Eastman-Stuart Ltd started life as a one man software house but ten years on the self-financing company has grown to 47 staff with a turnover of around UKP2.4m. The company has stuck limpet-like to NCR despite its initial poor profile as a lacklustre cash register company. Eastman-Stuart initially developed software based on NCR’s interactive small business computers for NCR itself as well as as a sub-contractor for NCR’s customers. During the late 1970s, having decided that it would not survive as a software house alone, its strategy was to develop packaged software based around NCR hardware. Meanwhile the arrangement with NCR ran aground because customers wanted a single source for both hardware and software and also resented the fact that NCR wanted its margin for hardware and Eastman-Stuart wanted a good margin for its software. During this period Eastman-Stuart flirted with Honeywell but nothing came of this as NCR then appointed the Watford company as one of its five official value-added resllers, but to Eastman-Stuart’s delight NCR allowed this to fizzle out.
NCR’s UK Number One
The company says that this was a good thing, despite its past affiliation, because as an NCR reseller, it would be tied to the company in a way it did not want to be tied. The arrangement then became more informal but as NCR brought out the Tower series Eastman-Stuart once again became attracted to the US company. At this point Eastman-Stuart made a decision to concentrate on the Unix operating system and invested heavily in Unix training. Although it realises that the likes of NCR will takes the lion’s share of any business going, it is hoping to continue to carve out a niche in the smaller markets. Over the last four years Eastman-Stuart has concentrated on vertical markets using Unix, predominantly on the NCR Tower series, and has cornered the market in the air freight, education and charity markets. Eastman-Stuart has set itself the goal of devloping one new product a year and will be bringing out a print management system this year, following up with a retail system around the second quarter of next year. As well as handling NCR equipment, Eastman-Stuart is also a reseller for the AT&T/Olivetti 3B line and has recently become an approved dealer for the IBM Personal RT – the 6150. IBM’s tentative move into the Unix market is seen as encouraging by Eastman-Stuart which believes that IBM is no longer only paying lip-service to Unix. It thinks that users will increasingly specify Unix but will still want to opt for the safety of buying IBM. Currently Eastman-Stuart writes in Ryan-McFarland’s RM Cobol but is looking at C to tailor its own programs to interface with a database such as Informix or Unify. Earlier this year the company brought out its first Unix software package, E-S Accounting, in response to a demand for a Unix accounting suite that had all the facilities of an IBM mainframe-type package but with the friendliness of the packages found on micros. The company does not expect to do wonders with this package mainly because it has not got the money to market it aggressively. Despite the company’s own reluctance to be classed as a reseller it is still rated as NCR’s number one shifter of the Tower series in the UK. NCR itself is said to have taken a 42% share worldwide of Unix-based 32-bit machines in 1986. Eastman-Stuart claims 188 companies on its client list, of which about 55 are turnkey Unix system users.