A year ago Progress Software, which makes a relational database and tools used by independent software vendors for building applications, decided to shake up its Canadian unit.

Apparently it worked.

This week at meetings with Canadian employees, partners and customers, Bedford, Mass.-based

Progress announced that licence revenues from the division are expected to shoot up from about US$3.5 million to US$5.8 million – a 66 per cent leap – when its fiscal year ends this month.

“”It’s been a fantastic year,”” Ron Reed, the company’s Canadian manager said at a Toronto luncheon Tuesday for its ISVs and users.

After Reed was hired from J.D. Edwards Canada in the summer of 2002 he brought in people who had experience in going out and making business.

“”Prior to a year and a half ago the Progress business in Canada was somewhat neglected,”” he said in an interview. “”We delivered when you called on us but we weren’t out there proactively engaging with partners and customers.””

Among the people added was Larry Allcorn, a JDE colleague who headed that company’s services division here and now is Progress’ regional consulting manager.

One of the ISVs that saw a difference is Strategic Information Technology Ltd., a Stouffville, Ont. company which makes applications for banks with Progress tools.

“”We have more interaction with Progress Canada than we ever had,”” said company president Rob Leeming.

“”After 13 years of forging our own path it’s an interesting new angle to have someone helping you. . . It’s nice to have someone from the Progress side making the effort.””

That includes such simple things as getting Progress VARs to talk to each other, and supporting partners’ sales efforts.

“”We’ve actually had some leads from Progress, which we never had in the past.””

Reed and Progress CEO and co-founder Joseph Alsop are on a cross-country tour, visiting Progress’ offices in Toronto and Montreal. A Calgary office was opened in January. Progress has 12 employees in the three cities, 1,400 world-wide.

It has 70 software Canadian partners.

“”What’s really unique about Progress Software amongst all vendors is the success we enjoy with partners,”” Alsop told the Tuesday luncheon. “”We get something like over 50 per cent of our business from out partners. We depend on our partners for your vertical expertise, and our end user customers benefit not just from the capabilities of our technology to build or enhance applications but from the fact that there are thousands of applications to choose from that have been created by partners.””

The publicly traded company has three divisions: Progress, known for its OpenEdge Studio application development suite and RDBMS embedded database; Sonic Software, which makes middleware; and PeerDirect, a Mississauga database replication software company it bought two years ago.

In addition to licencing revenue Progress also gets income from an application service provider offering, which lets ISPs host Progress-built applications.

Competitors include application and database vendors such as IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and BEA.

Recently Progress announced third quarter revenues of US$77 million, including software licence revenue of US$27.2 million. Revenue from Sonic Software increased 64 per cent in the quarter, the company said.

For more about Progess CEO Joseph Alsop, in which he talks about company strategy, the value of partners and why he admires Margaret Thatcher, see the Dec. 5 issue of Computer Dealer News.

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