appreciated that Milton ‘gave me a try’.”
There was trust, accountability, respect and a family atmosphere around Transoft in those early days of the company. While the company has grown over the years, these characteristics continue to form the company’s culture even today.
What were the major cornerstones that helped propelled Transoft Solutions to lasting success? Read more in the next installment below.