I had the privilege of interviewing Chris Wolcz, a senior developer at EXEControl Global Solutions who is celebrating his 10 year anniversary with the firm. Chris’s expertise in areas of communications within a business system as well as integration with the outside world has greatly benefited EXEControl Global Solutions. Find out how fringe benefits affected his job search 10 years ago.
Chris, what brought you to EXEControl 10 years ago?
Do you want to know the real answer? Health insurance. As a self-employed contractor, the cost of healthcare premiums was almost five times the price from when I was an employee for a corporation. I have always worked as a systems integrator. At Troy Belting, I was designing Human Machine Interfaces and integrating them with industrial controllers (PLCs, drives, etc.) and IT systems (e.g. batching, tracking, inventory or SQL databases). At Irving Tissue, I worked as a systems engineer with a variety of hardware and software systems. When I started my own business, I took advantage of my former employer’s healthcare plan through COBRA*. Then suddenly, once COBRA expired, the cost of my health insurance shot up and I began looking for a place of employment with fringe benefits. Most people don’t realize the true cost for healthcare and the total investment of a solid fringe benefits package. When health care is paid for by the company, it’s a huge savings. EXEControl Global Solutions has always offered a very strong fringe benefits package. EXEControl Global Solutions contributes 100% of the cost for the individual, their spouse, and their family for both health and dental coverage.
Can you comment on some differences or changes in the EXEControl system over the course of 10 years?
We have integrated a lot of new technologies and ways of communicating with other systems. Technology such as mobile devices and internet websites were not universally embraced ten years ago and now they are expected technologies, even for business software applications. Communications used to be more restrictive with proprietary EDI VANs. Now companies use open source, secured communications such as https, ftps, and VPNs to communicate.
Your greatest contribution to EXEControl?
In one phrase: Integration with the outside world.
This entails bringing things a business system doesn’t usually do into EXEControl**. EXECoffice provides total integration between EXEControl and Microsoft Office. For example, a user can use Excel to define and perform custom calculations with the resulting calculations automatically showing up in the client’s EXEControl business database. There are easy to create templates for word documents which allow users to create their own documents automatically populated with EXEControl business data. I was the lead developer on this project, involved in the entire application lifecycle – designing, programing, all aspects from the concept through the completion of EXECoffice.
Communications within a business is also in my area of expertise. Communications encompasses many areas of a business. I program a lot of network and specialty packages like Wonderware, HMI, credit card processing, controlling of handheld devices and credit card terminals, document storage retrieval, and secured communications through things like https and ftps. Integrating with hardware, Microsoft Office, communicating with websites, signature capturing, and EDI of vendor invoices and POs are also in my job description. Even iPads can now be used to communicate with EXEControl. A lot has changed in ten years and I am glad to be a part of that change.
Wonderware InTouch deserves special mention. I love HMI development and Wonderware InTouch is one of my favorites for these applications. I have developed custom controls that can be integrated into new and preexisting Wonderware applications. These custom applications include, date picking, crystal report viewer controls, barcode printer control, and several custom database grids. Regardless of whether you have a new project or a dated application that might be decade(s) old, we can develop or upgrade your application to the latest releases and add new functionality in the process.
Back in the days when networking was new for small businesses (only large corporations or universities had it) a company asked to put all two of their computers on the network. It turned out that they only share one small file and only once a week. Although the network would be convenient, it didn’t justify the cost of investment and a “sneaker-net” was suggested (sharing the file with a floppy disc – that was the media used before CD/DVDs and thumb drives). Some features, although very nice and “cool,” do not make financial sense to implement. We have to always consider what benefits our clients rather than fulfilling our dreams or desires.
Many people expect a computer system to do anything they think of. On the contrary, computer systems are very limiting to the user. The rigidity of business systems helps prevent mistakes. EXEControl puts in extra effort for the system to allow some flexibility to accommodate those non-typical scenarios.
What are your fondest memories of working at EXEControl?
When the company, led by the president Allan Robison, stood together with my family to help us personally. My son Adam was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia and needed a liver transplant. EXEControl Global Solutions’ employees joined my family providing moral and financial support. My family will never forget the kind effort of those individuals.
What do you think is up and coming in the future of EXEControl?
Development of more mobile applications, as well as evermore ways of entering data and communicating options.
* The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) requires most employers with group health plans to offer employees the opportunity to continue temporarily their group health care coverage under their employer’s plan if their coverage otherwise would cease due to termination, layoff, or other change in employment status (referred to as “qualifying events”).
** EXEControl is an ERP/CRM business software suite provided by EXEControl Global Solutions.