When Steven Wild began to tinker with computer programming back in the mid-1980s, he never imagined it would be the start of one of New Zealand’s oldest business software development companies.
His firm, Wild Software, is about to celebrate 30 years in business, and has come a long way since Wild, then a theological student in Auckland, taught himself to programme. Today the firm’s clients including several leading New Zealand companies such as Pacific Flight Simulators, Meridian Energy and Thermatec, with its Chreos business management software systems used in 16 countries.
Director of Thermatech, George Kear, has used Chreos for all the companies he has owned over the last 25 years.
“Each time I get involved with a new venture I immediately talk to the team at Chreos. Their system has proven diverse enough to tackle many applications and has continued to evolve as new technology becomes available.”
The company’s first international sale was into Australia over 10 years ago, with its global fan base growing steadily.
Chreos is popular with specialty book stores such as CLC International in the UK which uses the systems to manage its warehouse and a couple of websites, and is currently rolling it out to their 20 bookstores.
The firm’s latest international client is an ex-pat Brit running a high-level tourist venture on the Mediterranean coast in Spain.
Wild says he has rarely advertised, and there have only been a couple of stories written about the firm in all those years.
“Our business has simply grown through word of mouth.”
It seems incredible that this small Christchurch firm with a global reach has managed to slip under the radar for so long despite its many successes.
The unassuming Wild says the company is far better at raving about its products from a features and functionality perspective than promoting itself.
“We are technically a nerdy company that thrives on partnering with clients to provide solutions that will enhance and improve their business operations.”
The genesis of Wild Software dates back to 1987 when Wild, then a theological student in Auckland, needed to pick up some extra work to feed his family.
“Bayley’s Real Estate asked me to write a trust account software package. I knew a little bit about computers but had never been taught programming. I took the job on because it sounded easier than washing dishes.”
He borrowed some hardware, gave Bayley’s a fixed price and spent time teaching himself to do it. It was such a success that this contract led to him developing a property management system for Bayley’s, which saw him through the rest of his student days.
In 1990, Wild moved to Christchurch to become a pastor and continued programming work on the side, launching the first version of Chreos, a basic debtors package that took him three sleepless days to write.
He lectured and later became Head of Computing at Christchurch Polytechnic (now Ara) while employing staff to run Chreos, but left in 1999 to manage the business full time.
These days, he and five employees run the office in Leslie Hills Drive, Riccarton, where they provide 24-hour backup and support.
Wild says clients choose the firm’s software and business management tools because of their functionality, benefits, and the relationship they are able to build with the Chreos team.
“Our clients know we will work with them to overcome hurdles and maximise their business potential while offering around the clock support.”
Chreos is particularly well suited to retailers and wholesalers given its flexibility to handle inventory, orders and customers either online, or in brick-and-mortar stores.
“We can keep track of stock, customers and financials. We also keep their integrated websites up to date with the latest offerings and stock levels, and pull down orders straight to their despatch departments.”
The Chreos team has also introduced a range of mobile apps that work on cell phones attached to barcode scanners for stocktakes and various warehouse activities. Other apps are in design.
“The rate of change in the technology sector is amazing and in order to keep ahead of it we need to grow the company and attract some additional capability to the team. Along with celebrating our 30-year milestone, we’ve decided we had better start talking about what we do. “