This year we celebrate Optima becoming 30 years old. I remember only too well the very early days when we created the company together with the highs and lows we encountered along our long and winding path. In some ways it only seems like yesterday but in others it feels like an age. We started with 5 employees and now we have 18 and I thank everyone who has been involved with Optima over this time for the efforts you have put in and your generous loyalty to our brand.
When we started there was no Internet, no mobile phones and no social media. Windows 3.0 had just been launched and everyone was getting extremely excited about being able to do more than one thing at a time; until it crashed of course.
Today we all live in a very different place. I do not think that many people would have expected our world to have changed quite so much and in the way that it has. I for one wonder what the next 30 years has to offer. I very much hope that I will still be here to see it and be able to annoy my grandchildren with comments like ‘well in my day cars ran on petrol and we would very often sit around a table and talk to one another’.
Maybe some things won’t change and old traditions will continue on but what will happen next? I cant wait to find out!
30 years of moving around with Optima
In April of 1990 Optima Systems Ltd became a fully functioning start-up company consisting of 5 directors and operating out of our houses. We met up regularly and talked business; making plans and trying, where we could, to keep our fledgling company on the straight and narrow.
Our primary goal in those early days was for the 5 staff members to provide working and financial security to each of the others. At that time we concentrated on APL consultancy and providing services to a number of large international companies.
We soon found that working out of our houses was not ideal and decided that a proper office was required. We identified a 1st floor serviced office in George Street Croydon and that became our base for some while. Whilst here we expanded our business into UK transportation and worked with the then Department of Transport; we took on some more staff and also began to look overseas at the Pharma market in the US.
After a couple of years, the landlords of George Street decided that redevelopment was in order and so we had to move on. Probably good that we did as we really had outgrown the space available to us. The next move allowed us to expand further and properly extend into IT Support as well as APL consultancy. After some searching around we found a serviced office in Airport House, Purley that fitted the bill.
Airport House worked very well for us and we made many great contacts there. Some of those contacts we continue to help to this day.
We stayed at Airport House for around 4 years but outgrew this space and concluded that we required our own space with reception and our own facilities. We decided to move into offices that were not too far away, kept us in close touch with many of our clients, but that gave us the space and location we needed to grow further. We chose a location along the Brighton Road near to Purley and took the first floor of an office block. This gave us much more space and allowed us to create a training room which we used successfully for some time. We spent a good 4 years here as well but then the developers came along once more and we were forced to relocated again.
This time we decided that we needed our own building. We moved temporarily into Raleigh Court on the Crawley industrial estate whilst we looked for a suitable long-term home. 18 months went by but finally a new property in Spindle Way, Crawley appeared. In 2002 we bit the bullet, bought it and soon thereafter we moved in.
With the space and opportunities offered to us we were now able to move into the Web Design market and offer a full range of IT services to our customers. We started by occupying just one floor of the building but soon were able to take on the second.
But we continue to grow. What’s next?, where’s next? you’ll have to watch this space. 30 years on and the story continues...
Paul is the founder and Managing Director of Optima Systems which he set up in 1990. His role today has changed considerably since those early days and now he spends much of his time on the road talking to new potential clients and spreading the word. Paul visits the USA on a regular basis as well as travelling around the UK particularly now that Optima has moved away from primarily financial software into the realms of clinical data and medical research. More about Paul.