Spokane Journal of Business

Software developer in Valley reaches nationwide

Byte Dynamics now helps clients like Ticketmaster boost web-related systems

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Dave Lenartz cant seem to take his Technet hat off.

For nearly a decade, the Spokane software entrepreneur and other founders of that support group to high-tech companies here have sought ways to bolster Spokanes technology industries. In that same period, Lenartz has transformed his own software-development company, called Byte Dynamics Inc., from a tiny basement venture to a growing, sought-after concern that now does business nationwide with some high-profile clients.

In both capacities, Lenartz makes clear his fundamental focus: We can bring the work to Spokane.

Byte Dynamics has done just that. Though it has done work for some of Spokanes biggest companies, including Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. and Avista Corp., it now gets more than 80 percent of its business from clients outside the Inland Northwest, including such companies as New York-based Bell Atlantic Corp.

Among its most recent projects are work for Ticketmaster.com, the giant Pasadena, Calif.-based ticket seller that is thought to have the third largest e-commerce site in the nation; Variety, the well-known entertainment industry publication based in Hollywood; and San Francisco-based California Federal Bank, one of the nations largest thrifts.

Meanwhile, motivated by the economic-development goals Technet has pursued over the years, Lenartz recently took it upon himself to help prevent some high-tech expertise from leaving Spokane, by finding a way to retrain and find jobs for some 20 software engineers who had been laid off by Itron Inc. late last year. (See story this page).

Little need for marketing

Lenartz says that one of the reasons Byte Dynamics has built a national client base is because it has developed strategic alliances with other technology providers, such as Kirkland, Wash.-based Intuitive Manufacturing Systems Inc., a developer of sophisticated software for manufacturers, and Full Moon Interactive Group, an Internet designer to Fortune 2000 companies.

Word of mouth, he says, fills the Spokane Valley companys pipeline for new work.

Customers are calling us, Lenartz says from his modest office on North Pines Road. We dont have to have people out marketing (for more work).

Byte Dynamics 12 electrical and software engineers work mostly from the companys office here, taking advantage of the Internets power to shorten the distance between that office and the companys far-flung clients. Still, Lenartz has been making nearly weekly trips to Los Angeles to serve some clients, and two of his employees currently are there working on projects.

Flush with work, the company is looking to hire one or two more technical people immediately, and Lenartz predicts, conservatively, that the companys work force will grow by at least 50 percent within the next about eight months. He declines to disclose revenue figures.

Byte Dynamics has built its reputation by engineering software for manufacturing and warehousing tasks, including for embedded systems and real-time controls, as well as information systems that link such factory and warehouse systems to management, outside sales reps and field technicians, and customer-support centers.

Its now regularly called in by allies such as Intuitive Manufacturing Systems to provide some of the components needed in that Kirkland-based companys manufacturing resource planning, or MRP, programs, which, in a single software application, handle virtually all the tasks involved in manufacturing products, from parts procurement to assembly flow to shipping to invoicing.

In recent years, Lenartz, an electrical engineer by background, has nudged Byte Dynamics increasingly toward Internet technologies, and now a significant share of its work draws together its background in industrial and distribution settings with the increasing demand for information via the Internet.

In that vein, the company has developed software applications that use Internet technology to tap into information collected and stored in MRP systems, including for sales and customer-service applications, as well as a report generator that allows a manufacturers customers to check on the status of their orders. It sells that software under its own name as plug-ins to MRP software developed by others.

Weve taken the manufacturing floor to the Internet, says Lenartz.

Such web products are really opening doors for us, he says. Were doing a lot more Internet development.

In fact, the current projects Byte Dynamics is doing for Ticketmaster.com, Variety magazine, and California Federal, all are Internet related, Lenartz says. He says hes not allowed to discuss the work Byte Dynamics is doing for Variety or CalFed, but in Ticketmaster.coms case, his company was brought in by one of its strategic partners to help with an entire rewrite of their (Ticketmaster.coms) Internet interface, a very sophisticated system that links multiple databases with the web sites of Ticketmaster.com and its many business partners.

Byte Dynamics began working on that project in September, and most of its work now is completed, though the improved site hasnt been launched yet, pending Ticketmaster.coms resolution of some issues involving its multiple data centers and server farms, Lenartz says.

Well into that project, Lenartz says he became somewhat of a project manager for Ticketmaster.com, overseeing both his own staff and a team of Ticketmaster.com employees in Pasadena.

Lenartz calls that kind of relationship, which he has made a point of pursuing, a software foundry, in which Byte Dynamics staff melds with the staffs of its clients and partners as a single team. We want to become an extension of their team, he says.

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