Congrats to my cousin Jon Feld, his business partner Todd Price, and all the folks at Navigator Systems – they announced on Friday that Navigator Systems has been acquired by Hitachi Consulting.
Jon and Todd started Navigator Systems 15 years ago. At the time, I was running Feld Technologies – my first company. I remember a seminal discussion in my grandparent’s garage in Florida when Jon told me that he was going to leave Frito-Lay and start Navigator. At the time, Jon was a Lotus 1–2–3 stud so I hired Navigator (for one of its first contracts) to do some Lotus 1–2–3 modeling for one of our law firm clients. I hope Jon still has the invoice he sent me – that’s definitely something that should end up in a frame on a wall somewhere.
Navigator was an early pioneer in providing “business intelligence” consulting before anyone really had defined “business intelligence” (and yes – I know you Dilbert fans will still consider this phrase to be an oxymoron.) We shared an early client – Mittler Supply Company – where Feld Technologies provided the custom software and Navigator provided the business intelligence consulting. Mittler was a large, multi-location industrial gas supply company headquartered in South Bend, Indiana. Jon and I spent a lot of time there (yet I was never alert enough to go see a Notre Dame game) wrestling with an AS/400 based accounting system, a set of Clarion applications to transform the data, and a FoxPro application to let the Mittler folks play around with the resulting data warehouse. All of this was well ahead of its time, but I’d like to think we helped Mittler a lot over the years – they were good people.
Navigator has been very successful over the years, making the Inc. Magazine 500 Hall of Fame (for being on the Inc. 500 list five years in a row.) Navigator was largely self-funded and – although they did take a small mezzanine debt round around 2000 – and should act as an inspiration for all of you entrepreneurs out there that don’t want to take VC money. Jon and crew have been approached numerous times of the years about being acquired – they were patient and only chose to go forward when the deal on the table was great for all involved (in this case, including Hitachi Consulting who just added a superb company to their portfolio.) I’m proud of Jon and team – congrats!