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Garrettsville – Erika Frankel is celebrating 20 years in business. That’s a noteworthy accomplishment in itself, but considering she founded a tech company before the dawn of the Internet, in a small town like Garrettsville, it’s somewhat mind-boggling.

Erika Frankel
Erika Frankel

Frankel started Hammer Data Systems, LLC at 8138 Main Street in historic downtown Garrettsville in 1995, as “your source for practical real-world information management solutions.” Today, the company touts, “Your computer systems should work for you, not the other way around. Whether you are looking for a database system to manage your business, an eye-catching revenue-generating Internet site or an integrated combination of both, we provide system design, database programming and Web page integration to businesses big and small.”

Hammer Data Systems is now a partnership between Frankel (a requirements analyst and project manager) and Mark Lasersohn (a senior systems engineer). Frankel says, “between the two of us, there is no aspect of a software project we can’t handle.”

Their two key employees run the software support department, graphics and Web development. Their office manager has been with Hammer for 12 years. Recently, they hired another programmer, and they bring in various specialists as needed, ranging from interns to senior programmers who travel from as far away as Germany and England to work on special projects.

When asked how doing business has changed in the past 20  years, Frankel says, “In short, the Internet happened. Twenty years ago, most small businesses and even departments in large companies were focused on their desktop systems and limited internal networks. They expected to do business face-to-face with people who were based in their area or willing to travel to them on a regular basis.

Now, even very small businesses are concerned about integrating their internal systems with websites, email, text messaging, and social media. Remote programs allow us to support, install, and even develop without having to leave our offices, and most of our clients are perfectly comfortable with that.”

Due to mobile technology, businesspeople are increasingly less tied to their offices. They want to use their smartphones and digital tablets to access everything about their jobs from wherever they happen to be. As time goes on, “we’re going to be doing a lot less building of complete systems and a lot more tying together of systems built by others in a way that meets the specific business requirements of the client. It’s a very different model, but our goal is, as always, to shoulder the burden of the changes so our clients don’t have to.”

Adaptability to constant change is the standard in this business, where “our toolbox changes constantly. There is always a new system, a new look, a new technique, a new language, a new platform, etc. We’re always learning and always evaluating, because our clients need to know what’s worth adopting and what’s just making a lot of noise,” Frankel explains.

Despite constant change, businesses always seek the same thing, Frankel contends: More accurate and complete information which can be accessed more quickly and with less work. Hammer Data specializes in identifying the repetitive, manual, error-prone processes that consume time for business owners and their employees, and establishing ways for their computers to do that work for them. “Computers aren’t smart, but they are fast,” she says.

One may wonder how effective it is, doing high-tech business in a small town like Garrettsville  Frankel says, “We are in a unique situation in that our business has no dependence on physical location. We do almost all of our work via Internet, so our reach is worldwide. Our software is running in over 30 countries. Because of this, we are in a position to give back to the community by working at significantly reduced rates for our local small businesses and organizations. We’re in the process right now of building simple store management software — based on our flagship product, Sesame Database Manager — designed to be used by several business right here on Main Street.”

Hammer’s primary project since 1999 has been ongoing development and support of this software product, Sesame Database Manager. The software company Lantica Software, LLC, hired Hammer as the development company for this desktop database management package, first released in 2003.

Although Hammer Data is open during normal business hours, a phone call (330-527-4018) or email (erika@hammerdata.com) is the best way to contact Hammer Data Systems. Be sure to wish them a happy 20th anniversary when you do!