Co-founder of Colorado Springs company retires after nearly 31 years with software developer | Subscriber-Only Content

Tom Walton dreamed of Altia rising into a organization where by he and other people could devote their total professions right before retiring.

That dream grew to become a fact for Walton, a single of four founders of the Colorado Springs-primarily based application company. He retired this week after 31 a long time as Altia’s chief know-how officer (his title was fellow software program engineer). Walton, 61, will remain a Altia board member and most significant stockholder he and remaining founder and CEO Mike Juran have a vast majority of Altia.


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“Even when we commenced, Tom experienced in thoughts that the company would very last endlessly. He reported we experienced to get worried about succession for when we retire. I assumed ‘retire?’ I was only 29 yrs previous,'” Juran said.

“Tom established the instance — we have an setting wherever folks occur and go, but we set the instance — be tranquil this will pass. Loyalty and longevity will pay back off. Tom has tested that can come about.”

Just before Altia, Walton, Juran and two other engineers labored with Hewlett Packard in Colorado Springs creating software that assisted producers build prototypes. Program, even so, was not HP’s key solution — the technologies huge at that time built anything from personalized desktops and printers to examination and measurement machines and other technologies equipment. The software products eventually acquired shelved.


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Walton, Juran, Tom Batcha and Kip Fulghum considered the program experienced a shiny long run, even though, and went to the supervisor of their division to turn in excess of the technology to them in trade for a smaller share of royalties from potential revenue for 5 a long time. They shaped Altia in late 1991 and landed their initially consumer nine months later to develop a prototype for its examination and measurement tools.

“Mike experienced some expertise in promoting with his earlier job at AT&T and he was a great salesman (for the corporation) from the commencing,” Walton stated. “I trapped with the engineering side — what made me get up in the early morning was solving customers’ problems and assistance them be prosperous.”


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Ford became the initially of Altia’s numerous significant automaker consumers after Altia was highlighted in the EE Situations, then the Bible of the know-how market. That story caught the focus of an government in the analysis and progress procedure of Ford that was acquiring new shows for auto radios and local weather handle techniques.

Altia would promptly land automakers Basic Motors and Chrysler, test and measurement huge Fluke, building gear maker Caterpillar and professional medical gadget producers Siemens and Philips. The company’s program has been used to structure shows in a lot more than 100 million vehicles, which include the bestselling Ford F-150 pickup and major-offering styles from BMW, Mercedes Benz, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Renault and Toyota.


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“I try to remember going on a press tour on the East and West coasts — very well ahead of the internet or social media — and dragging all around a Sunshine (Microsystems) workstation to display our merchandise,” Juran claimed.

“We would retain the laptop in our have-on bag, but had to examine the monitor, which was in bubble wrap in a cardboard box, because we couldn’t afford a carrying circumstance.”

But creating it to retirement was no sure bet for Walton, or anyone else. The firm’s hard cash circulation was so tight it was down to a one thirty day period of costs in money at minimum a 50 percent dozen periods. The enterprise also confronted struggles when various of its key shoppers, including Standard Motors and Chrysler, finished up in individual bankruptcy all through the Wonderful Economic downturn.

The organization survived individuals issues and COVID-19 pandemic and is now preventing provide chain difficulties that have slowed production for numerous of its consumers.


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The organization benefited from each and every of its founders obtaining complementary competencies — Juran focused on marketing and advertising and sales, Walton’s strong fit was screening application, Batcha could publish program and Fulghum had financial skills and was an professional in using a crucial application improvement device. Batcha and Fulghum remaining the enterprise in 2011 to semiretire Batcha died in 2019.

The organization stayed tiny for considerably of its early existence — Altia did not use an engineer to health supplement its four founders right until 1998 and that engineer, Jason Williamson, is now the firm’s vice president of marketing.

The company has considering the fact that concentrated on attracting top talent, who have served it build a lot more than 40 releases of its flagship person interface design software package. Altia now employs about 100 individuals in Colorado Springs, Detroit, Germany, Japan, South Korea and distant spots all over the world.

Walton understood he could retire the moment he experienced shared his knowledge about the company and its goods with these who will continue to layout and market its software. He reported he “gets enjoyment about giving staff and customers information about how to use Altia. You set anticipations very low and view them strike it out of the park. That is what acquired me up each individual morning to go to work.”

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Juran explained his partnership with Walton was built to previous, based on “heat, competency and substantial integrity. Tom is all of that. I could do yet another 30 yrs with him.”

Juran said he has no designs to retire and could conveniently get the job done a different 10 decades as Altia’s CEO furthering its mission of “earning engineering function for people, not the other way about.”