Celebrating 25 Years
25 years. A quarter-century. A generation, if you will. Just take a moment to think about the ups and downs, the various adventures and milestones that a business could encounter during this period. Creating and sustaining a small business for 25 years takes courage, commitment, passion, and of course, some good old-fashioned luck! But none of this happens without knowledgeable people, dedication, listening, communicating, and an unwavering focus on integrity. Stitch all of these together, and that is why in February 2020 Alternative Solutions, Inc. will be celebrating its 25th anniversary!
As we gear up to celebrate this milestone, it is important to acknowledge and express our gratitude to the many customers we have encountered along the way; many of whom have been on this journey since the beginning … and are still with us today!
The Beginning (or is it the Continuation...) of a Valued Relationship
One of our first customers dates back to 1996 when Badger Mutual Insurance Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin engaged ASI personnel to support their COBOL based software. The funny thing is, our relationship with Badger Mutual actually began in 1986 when some of our ASI team members worked for a Sheboygan firm that provided software updates and ongoing support of their policy and claims management systems. But whether we call it 25 years or 35 years, it’s all water under the bridge … it’s 2020, folks!
“ASI was instrumental in converting our policy administration system off the dying WANG platform to a different platform (RS6000) that would keep us viable. The initial conversion was not having much success; if ASI did not step in and basically take over the project, I don’t know what would have happened to the company. ASI was our IT department for over 15 years until we were able to hire our own IT staff; we owe much of our success to their support throughout the years.” — Darrin Groendal, Badger Mutual CFO & VP of Accounts
Helping Over the Years
Throughout this ongoing relationship, ASI has seen Badger Mutual through numerous projects, enhancements, expansion into several new states, and more than a few software overhauls. Some years required only a smattering of effort, and other years demanded a dedicated team approach of several ASI employees.
Badger Mutual’s Director of IT, Andy Thiede reminisced “I have always considered ASI to be part of the team at Badger Mutual. From development on our legacy policy administration system to development and technical advice on our new policy administration system, they have been invaluable.”
Our efforts on behalf of Badger are closing in on 75,000 man-hours, or more than 36 man-years, which is something we are both proud of and thankful for. And, of course, look forward to continuing for another quarter-century!
What the Future Holds
Looking into a crystal ball, so to speak, has always been a challenge in our opinion. Well … looking isn’t really the problem, it’s actually seeing a clear vision of where information technology is heading that tends to be quite cloudy. Technology advancements never cease, and improvements in architecture, delivery, and the user experience seem to happen with more frequency and at a faster pace than ever before. To remain competitive, carriers are now needing to address aging software and delivery systems more frequently, or face losing business to those with more savvy and efficient ways of doing business.
When asked about Badger Mutual’s goals and how they, as a company, are preparing for the future, Darrin Groendal summed it up pretty succinctly: “We want to continue achieving profitable growth by using innovative technology to improve our competitive position in the industry. With ASI’s help throughout the conversion process, we are currently launching a new Policy Administration system that will help achieve these objectives.”
Why We'll Be Here Another 25 Years
What will ASI look like in 2045? Now that’s an interesting question, especially after proclaiming how difficult it is to visualize what technology will win over consumers and businesses. 25 years ago, the internet was pretty much in its infancy, and from a consumer perspective, it was used in a very limited fashion mostly for email and posting messages. Pew Research summed up how limited it was when it found there were “14% of U.S. adults with internet access. Most were using slow, dial-up modem connections – just 2% of internet users were comparatively screaming along with an expensive 28.8 modem. To put things into further perspective, 42% of U.S. adults had never heard of the internet and an additional 21% were vague on the concept – they knew it had something to do with computers and that was about it.” And to put into perspective how far we have all come in 25 years, there was no Amazon, no eBay, and no Google in 1995. These all got started in some way, shape or form later that same year. We did have Microsoft Bob, however … say what??
So, the point here isn’t so much about how technology will look or how it will change our daily lives 25 years from now. Maybe the whole point of why ASI will be around in 2045 has to do with why we are in business now and how we will grow and change to help our customers adapt to new technology. We love making a difference and we live to solve problems. And, bringing IT solutions to insurance carriers who other vendors and technology often ignore is something we strive to do every day. It’s all about recognizing that our employees are people, and we put them first. They, in turn, recognize that our customers are our lifeblood, and consequently put their needs first.
Customer service… It’s why ASI has been around for 25 years and will continue to thrive for another 25 years!