One day you’re splitting the rent with a hairdresser; the next
you’re hanging ten on the crest of software technology. That’s the
story in a nutshell behind the dramatic emergence of Amherst-based Fisher
Towne & Associates —a nationwide provider of business-to-business
electronic commerce solutions and related custom software development.
It all began in the spring of 1994 when an enterprising Scott Fisher,
who had built a sturdy client base over his two years as an independent
programmer, decided that software design was "best left to others of
At the same time, Greg Towne was eager to expand his programming
expertise beyond that of creating software for law firms. Each planned to
set out on his own. Neither was looking for a partner. Then, fate
"We met on happenstance," Fisher said. "I was looking for a
freelance programmer and a mutual friend suggested Greg. From the start,
it was obvious he was much more than a software developer. He had great
business instincts, he knew how to work with people, and he had an intense
desire to grow and succeed. We found we shared similar philosophies and
were headed in identical career directions."
Soon afterwards, Fisher and Towne set up shop in a small plaza just
three blocks from their current offices in Snyder Square, at Main Street
and Harlem Road.
"Pretty cramped quarters," Towne recalled of the original location.
"We shared the building and electricity with a hair salon. It turned out
that whenever they had more than one hair dryer going at once, the fuse
Working conditions were especially trying in the winter months.
"Our landlord was in the habit of turning the heat way down on the
weekends," Fisher said. "We’d come in to catch up on work with space
heater in tow, wearing gloves with the fingertips cut off so we could
Back then, Fisher and Towne didn’t possess the state-of-the-art
equipment they do today.
"I have vivid memories of trudging through the streets of New York
City on my way to a presentation, with a big old desktop computer under
one arm and my monitor and keyboard under the other," Fisher said. "A
laptop and color monitor were just twinkles in our eyes back then."
Then, in early 1995, Fisher and Towne began work on a new software
application for paper merchants.
"At the time, everyone insisted this project couldn’t be done. It
was too complicated; too data intensive for (personal computers)" Fisher
Fisher and Towne proved their skeptics wrong and successfully created
an electronic catalog filled with over 100,000 paper-related products. The
program enables its users to find specific products much more
quickly—and at better prices—than before.
One of the country’s largest distributors of paper products, xpedx of
Covington, Kentucky, liked what it saw and signed a multi-year licensing
agreement to run Fisher and Towne’s software.
In addition to xpedx, companies like IBM, Gibraltar Steel Corporation,
Texas Instruments, and Western Geophysical use Fisher Towne software.
"Companies are quickly realizing that to be successful in the 21st
century, online electronic transactions have to be a part of their
plan," said Towne. "That’s when we get into the game."
"We’re not in business for the love of technology," said Fisher.
"We’re in this because we want to help our clients communicate better
with their customers and make it as simple as possible for them to do
business. To do this, you have to get to know a customer’s business
almost was well as they do. That takes persistence, time, and energy. And,
you have to be honest and sincere about that commitment. Unfortunately,
there are only so many hours in a day and we dedicate as many as possible
to making our customer’s business as successful as we possibly can."
It’s a way of doing business that continues to take Fisher Towne
& Associates to new heights of prosperity.