In 2015 Pericom celebrated its 40th Birthday.

Think about it –

We actually pre-date the Personal Computer, Dos and Windows.

40 years ago we were selling and servicing Punched Card Readers and Tele-printers running at 30 characters per second.

Our first business system used the CP/M operating system and 8” floppy disks. Our first display product was made from sheet metal and looked like a piece of military hardware. Seems like a lifetime ago.

Our founding principle was that the “Customer is King” and if we were asked to jump the only question we asked was “How High?”

We still believe that today.

Quite frankly the service levels we all receive today from many of our household names leave us astounded. Many seem to think that they are doing us a favour by dealing with us. We have never and will never operate that way and fully understand that without the loyalty of our long-standing customers we would not be in business today.

Our thanks to you all.

Many of our staff have also been with us from those early days and we would like to thank them for their loyalty and contribution to our longevity.

But what about the future? Well definitely more of the same as far as customer relationships are concerned.

More flexibility in the way support is provided with greater emphasis on utilising new software products.

A greater emphasis on local sales in our IT business and exports in our Display manufacturing business.

Better financial packages enabling our customers to use the latest products with no up-front costs.

40 years on and we’re still bursting with ideas and enthusiasm so watch this space. Oh and see you in 2055!

 

New Appointments

As part of its 40 year anniversary celebrations Pericom has asked three long standing employees to join its board of Directors.

Paul Woodcraft – Technical Director, has been with the company since 1983 in a variety of technical and commercial roles.

He currently manages several large clients in addition to his work in product development and telecoms. “I am very pleased to be offered a Directorship and look forward to supporting the company’s growth in the future”.

John Kirkpatrick – Manufacturing Director, began his career in the terminal manufacturing division in 1981. Since 1994 he has been primarily responsible for procurement both for clients and production. Recently this role was combined with running the manufacturing facility.

“Being made a director has given me an insight into what it takes to run a company and how the various departments heads have to work together to make it successful. It is daunting to start with, particularly the financial aspects, but I hope that my added input at board level will help the company to exceed its current goals”.

Steve Singh – Deputy Managing Director, joined Pericom as a service engineer in 1985 aged 19. “During my time with service division I helped open offices in Scotland and Cheshire, gradually moving into a sales role. As a result I became Sales Director of the company before deciding to start my own business. For 8 years I ran a very busy convenience store in Northampton increasing turnover to £2 million p.a.  However, often working 14 hours per day, seven days per week I recently decided to sell the business and return to what I enjoy best. During the eight years away I had always been close to Pericom, sometimes doing consultancy for them. So re-joining them was a no brainer and now, 30 years after my first job with them I feel proud to have been appointed Deputy Managing Director and feel that the experience gained running my own business will help me make a major contribution to Pericoms future success”.

Pericom has a well-established, loyal workforce with a wealth of experience in the IT industry. It has always had a policy of promoting from within. These three appointments are well deserved and will help shape the future for the next forty years.

directors photo

Paul Woodcraft                                                 Steve Singh                                        John Kirkpatrick

 

Pericom 40 Years in Milton Keynes A brief History by Ron Cragg Chairman and founder 

Re-invention.    How a small local company survived and prospered for 40 years in one of the world’s most competitive and volatile industries.

Two significant things happened for Pericom in the summer of 1976. It was one of the hottest on record and it moved from its humble surroundings in South Croydon to a shiny new factory in Milton Keynes beginning a partnership with the city which has lasted 40 years.

For a fledgling computer company with virtually no financial resources, lots of enthusiasm and perhaps too much optimism, Croydon was a hostile business environment. Having been formed the previous year Pericom found it-self sharing a single, cramped office above a car accessory shop with two other businesses, answering each other’s phones and sharing what few facilities were available.

If the business was to develop it needed to find a new home where small companies would be helped and encouraged rather than exploited. One visit to Milton Keynes with a guided tour by the Development Corporation convinced them that their new home had not only been found, but that it had the potential to exceed all their expectations. It was literally a breath of fresh air, with a wide choice of new factories available for immediate occupation on flexible leases for companies with little or no trading history.  To spread the icing on top of an already delicious cake the Development Corporation also provided temporary housing for the small staff to enable them to make the transition without delay and get on with the business of building the company. It was a no brainer, and forty years later although sadly the Development Corporation no longer operates it’s still a great city from which to run a company.

Whilst cooperating with MKDC on ad campaigns at stations, airports and the London underground to promote the city Pericom began the design and development and promotion of its own range of products. First off the block was a high speed tele-printer operating at four times the speed of those currently available and this was quickly purchased by the BBC to assist with news delivery at Bush House in London. Many other large clients soon followed and Pericom’s manufacturing business was born.

The second range of products designed used CRT displays instead of printers to create Terminals, or VDU’s which could be connected to large mainframe computers from manufacturers such as IBM, Digital Equipment and Hewlett Packard. These products were sold as an alternative to those supplied by the manufacturing giants, offering better facilities and cost/performance benefits.

