Clearwater, Florida, USA — 2008 marks Steve Palmer’s twentieth anniversary working with Axiom. He took a bit of time away from working on new features for FileFixer to give us an idea of what it was like to be there at the very beginning of Axiom.
MicroStation Today: Hi Steve. You have been with Axiom for 20 years — what has been the biggest challenge?
Steve: Keeping up with David Greenbaum, the founder of Axiom. In David’s own words, “When you are your own boss, your work hours can be flexible — you can schedule your 70-hours per week whenever you like!”
MST: How did you find your way to Axiom?
Steve: I met David at a holiday party in 1987. At that time, David was a very successful computer consultant and software developer offering innovative new productivity tools to Intergraph sites. Intergraph users flooded David with more demands than he could handle personally, so in 1988 he asked me to help him with overflow projects.
MST: What is your most memorable moment at Axiom?
Steve: Working with David on site at PBS&J. PBS&J gave us access to their Intergraph CAD server and CAD workstations during off-peak production hours (evenings and weekends). David and I could work off site via dial up modem when necessary, but we would also drive across Tampa Bay to PBS&J for very long weekends of intensive software development. David would bundle a collection of technical manuals and food for the day on the back of his motorcycle. He asserted, “Given a sufficient number of bungee chords, any item of any size can be strapped to a motorcycle.” Over the course of just three (intense) Saturdays at PBS&J, David implemented six new product releases, while I managed to sweat out one new release. That product is now known as CellManager. That was my first taste of “Greenbaum boot camp”. I’ve been trying to keep up with David ever since.
MST: Any miracles you have seen with Axiom products?
Steve: One small phone company called us when they had lost their entire outdoor plan for the phone system. They sent the file to Bentley who said 65% of the elements had been deleted. FileFixer salvaged the whole thing. That could have put them out of business.
MST: What was it like when you first started?
Steve: Several independent developers, including myself, worked on assignments defined by David. David was an undisputed Intergraph design-file–format guru who mentored each of us. I remember when David sketched out the inner guts of a cell for me on a piece of paper (it was a stop sign). It was an intense period of software development. FileFixer, RefManager, CellManager, SpecChecker and other well-known Axiom applications originated during those first few years.
Soon, there was so much business activity, it became clear the team had to start working together in a centralized office. In 1991, I met with an attorney to establish Axiom as a corporation. Then I hired myself as David’s first employee. We started renting office space and moved business activities out of our homes.
MST: What positions have you held at Axiom?
Steve: Out of necessity, at one time or another over the past 20 years, just about everything. I’ve spent the majority of my time in our software development area.
Currently, amongst other things, I am the Product Manager for FileFixer. That requires constant evolution and innovation — and fast response.
MST: What do you like most about working at Axiom?
Steve: I love creating technical solutions to problems experienced broadly by our public. When I’m developing software, I completely lose track of time.
MST: What time saving MicroStation applications have you developed?
Steve: I developed early versions of RefManager and CellManager.
MST: What do you feel is the most significant change at Axiom over the past 20 years?
Steve: The quantity of personnel now on the Axiom team and the resultant exponential boost in Axiom’s capacity to service our customer base. Remember, I was David’s first employee. Early on, just a few people handled every aspect of the business. Now the company has teams of staff handling each division of business activity. I remember the first time an employee walked through the office whom I hadn’t met yet (someone else had hired them). It was clear that Axiom had taken on a life of its own.
MST: Anything you enjoy as much as developing software?
Steve: Yes, music. If you knew how many guitars I own (and how much space they occupy at our house), you’d grasp what a wonderful, understanding wife I have.
MST: Thanks, Steve.