Background• The Gerber Alley HIS-tory is so rich it is taking 3 episode; this secondpart starts at Dorenfest & Associates in the late ’70s…– Wait a minute: Urban & Terry formed Gerber Alley in 1984!• Trust me, it started when Sheldon Dorenfest hired Betsy Hersher...– Your out of your mind, Betsey Hersher!?… Ah well, go on.• Thanks, now here’s the story: Betsy was one of Sheldon’s hard-working interviewers, who regularly called his 250 clients to gleandata for his original market research efforts (before the “3000”)• So? What’s this got to do with the price of eggs?• Betsy learned a lot from Shelly about the HIS biz,and left to form her recruiting firm around 1980.• I didn’t know that – over 30 years ago?• When I left SMS for McAuto, I met Betsy as partof my recruiting efforts (eg: Larry Ferguson…)
What might have been…What might have been…• We became good friends, and Betsy found me several good jobs inthe 1980s; one “might have been” interview leads to Gerber-Alley:• In the mid-80s, she got me an interview at the Hewlett-Packardoffices in Andover, Mass., where a fascinating Frenchman (named“Giles Merme?” – it’s been a long time...) was interviewing for anexec to head up their US Healthcare operations – big opportunity!• H-P was one of those techie firms where everyone has a cubicle, nooffices, not even for Giles, the VP of their whole US mini division.• Made for a weird interview, asanyone walking by could hear uschatting about the salary, benefits,etc.,• And how Giles was interviewingoutsiders like me to compete withinside candidates, like his VP of Sales,
Caught in the act!Caught in the act!• So we’re sitting in Giles’ cube, and I’m lying about my background,when in walks a heavyset guy who sits down in the next cube andwho Giles introduces me to - guess who? Mike Brown!• Mike had been on a sales call, came back a bit early, and was allears listening to the rest of my interview telling Giles about how Iwould make such a great exec, had been so successful, etc, etc.• After finishing with Giles, I then hadto interview with Mike, since he wasright there and had heard my story.• Mike grilled me like a fine steak,uncovering every weakness I had(which were many!). Needless to say,he got the job, became VP of H-P’s UShealthcare ops, and later CEO ofGerber Alley when HP partnered…
Back to Urban & TerryBack to Urban & Terry• So we last left Urban Gerber & Terry Alley when they started GAin 1983, after bolting from HBO, who had bought IFAS from them.• Brian Robson remembers the first 11 employees by name & title:– “ Urban – CEO - Founder of GBA/IFAS, originally from McAuto in earlyyears– Terry Alley - VP R&D/CTO (co-founder) - worked at GBA and then HBO– Alan Cooper - VP Sales (came from HBO)– Dan Jesson - VP Implement/Client Services (had worked at GBA and HBO)– Michelle Alley (Terrys wife) – nice lady and quite competent.– Patti Burnette - came from HBO/IFAS team– Brian Robson - hired by Terry at HBO in April 1982 (was 25 w/ 3-4 yrs exp)– Bill ??? - brain lapse on last name... Sharp programmer with no healthcare,he ended up leaving within 1-2 yrs– Bonnie Wynn – no previous healthcare experience.. knew Michelle– Pete Clarke - hired and no previous healthcare experience”• What a memory, Brian! Remember, this was 30 years ago…
The Early YearsThe Early Years• Again from Brian’s amazingly indefatigable memory:– “Terry had left HBO in August 1982 - hence, Gerber Alleyformally started on August 1, 1983 after their 1 year non-compete agreement expired– Urban left HBO before Terry and convinced Terry to join him infounding Gerber Alley & Associates (original company name)– Urban & Terry used the proceeds from the sale of GerberBrehm & Associates to HBO for IFAS to fund the roughly $1Mthey jointly put up to start Gerber Alley- Will always remember Terrysshiny Corvette ‘Indianapolis500 Pace Car’ that he droveevery day to our new officedigs in Norcross, GA…”
