October 12, 1999
To Whom It May Concern:
I have known Rick Crandall since 1972. At that time he was President & CEO of Comshare, Incorporated, a pioneering timesharing company he founded in 1966 after completing his graduate studies at the University of Michigan. It was then that the United States was beginning to transition from its smokestack economy to the much more diverse economy of today. “High-tech” didn’t exist then. It was people like Rick who led the way and helped create it.
It is utterly remarkable that Rick held the position of President & CEO of Comshare until 1994. Twenty-six years as President & CEO of any public company would be an astounding record, but Rick accomplished this feat during a time of unprecedented economic, political and social change throughout the world. He skillfully managed his company through several waves of abrupt technological change, through several recessions, through periods of mergers and acquisitions, through conditions never before seen. Only a person with great vision, leadership and strategic thinking skills could have done what Rick did for as long as he did it.
Rick successfully reinvented Comshare not once but several times. The timesharing company became a software company for mainframe computers, and under Rick’s leadership Comshare pioneered in a market niche known as Decision Support. When personal computers and local area networks rocked the mainframe-computing world, Comshare exploited this new technology and pioneered again by creating a market niche known as EIS (Executive Information Systems). When the market began demanding packaged solutions, Comshare the software company became Comshare the applications company. These turns in the market killed many companies, but Comshare survived due to Rick’s keen abilities.
Rick’s vision is broad. He not only guided Comshare through tumultuous times, but he also helped guide the industry. He was an early and active member of ADAPSO – the computing industry’s first trade association – and served as its president in 1978. As a result, Rick is well known and well respected throughout the industry.
Finally, on a more personal note, I have never met anyone who has stimulated me more intellectually than Rick Crandall. He thinks out-of-the-box, he sees the big picture, he creates opportunity out of chaos, and he does all of these things with a practical, down-to-earth style that makes working with him fun. I feel fortunate to have worked with him for so long and to have him still on my Board.
I highly recommend Rick to any CEO who needs help with issues of strategy, vision, marketing and technology.
Dennis G. Ganster
President & CEO