SolidPartners was founded in 1997 on the notion that everything within a company (people, software and processes) could be improved and aligned to speed time-to-market using the next generation operating system (Windows NT at the time). We organized a trade show conference and brought in industry luminaries to speak on the topic. Reno Renewal (as it was called) was a success from a technology concept standpoint but a bust when it came time to integrate 32 Bit with 64 Bit computers running MS Word (which versions were not compatible at the time). We regrouped and incorporated in 1998 as a software consultancy, the idea was to bring together some of the best talent available (virtually) for each project using the Internet and keep costs down. We were ahead of our time and so most of our consulting gigs were small and focused on SolidWorks CAD Data Management. We did get the opportunity to architect the Microsoft “Art-to-Part” tradeshow booths – using Windows NT and related 32bit compatible software as the foundation for running a manufacturing enterprise.
Our founder, Jim Doxey, took the idea of using Microsoft SourceSafe (version control of software development) for CAD file management to Agile Software (who was a small 20 person company at the time). Agile was interested and hired Jim to help develop and market a new product called AgileWorks, based on this idea but using their multi-location vaulting technology used for their mainstream PLM tool. In August of 1998 the product was launched and sold through the SolidWorks reseller channel.
During this time Jim hired Brent Jenkins as a summer intern while he was finishing his Mechanical Engineering degree. The SolidParts product was born as Brent was able to build each of 200+ CAD models using Design Tables (embedded configurations of standard parts – fasteners, etc.). This innovative concept was awarded SolidWorks’ Gold Partner status along with AgileWorks Advanced File Manager in 1998. The SolidParts library is still being sold today as the simplest, most cost effective way to use standard components in a SolidWorks design or assembly.
In the summer of 1999, at the peak of the Internet Boom, Agile Software filed for an IPO of their stock, but in reviewing their product portfolio they realized they couldn’t get a high offering with a small ‘niche’ PDM CAD management tool, so they decided to “sunset” this product and reduced the staff. Our founder (one of the RIF) was back on the streets, helping various customers with their product data management issues. The IPO was a phenomenal success but the AgileWorks customers were growing impatient and wanted better support. Agile approached SolidPartners in late ’99 and agreed to sell the AgileWorks product, including all IP and customer base to SolidPartners. The deal was done by January 1st, 2000, and SolidPartners was re-invigorated with a new product and customer base.
The main caveat was the name of the product needed to be changed, thus AgileWorks became Activault with minor face-lift and logo change. It remains the easiest to use, most powerful SolidWorks CAD file manager in the industry.
Over the years since, Brent and others have joined the team and the product has evolved to support SQLServer, manage configurations, and ease the burden of CAD file management across remote locations or within a single user’s computer. The prices of our services have remained somewhat constant and we’ve tried to keep our costs down and pass the savings on to our customers.
Just like Agile Software, we’re striving for 100% user reference-ability and today with more fundamental changes in the software landscape we’re poised to deliver new technologies at a very reasonable rate.