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Pericom Desk top Computer with CPM O/S                                       Pericom 7800 Visual Display Terminal

When asked by the press or other interested parties why Pericom operated in such highly competitive markets against global market leaders its founder always replied that it was all about Pizzas. If you want to open a pizza restaurant you don’t chose a town where there are no others. It’s best to choose a town where there are several already because that proves that people in that town like Pizzas and all we have to do is make them better than everyone else and we’re sure to get a slice of the market. What he meant, of course, was that small companies rarely have the time and resources to create markets, and therefore it’s usually better to operate in existing ones, but do it better than the competition. He later went on to say that he knew this theory had paid off when on a camping holiday with his family in Yosemite National Park in California he visited the park supermarket for supplies only to hear a larger than life Park Ranger state with much authority that if someone from Pericom was present could they please identify themselves. Having done so with some trepidation the ranger took his hand saying ‘I’m proud to shake your hand. You guys make the best darned graphic terminals in the world’.

He had spotted a company sticker on the car outside and being with the US Bureau of Land Management was a regular Pericom user. It’s a small world sometimes!

 

Graphics Terminal

     Pericom High Resolution Graphics Terminal c1986

Pericom’s success in the terminal market was partly because at an early stage they had identified a problem looking for a solution. As large corporations grew either organically or by mergers and acquisitions they found themselves with disparate computer systems, often unable to communicate at the user interface due to a lack of standardised protocols. This could, in extreme circumstances, result in a user having two or more terminals per desk, one perhaps interfacing with the accounting system with another interfacing with R&D or manufacturing. Pericom’s solution was to supply terminals with several different protocols or emulators each of which could talk to a particular mainframe. This use of multiple emulators in a single product was pioneered by Pericom and became their signature and unique selling point, for a short time. The following years would see their products used throughout the world via a network of Distributors from Europe to Australia, the Far East and South Africa. Direct sales and support offices were opened in France, Germany and the USA together with a small specialist assembly plant in Singapore. Between 1983 and 1990 the company was listed on the secondary London Stock Market.

But the IT industry is nothing if not challenging and with a combination of cheaper terminals from the Far East and the growth of the Personal Computer, the market for Pericom’s products began to slow. The solution was to re-invent itself, moving their technology up- market onto high resolution graphics platforms, eventually becoming the largest manufacturer of such products in Europe.

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Pericom Plc Manufacturing Facility Milton Keynes                                                    Pericom Plc Global HQ Milton Keynes

 

This success was once more relatively short- lived however, because the graphics capability of the PC developed faster than anyone expected and soon PC’s were replacing graphics terminals in many design applications. With nowhere left to go Pericom finally faced the reality of most of its contemporaries and closed down their manufacturing business in the early nineties to concentrate on servicing and supporting its large installed base plus a wide variety of third party products.

But that was by no means the end of Pericom’s terminal emulation business. Working on the basis that if you can’t beat the PC you may as well join it, the company re-invented itself once more as a software company who over the next ten years became a major player on the world stage with large corporations everywhere licencing their technology for use on PC and the more technical Unix platforms.

It was to be the dreaded Millennium Bug, not the PC, which finally saw the end of terminal emulation. Fear of a Doomsday Scenario, which in the end never happened, saw most large computer companies and many of their clients scrabble to have their software re-written, often by large, low cost, Indian software houses, using updated open technologies which, amongst other improvements, removed the need for multiple protocols. For Pericom it was the end of an era which had lasted 25 years.

It was once more time for the company to re-invent itself, but how? The industry had changed beyond recognition as it continued to mature, consolidate and globalise. There was no longer a place on the world stage for a small British company with a unique skill set that the industry no longer required. Two solutions presented themselves right here in Milton Keynes, one for the legal market utilising software and support skills and one for the retail market utilising design and manufacturing.

Franklin’s a local firm of solicitors had developed a suite of Microsoft based front office products for legal firms and needed someone to provide sales and hardware support, leaving them free to concentrate on development and software support. They had formed a separate business FWBS and that company, in partnership with Pericom, soon became a major player. Indeed, it was so successful it became a target for acquisition in a market undergoing consolidation. Eventually it came to the attention of, and was subsequently acquired by, Thomson Reuters Elite who was attracted to the advanced technology and large client base. Pericom continued to provide hardware support to the joint client base and has recently been appointed an Alliance partner.

The second local business Pericom became involved with and eventually bought was a small company, Design Brief 7 specialising in the d2esign of display systems for retail environments.

 

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Pericom/DB7 LCD Rateboard                                                                                                                                                                   Pericom Smart Rateboard

As a result of that relationship it is now the largest manufacturer of Display systems for the foreign exchange industry with most of the UK’s large retailers amongst their client base. Indeed it’s almost impossible to walk down a UK high street, visit a shopping centre or go through an airport, here or around the world, without encountering one of their products made right here in Milton Keynes. The latest generation include miniature integrated computers running specially developed content management software for the display of adverts and customer information alongside exchange rates.                                                    

To celebrate 40 years in the industry, and its long association with the City, Pericom is re-focusing its service and support business for the local market and is currently recruiting staff for that purpose. According to the founder Ron Cragg who despite being semi-retired is still very much involved with strategic planning and direction,

‘We feel a bit like we’re the eldest son, who instead of joining the family business went off to seek fame, fortune and adventures around the world. Well perhaps we didn’t meet all of our goals but it was a great experience and now it’s “time to come home”.

Contact Us

Get in contact with Pericom today to see how we can help.

Telephone Number: +44 (0)1908 224680

How Pericom can help:

  • Creating products with your individual branding and values
  • Providing a fast return on investment by keeping costs low and increasing customer footfall
  • Less downtime- more business due to design led reliability and responsive support
  • Providing a unique marketing opportunity for customer facing environments
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