|Industry||Retail and Wholesale Distribution|
|Predecessor||Triad Systems Corporation|
Henry M. Gay|
William W. Stevens
Donald J. Ruder
|Headquarters||Livermore, California, United States|
Number of locations
Number of employees
Activant Solutions Inc. was a privately held United States technology company specializing in business management software solutions serving retail and wholesale distribution businesses. Activant Solutions was acquired by Apax Partners and merged with Epicor in May 2011. The combined entity is continuing under the Epicor name.
Activant provides customers with tailored proprietary software, professional services, content, supply chain connectivity, and analytics. The company was also the first to provide an electronic catalog to the automotive aftermarket.
Serving the automotive, hardlines and lumber, and wholesale distribution markets, Activant is one of the top 10 ERP providers in the United States and one of the top 40 software companies in the world.
Headquartered in Livermore, California, Activant employs more than 1,700 people across more than a dozen locations including operations in California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Activant was known as Triad Systems Corporation until it was renamed in 2003. Triad Systems was founded in 1971 by Henry M. Gay, William W. Stevens and Donald J. Ruder and was incorporated in 1972. The company installed its first system at Northgate Auto Parts in Mill Valley, California on July 7, 1973.
Beginning with the Automotive Aftermarket
Prior to automation, the automotive aftermarket — involving the distribution of automotive replacement parts — used 3x5 index cards for inventory control. The founders of Activant created a computer, the Series 10, that used new, cost-effective disk drives to store the inventory information for the automotive parts distributors. The Series 10 gave the automotive parts distributors, also known as jobbers, precise inventory control. It was the first affordable automation for the automotive aftermarket, offered at $50,000–$100,000 per unit. It was also the first mass-produced computer the company offered to the automotive aftermarket industry.
In the 1980s, the Series 10 was followed by the faster Series 12. The company also created a system for larger warehouse distributors, the Triad 80. These systems, along with many other features, enabled communication capabilities between jobbers and warehouse distributors and suppliers.
Looking to New Markets
In 1980, Activant turned to new markets. The company found that the hardlines market had similar inventory management and accounts receivable requirements as jobbers and warehouse distributors. To cater to the hardware retailers, the company created a point-of-sale (POS) cash terminal system. In 1984, the company modified the POS system to serve lumberyards.
By 1984, Activant launched the first electronic parts catalog (simply called Electronic Catalog) for the automotive aftermarket which replaced racks of cumbersome paper catalogs, and by 1990, provided customers with more than 8.8 million automobile parts available electronically. The electronic catalog became one of the company’s most successful products. In 1987, the company began selling a stand-alone Electronic Catalog on CD-Rom (renamed as Activant LaserCat) to smaller automotive jobbers who didn’t have an Activant system. By 1989, the company continued its focus on innovation and began to develop the Activant Prism system as a future replacement for the Series 12 for the automotive aftermarket. The system for the hardlines and lumber industry was upgraded, sporting a new UNIX operating system, and became Activant Eagle by 1992.
In 1993, Activant released Activant Vista, a product movement service which compiled monthly point-of-sale movement reports and revealed how certain products performed against their competition and in the market in general. Vista was the first of its kind in the hardlines industry and brought in over $12 million annually.
In the mid-’90s, Activant acquired assets from the companies of Gemini, CSD, Eclipse, and Ultimate to bolster the company’s presence in the lumber and automotive industries. The Radio Frequency (RF) Suite was also launched during the mid-’90s. RF enabled bar code scanning which helped businesses manage and control their inventory with a higher degree accuracy. Businesses were also able to significantly decrease manpower and reduce the time it took to receive items into inventory.
The company launched Activant Eagle for Windows in 1997. The Eagle for Windows system was the first massively available Windows product for the hardlines industry.
By 1997, CCI purchased Activant (then Triad). Glen Staats became CEO of CCITRIAD. A year later, the owners of the company, Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst brought in a new CEO, Mike Aviles, to replace Staats. Aviles was CEO from late 1999–2004. Over the next five years, the company continued to expand its customer base by entering into partnerships with TrueValue, ACE, and Do It Best hardware stores.
