Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton is handing over the reins this month, for the Notes from the President section of the newsletter, to allow two long-term, valuable employees to share their thoughts as they take steps toward new and exciting changes.

Marlene Moore

There are times in one’s life that cause you to stop and reflect on the experiences and the people you have encountered. Retiring from a job that you have done for over 35 years is one of those times. What is even more astounding is that there are a lot of you I have been talking to since those first years of home computers in the 80s. Ken Hilton asked me to write an announcement to let our customers know that as of July 1st, I will be transitioning from doing phone support to a new position at Red Wing Software. In reflecting back to my first years with this company, I was trying to remember when I began doing support full time. My first years were part time doing various jobs while being additionally occupied with four young daughters. At that time, Ken was handling all of the customer support. Yes, that's right, Ken was a one-person support team! I don’t remember the exact date, but Ken was gone for a week at a trade show. When he returned, the support calls were all done. That marked the beginning of relationships I have accumulated with so many wonderful people we have as customers. In the midst of resolving your accounting and payroll puzzles, we have laughed a lot together, swapped stories, and sometimes shared tears. You have been friends, as well as customers.

My goal remains to help you, but in a different position assisting in the development of various CenterPoint training tools. I will also be in the office less hours giving me more time for our 12 grandchildren and their endless activities.

So why does one continue to work for the same company for 38+ years? For me, it is because I am proud to be part of the Red Wing Software team, I believe in the products we provide, and I have enjoyed what I do. Who wouldn’t want to sit in a comfortable chair all day, talk to a great bunch of folks from all over the country, and solve puzzles? That brings it back to you. Thank you for being gracious and loyal customers of Red Wing Software! You have been a pleasure to work with and I feel very privileged to have assisted you in your businesses through all the years. I wish you success and continued great relationships with the Red Wing Software team.

Mark Machtemes

As the days fly by bringing me to my retirement day at Red Wing Software, my mind reflects on many memories going back to 1982, when I first started in the software business and my relationship with Red Wing Software. Looking back 36 years, Red Wing Software was a pretty small company and the personal computer and software industries were just starting to be implemented by small businesses and farmers. As all of my time in the industry revolved around sales, it provided me the opportunity to meet lots of great people, many who are still customers, marketing partners, current and past employees and even competitors. It’s still exciting working with both new and long-time customers along with industry acquaintances, in many cases these people became life-long friends. I remember a sales mentor once explaining to me the difference between a good sales person and a great sales person; he said “A good sales person will remember a customer’s spouse and kid’s names, while a great sales person will remember the customer’s spouse name, their kid’s names and family dog’s name.” When you get to know the people you work with that well, it pretty much cements a long-time relationship.

While the industry continues to change at a very fast pace, sometimes creating some stressful moments and the need to learn new things, it also provides businesses the ability to improve efficiency and capture more financial information about their business. Through all the technology changes, Red Wing Software has strived to provide great software products and awesome software support services. If and when a conflict arises, Ken Hilton, President of Red Wing Software response is, “Let’s try to do what is in the customer’s best interest.” It’s easy to understand why Red Wing Software has many long-time customers. Seeing and hearing customers’ success stories is probably the best part of coming to work every day and being part of this organization.

Although retirement will allow me more time to golf, fish, travel, spend time with family and friends and probably drive my wife Pamela a little crazy, it’s also a little scary realizing I won’t be spending as much time with all the amazing staff at Red Wing Software.

I’ve already informed a fellow staff member to text me when Pam Hilton is making a batch of cookies, as the Terminator would say, “I’ll Be Back.”

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

I often talk about the great employees we have at Red Wing Software and how long some have been with our company. Well, at the end of this month, after over thirty years, Mark Machtemes, our New Business Development Manager will be retiring. Since the middle 1980s, Mark has helped the company grow from just a few hard-working souls to a place where many dedicated people write and sell our software and support our customers. Mark has served many roles at Red Wing Software over the years, mostly in the sales department, working trade shows, helping acquire new customers, and most recently, searching for, and securing new reselling partners. He also works with other companies that want to integrate their software solutions with Red Wing Software’s accounting and payroll applications.

With Mark’s vast knowledge of our current products and services and our legacy software, he has been a valuable resource, especially when questions arise about legacy functionality and how tasks translate to our current products. He also serves on many teams to help determine which new features should be developed to enhance our customers’ experience with their software.

