Like most businesses with success stories in a recession, Nashua’s Converter Technology can pinpoint exactly why it is growing.
The software company, at 39 Simon St. No. 12, saw its business double last year and expects to do the same this year because its success has more to do with the goings on at Microsoft than the ebb and flow of the economy.
Converter Technology’s software was originally created to address the Y2K scare, but when that turned out not to be the problem the world anticipated, its use was, well, converted.
Now, it exists simply to fix a problem with Microsoft Office, the computer desktop applicationthat dominates the business world.
“We’re literally in a position that we can save businesses million and millions of dollars in manual repairs,” CEO Rob McWalter said.
In fact, Converter Technology appears to be part of a larger category of business-to-business companies that are performing well in Nashua. Those riding out the economic storm – not surprisingly – sell products that save money for their customers or relieve strain on busy IT departments.
Among those are Single Source Group, whose products include the kind of video conferencing packages that help companies cut down on expensive business travel, and Ektron, which makes software that allows employees to build Web pages without the help of IT professionals, even if they don’t understand the technology.
Converter Technology’s software is designed to repair problems that occur when companies upgrade from an older to a newer version of Microsoft Office. The software pinpoints and fixes problems that routinely occur in transition.
“When enterprises migrate from old versions of Microsoft Office to new versions, there’s a whole bunch of things that can break,” McWalter said. “A lot of problems creep up that people haven’t seen before. “Despite the fact that Microsoft Office was last released in 2007, McWalter said Converter Technology’s business is booming right now because the software is “hitting the steep part of the implementation.”
As organizations upgrade to the 2007 version, Converter Technology is boosting its staffing to meet customer demands. Converter Technology was founded by an Australian, but landed in Nashua by a fluke. The
Australian that bought Converter Technology five years ago happened to own a bunch of small software companies, including one in Nashua called White Pine Software, which had some empty building space. Converter Technology was moved to Nashua, where the two coexisted.
White Pine was later renamed and then merged with another company.
Perhaps Converter Technology’s biggest break as a company came when McWalter’s predecessor scored a deal with Microsoft itself. After about a year of trying to crack the giant company, Converter Technology became the go-to vendor for fixing conversion-related problems.
“Basically, he was able to convince them that they needed us,” McWalter said.
Now, Microsoft provides Converter Technology with about 80 percent of its leads and in some cases pays for organizations to use the software.
McWalter said Microsoft had no interest in fixing the problems itself for two reasons: It prefers not to advertise that problems exist and is too large of a company to divert from producing mass software to custom software.
However, just as recessions come and go, Converter Technology knows that its business will shrink when demand is not so hot for the latest Microsoft Office. So the company is now in the process of addressing that problem. It’s working on a diversified product line that applies to other types of products, such as document management systems.