Fresche Nabs Silveredge for Application Services
February 8, 2023 Alex Woodie
Silveredge Consulting, the Chicago-based provider of application support services, has been acquired by Fresche Solutions, the Montreal-based IBM i software and services business. The deal nets Fresche a respected consulting shop with a long record of supporting IBM i-based ERP systems such as BPCS and PRMS and two-and-a-half dozen senior RPG programmers.
Founded in 1987, Silveredge Consulting developed a solid reputation as a provider of application support services. The company started out supporting manufacturers in the Chicago region that ran on the BPCS and PRMS packages, which were also developed in the area. Over the ensuing 35 years, the company maintained that original business plan.
The relentless focus on customers and their RPG-based ERP packages for IBM i has paid off with a very consistent business and loyal customers, says Sue Boers, Silveredge’s co-founder, president, and previously its majority owner.
“A lot of people wanted us to go into things like Navision and all that sort of thing, but we stayed very IBM i-centric,” Boers says. “Everybody here can write RPG code. That’s where we focused our business and we never dissuaded from that. We always stayed in that lane.”
The company currently has about 26 full-time employees, most of whom reside in the Chicago area and have been with the firm for two decades or longer. The company originally focused on the IBM i client base in the Chicago area, but over the years, it widened its net as remote consulting became more accepted.
In recent years, Silveredge honed its ability to provide clients with RPG and IBM i expertise on a fractional basis. Clients valued Silveredge’s capability to provide them with a developer for a day or two a week, or a few hours per month, to fill in where they had gaps with their own internal human resources.
The fractionalized resource, along with some IBM i automation, really sets Silveredge apart from other consulting outfits, especially as the job market has tightened, says Ambrose Marton, who co-founded the firm with Boers and is an executive vice president.
“I think most of these small to mid-size companies still think they can hire a full-time person who can handle their shop. The problem is they’re not finding it, so they’re reaching out to us,” Marton tells IT Jungle. “And because of the fractionalized support that we have, we can do the same job. We come in, we help them automate stuff, which a person who’s been there for 15, 20, 25 years isn’t necessarily going to automate the machine to run by itself. So we have a cost-effective way of coming in and automating a lot of things up front, which allows our support to be less costly, so they don’t need a full time person, and that has worked real well.”
Steve Woodard, the CEO and president of Fresche Solutions, cited the fractionalized resource capability as well as Silveredge’s deep bench of IBM i and RPG expertise as the big drivers for this acquisition.
“This is a really important acquisition for us,” Woodard says. “We’re really impressed with Silveredge. It reaffirms our commitment to supporting our customers and giving them the capability to be able to do services and provide capabilities that Fresche currently doesn’t.”
Fresche’s roots are in application modernization. Its predecessor firm, Speedware, developed a much-heralded code converter. In more recent years, it has added looksoftware, Databorough, and Quadrant, which had already snapped up BCD Software. In October 2021 it acquired Abacus Solutions, an established managed services provider (MSP), and in March 2022 it added IBM i security with Trinity Guard.
Fresche currently has several flavors of services, including application services, transformation services, and digital solutions, which is new application development. The plan calls for Silveredge to continue doing what it does as a separate business unit under the Fresche brand.
Woodard clearly sees an opportunity to sell IBM i modernization software and services to Silveredge’s customer base. But this deal isn’t about acquiring a new prospect list to sell modernization solutions, he says. Instead, it’s about buying a respected business that’s already operating at a high level and bolstering his ability to deliver more IBM i and RPG services.
“The chances are we probably talked to them, because there’s a lot of customers that we know,” Woodard says. “If and when the time is right and they want to talk about modernization or transformation, we’ll be happy to do that. But the goal right now with the Silveredge folks is to stay focused on the application and focus on the things that we’re doing now. “
Boers plans to stay on through the transition to Fresche, and then she plans to step away from the business she co-founded 35 years ago. Boers says she expects Fresche to take good care of her team and keep the focus where it’s always been: on IBM i.
“From our perspective, it’s very important that we’re aligned with a company that’s IBM i focused,” she says. “As you know, this is a market that is close-knit and we want to be aligned with somebody who’s committed to the IBM i space. That’s important not only to us, but very important to our customers and very important to our employees.”
Marton has no immediate plans to move on. “The commitment I made to Steve is, I’ve had fun for the last 35 years. If I continue to have fun, I’ll be here as long as I’m having fun,” Marton says.
“We’ll make sure he has a ball,” Woodard says.