Starting the first of July, we’ll see Mark boating, fishing, golfing, and enjoying his family in various parts of the country. I’ve heard rumors about a list that his wife, Pam, has for him to accomplish, but she might have to track him down first. We wish them the best in their new-found freedom. We will certainly miss Mark around the office.

On a side note, we want to welcome a new employee to Red Wing Software. Jamie started with the company May 16th in the support department. She comes with great customer service skills, and you may soon be communicating with her about your software questions. We now have two specialists in the support department with similar names. Please bear with us while we try to figure out how to determine whether we should transfer your calls to Jayme or Jamie.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend while remembering those who served our country to keep us safe and free.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

If it works, don’t fix it. I’m sure everyone has heard that statement, but is this philosophy always good to live by? That depends on what it is that “works”. In some cases, you can get away with letting things fail, and then take the action to fix or replace them. In other cases, it’s a good idea to fix things at the first sign of trouble, and sometimes things should be “fixed” even before anything appears to be wrong. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Let’s say the speakers on your computer are making a funny noise, and it’s not because you’re watching hilarious YouTube videos. It might be okay to put up with the noise because if the speakers fail, it’s probably not critical to running your business. Or, your car is making a noise that you have identified and it is not compromising safety. In this case, you can turn the speakers up and not hear the noise anymore.

About two years ago one of the sensors in my wife’s car that tells when the tire pressure is low malfunctioned and was always on. The tire was fine, but the light was a little annoying, so we spent the money and got the sensor replaced. Recently, the light came on again. Of course, the first thought is a bad sensor, but after checking the air pressure, we determined it, in fact, needed some air. Problem solved, the light went out… for a couple of days. When the light came on again, we discovered there was a screw in the tire. It was a good thing we replaced the sensor and didn’t ignore the light in the first place, or she may have been stuck on the side of the road.

Finally, how is your computer running? I’ll bet it’s running just fine, so why would you need to back up your information? Computers rarely give you a sign that something is about to go haywire. That doesn’t mean you don’t need a backup. And, while we’re talking about technology, how old is the computer and/or software that your business is relying on? Eventually, the computer will fail, and the old software on it may not run on new equipment. Are you prepared to reenter all the information you need to run your business because your data will not move to newer software? Think about it.

Sometimes things need to be fixed, even if they still work.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

Spring is here according to the calendar. Although, with snow on the ground in many parts of the country, it may not feel like it. The arrival of spring prompts many of us to start thinking about doing some spring cleaning. Included in your spring cleaning should be a review of your financial information. Here are a few things to think about cleaning up.

When entering transactions, it’s easy to enter, as new, the name of a customer or vendor that may already exist in your database. This creates a duplicate of that name and may make it difficult to find transactions related to that name. Having duplicate names also skews the numbers, when performing analysis of the business you’ve conducted with that person or company. In CenterPoint, you can easily go into setup and combine duplicate entries, making it easier to find transactions for that name.

Another example is one that I recently completed with my own personal data. Since I started keeping my personal records in our software (November 1987), I have had separate accounts (subaccounts) for electricity and gas under a utilities account. After over thirty years, (apparently, I’m a slow learner) I realized I have never looked at my utility costs at that level, so I combined the two accounts into a single utilities account I called “gas and electric”. Not a big deal, but it makes my data a little cleaner.

Of course, it’s also the end of a calendar quarter, and that’s always a good time to take a look at how your actual business is doing compared to the budget you created for the year. (You did create a budget, didn’t you?) Also, it’s good timing to check inventory that you have on hand against the information in your accounting program.

I’m sure you can think of a number of other things that can be done as part of your spring (data) cleaning.

Red Wing Software - Notes from the President Ken Hilton

Ken Hilton - President Red Wing Software

At Red Wing Software, we know the importance of keeping payroll tax tables up-to-date. We make every effort possible to ensure you have the latest tax table information, in most cases even before they become effective. I read an article indicating one of the popular off-the-shelf payroll packages was touting that they would have the new federal withholding table available as early as mid-February. These tables were available in CenterPoint Payroll for our customers the very next day after they were published by the IRS. We also stay on top of the payroll tax changes in all states and territories, making sure our customers are using the most recent data.

While we keep the software updated, there are other things that need to be considered when it comes to proper withholding. Keep in mind that some employees may request additional withholding be taken each pay period based on their experience with previous years’ results. With the changes to the default tax tables, it may be important for them to recalculate the estimate of taxes they will owe for the year, and rethink the amount of extra withholding they have deducted. It’s a good idea to inform employees of this situation, and request they complete new W-4 forms if they would like to adjust their number of dependents or extra state or federal withholding.