Becoming the Company It Is Today
Under Mike Aviles, Activant’s revenue grew to over $225M.
In 2003, the company changed its name from CCITRIAD to Activant Solutions Inc. In 2004, the board of directors brought in Larry Jones as CEO to drive an aggressive growth strategy. Pervez Qureshi, current president and CEO, took over in May 2006.
Activant purchased Speedware Corporation Inc., including its operating divisions Enterprise Computer Systems (ECS) Inc., Prelude Systems Inc., OpenERP Solutions and Speedware Ltd. in 2005. Speedware’s Prelude platforms helped Activant make strides in the wholesale distribution segment. With Speedware’s Enterprise Computing Systems, Activant strengthened its product and service offerings in the lumber and building materials segment. That same year Activant acquired The Systems House Inc., a technology solutions provider for distributors primarily in the automotive aftermarket and office products industries, and Prophet 21, which made Activant one of the leading providers in the wholesale distribution market.
Continuing along its acquisition path, in 2007 Activant acquired Silk Systems Inc., including its wholly owned subsidiary Silk Dimensions Systems Inc., one of the leading computer software solutions providers for the Canadian home improvement, wholesale distribution and building materials markets. That was soon followed by the acquisition of Intuit Eclipse Distribution Management Solutions Business, a leading enterprise software provider to the wholesale distribution segment.
Annual revenue for fiscal year 2009 was $378.9M.
- Speedware Ltd. (2005)
- Prelude Systems Inc. (2005)
- Enterprise Computer Systems (ECS) Inc. (2005)
- OpenERP Solutions (2005)
- The Systems House, Inc. (2005)
- Prophet 21, Inc. (2005)
- Silk Dimensions Systems Inc. (2007)
- Intuit Eclipse Distribution Management Solutions (2007)
- Activant's Official Web Site
- Activant's Wholesale Distribution Web Site
- Activant's UK Web Site
- Activant's UK Supplier/Services portal
- "APAX PARTNERS COMPLETES ACQUISITIONS OF EPICOR SOFTWARE CORPORATION AND ACTIVANT SOLUTIONS INC." (PDF).
- Bieszczat, Steve (16 November 2007). Interview. (Interview). Editorial Note (2011-03): This might refer to the Industrial Distribution interview available via HighBeam Research at http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-179522755.html .
- Triad Adventure. April 1981. Page 1.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1977.
- Securities and Exchange Commission. Form 10-k. Annual Report for fiscal year ending September 30, 1990. Triad Systems Corporation. Page 4.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1980. Page 2.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1984. Page 6.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1985. Pages 6–7.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1987. Page 2.
- Annual Report. Triad Systems Corporation. 1993. Pages 1, 7.
- Vaughan, Gary. Activant. Interviewed on December 3, 2007.
- CCITRIAD Changes Name to Activant Solutions: Name Change Signals Company's Market Expansion Plans. October 13, 2003. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Names Larry Jones as Chief Executive Officer and President: Veteran Technology Leader to Drive Aggressive Growth Strategy. October 12, 2004. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Appoints Pervez Qureshi as President and Chief Executive Officer: Company Promotes Chief Operating Officer to Continue Expansion and Growth. May 3, 2006. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Solutions Completes Acquisition of Speedware Corporation: Acquisition Solidifies Company as a Premier Technology Provider to Vertical Industries. March 30, 2005. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Solutions Completes Acquisition of Prophet 21: Acquisition Bolsters Activant’s Position in the Wholesale Distribution Market Segment. September 14, 2005. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Hellman & Friedman, Thoma Cressey and JMI Complete Acquisition of Activant Solutions. May 3, 2006. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Purchases Silk Systems of Canada: Acquisition Expands Activant’s Commitment to Canada’s Home Improvement, Building Materials and Wholesale Distribution Markets. June 5, 2007. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.
- Activant Completes Acquisition of Intuit Eclipse Distribution Management Solutions Business: Acquisition Strengthens Company’s Position as a Premier Technology Provider to the Wholesale Distribution Industry. August 17, 2007. Press release retrieved from www.Activant.com on February 11, 2008.