Company History

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 greater ability."

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 intervened.

"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 would blow."

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 type."

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 said.

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.