OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP
The JaRay Software system was created in 1978 to help Paul Farmer and his dad computerize their businesses. Paul sold his business and joined his father and sister, Jane Jantz to help develop and market the JaRay Software system in 1992. JaRay evolved to be the preferred software for the Roto-Rooter franchise system and other field service companies in 3 continents. When their father passed away, Jane and Paul decided to form two separate corporations so that they could concentrate on their core competencies. Jane continued to develop the software and Paul invested in state of the art servers. Famhost became one of the first “clouds” in the world to host an enterprise application. Famhost continued to develop integrated applications for JaRay including Famalytics, GPS, and a Digital Pen service utilizing the GPS devices to transmit the data. Famhost also developed a Bluetooth to cellular modem and ancillary applications, integrated phone service, and wireless devices (phones) as a service. ServiceTitan acquired JaRay in 2018 but all of the intellectual capital of the integrated applications was retained by Famhost. Jane decided to retire and enjoy her grandkids. This video is about our family and the ServiceTitan acquisition of JaRay.
We believe in long term partnerships with our customers, employees, and vendors. When dad died in 1992, I found a bunch of green cards that he had printed and laminated. They were in customer, employee, and vendor folders. Although dad was a strong Christian, none of us siblings (8) ever heard him quote Proverbs 20:7. “When a man walks in integrity and justice, happy are his children after him!” I believe that they were only for him, to remind him that what he does in private is what creates his legacy. I am truly blessed by his life and try to walk in integrity and justice so that my children and grandchildren will also be happy.
As a developer for dispatching software, we needed to add vehicle tracking to our software. We started integrating our own GPS system in the 1990s, before the government approved plans to add three additional GPS signals for non-military use and ended the “selective availability” program that decreased the accuracy. The early days were brutal. There was a lot more to it than just triangulating satellite locations and offsetting the location data for accuracy. We had to also send the data to our software system and show the locations of our customers’ assets on a map. Google maps wouldn’t exist for another 5 years. We integrated with 6 different mapping interfaces. But that wasn’t even the hardest part. There were no reliable wireless networks to send the data. When we started manufacturing our devices, we used Mobitex, the first public access wireless data communication services in North America. It was a data-only technology for short burst data. We were going to purchase modems sold by Research in Motion (RIM – later, they changed their name to BlackBerry). After testing and development, we decided to manufacture in Burbank California. When we finally placed our first “real” order of modems, RIM had decided to quit selling modems and a competitor purchased all they had. We found another manufacturer in Australia. They came to our office in Wichita Ks and we ordered a hundred modems to test. We built 100 prototypes and placed them strategically with customers across the US and Canada. The results were lest that desirable. Our largest customers were in California, so I took a few of the very expensive prototypes and rented a car in Vegas that had just been dropped off. It had 6 miles on the Odometer. I drove from LA to San Francisco, to San Diego and back calling my chief developer and the manufacturers in Australia asking, “Can you see me now?” When I returned it a week later, I had over 3,000 miles on it. Evidently the modems were not compatible on this side of the pond. I tried interfacing with several manufacturers of GPS units with similar results. That was before we started hosting the JaRay program and we needed multiple servers in each of our customers’ operations. I really appreciated the patience of our early adopters. I decided I didn’t want to manufacture.
After a lot of research, in 2000 we finally discovered Wireless Links, with manufacturing operations in Israel. They had recently opened an office in New York. My wife and I flew to New York and met with Joe Shayovitch, the founder. I was impressed with his knowledge of the industry and the quality of his products. We became a partner/integrator with them and our first project was to integrate their GPS system with our Bluetooth Digital pen (Linkwriter) system utilizing Anoto’s technology. That is another story of much pain and suffering. I should write a book on some of these projects. Wireless Links did their part – It was incredible. But we couldn’t get Anoto to work with us on the pattern licensing. Every page had to send the data to Sweden to authenticate and then back to wherever our data was processed. Let’s just say that there were a lot of problems with global Internet in 2000. We even wrote another software system that enabled us to encrypt and make sure that all the data was sent. That is another story. Anyway, we decided to just do GPS and stupidly tried many other manufacturers and GPS companies with cheaper systems. To finally make this story end, when ServiceTitan purchased JaRay, I was done with crap. I told all of our customers that they should probably move on to a different GPS company if they wanted cheap. There were a few customers who didn’t want to move on. I decided to swallow my pride and go back to the only GPS company that I had any faith in, even if they cost more. I’m proud to partner with Wireless Links, by far the best GPS system in the world.