Early Years, cont’dEarly Years, cont’d• Brian could probably write a whole HIS-tory book an G-A alone!– “Terry provided the technical architecture vision:• Using 4GL tools to make it easy for clients to get to & use their data• COGNOS tools Powerhouse suite - Quick, Quiz, QTP with Data Dictionary– Bill ?? was the only programmer experienced with the toolset...• Other 5 programmers learned from a COGNOS trainer we brought in– Followed up training by designing and developing a ProjectControl System that we ended up using through FDC days– All programmers were made Project Lead for 2-3 modules• Most modules had 2 programmers assigned• Tiny modules (i.e. Bad Debt) had only a lead• Large ones (i.e. Census) had 3 programmers– Terry established design "methodology”based on the “Warnier Ohr” method
TGIF!TGIF!• More from Brian:– “Terry & Urban had spent the 1st "quiet" year (1983) designingthe company and developing a "conceptual model" of thesystem involving text file docs with Screen & Report "mock-ups"and some general bullet points on functionality– We consistently celebrated milestones at our "MandatoryFriday Meetings" with beer, wine and Jack Daniels for Urban…- Alan Cooper VP of Super-Sales (sadly RIP)sold 3 customers within the 1st year, whileproduct was still "in development" - talkabout vaporware... But demonstrates thelevel of trust and relationship Urbaninspired:#1 Spohn Memorial (Corpus Christi, TX)#2 Pekin Memorial (Peoria, IL)
More of Brian’s Total Recall:More of Brian’s Total Recall:• Leading edge technology at the time for sure...• Cognos and the Powerhouse toolset was initially a Canadiancompany named Quasar (Ottawa I recall)...• Well before they began to focus on reporting/analytics tools...• All were very easy to use and quickly created "prototypes.”• “Over 95% of system was developed using Powerhouse 4GL tools:screen & report generators, batch TP based off Data Dictionary...• Intense programs like Charge Posting, Insurance Proration andmessage queue utilities were in COBOL or assembler...• where performance was critical.
First Installations• (I’m sure this guy forgot something about G-A!?):– “We designed, developed and implemented initial coremodules in 11 months.. A pretty amazing feat in my opinion.– (Mine too, Brian, mine too…)– Included: ADT & Financial apps with modules for:• Census, Patient History, Billing, Revenue Control, 3rd Party billing, AR,Bad Debt, GL, AP, Inventory, Fixed Assets... Im forgetting 1 or 2....• (I doubt it Brian, I doubt it…)- Bottom line is Spohn Hospital was thefirst "Live” on all initial core applicationsin about 11 months.- Pekin Memorial Hospital in Illinoisfollowed 3 about months later.- Northwest Texas Hospital a couple ofmonths after that.
Early Success & Rapid Growth!• Brian’s display of total recall of early GA days continues:– “We started growing, growing and growing…• Jim Bodenbender (now top leader of Relay Health) was first "installer"hired under Dan Jesson – who was the Project Mgr for NW Texas.• Fred Leezer (sp?) was hired (previously from GBA & HBO) as installerand Project Leader for Spohn• Mark Edelstein (now VP Strategy at Relay Health) was hired from SMSand focused on Patient Care apps (Order Entry & Results Reporting)...he had been install Project Leader for Pekin Memorial• Company Christmas parties grew from about25 (15 or so employees plus spouses & etc.)in year #1, 1983• to 43 (25-30 employees) in year 2, 1984• To ≈75 in year 3, 1985• To over 125 in year 4, 1986
Amazing Revenue Growth• Karen See (formerGA Director ofMarketing) duginto her treasuretrove of GAarchives to sharethese gems.• At right arefinancial growthcharts from GA’s1990 AnnualReport.• What a ride!!
Stay Tuned!• For part III of Gerber Alley next week!– What? Another episode on GA?– Don’t blame me, blame all those GA alumni!– It’s their fault you can’t tell a short story?– No, they just have so many wonderful memories to share…– All right, but next week better be good…• Still hoping for any pictures of Urban!?Please send contributions to: firstname.lastname@example.org