Karl Davis started at AdvantageCS nearly 34 years ago, as a programmer/analyst assigned to what was then called the CIR development team. He spent 20 years on that team, 15 or so as its leader, until he was named to head up the newly-formed Engineering Consulting and Implementations team. That has been Karl’s home for the past 14 years.
Dan Heffernan knew Karl before he joined AdvantageCS. “I was a housemate of Karl’s in 1983. Karl has always been meticulous, as well as precise, neat and tidy. So, when another housemate changed his oil in Karl’s garage and then proceeded to spill some on the floor and back the car out leaving dark, oily tire marks down the driveway--- well, it was all Karl could do to keep from destroying the driveway and re-paving it! Only the cost stopped him. Our housemate was allowed to continue living there, though I believe his rent was tripled, allowing Karl to save for the day when he COULD re-pave the driveway. (That last sentence isn’t true, fortunately. If you know Karl, you know he’d never be unjust!)”
An Ann Arbor resident all his life, Karl studied civil engineering at the University of Michigan and was interested in hydraulics and hydrology. He went on to earn a master’s degree in water resources management and his first job was with Bechtel, as a hydraulic engineer. After 9 years there, the company---which was involved in the design and construction of nuclear power plants---downsized due to market conditions and reduced their engineering staff in the Ann Arbor regional office by more than 95%.
Karl had friends who worked at AdvantageCS (then T & B Computing) and they persuaded him to come aboard. In those early days, he provided project management and support for one main client, as well as engineering services. With some additional classes in computer science, however, Karl soon became a full-time software engineer, which was just what he wanted. It is interesting to note that through his entire career at AdvantageCS, Karl has been a “client-facing” engineer, which is not typically the case.
Dick Hile has been Karl’s supervisor for many years. “Karl never fails to earn the respect and liking of the clients he works with,” says Dick. “If we held a competition for most miles traveled and most hours worked, Karl would be in the Final Four---at least---every year. I will miss both his numerous contributions and his friendship.”
Karl served as the lead engineer on scores of implementation projects which meant that he traveled a lot. He worked in Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, several cities in California and also Canada. Then AdvantageCS entered the UK and European markets, and Karl worked on projects in London, Oxford, Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels, Helsinki, Helsingborg and Sydney, Australia. And this is not a complete list! For the past 10-12 years, Karl has spent between 12 and 18 weeks abroad each year. Although 70-80% of these trips were on his own, Karl enjoyed the travel and---in his words---the privilege of working with great clients and helping them to be successful by using Advantage.
Phil Montgomery has worked with Karl for 30+ years and notes that Karl is well-known for his thoroughness. According to Phil, this is a true representation of an answer from Karl: “Well, that’s an excellent question and I can see where you are coming from, that being that it is important to be able to actually get the issue to the customer. Let me restate your question coming from the perspective of the sequence of events which I want to make sure you are aware of, the steps I took to understand things and the options that were possible---in particular the M setting for the Bulk Labels option---there are a couple other settings, which I can explain further if you want, but I don’t think we need to. You see, the reason the customers didn’t get the issue is that you didn’t request CIR410 and that’s why no labels were created!”
(That’s pretty thorough, alright!)
Karl has developed some great relationships over the years. As he says, going through a major project is somewhat like being in a battle, and just as in wartime, teammates develop deep and lasting bonds. The people he has worked with---both at AdvantageCS and at client sites---are what Karl will miss the most.
“I worked with Karl on many projects, going back to 1997,” says Tim Zapawa. “It was always reassuring, to me and to our clients, to have Karl on a project, as he understands subscription management so well and works tirelessly to ensure that our clients' requirements are fully understood and implemented. It was also fun traveling with Karl---we shared many meals and good times in many different cities. Best wishes, Karl, for a fantastic retirement!”
Karl is joined in retirement by his wife, Ellen, who is retiring from the documentation team at AdvantageCS, where she has worked part-time for the past 10 years. Retirement plans involve taking a few months to settle in and then reading, doing volunteer work, and playing golf and softball. Karl and Ellen plan to take one or two major trips each year, to destinations such as Hawaii, Australia and Europe. Even though Karl may have traveled to some of these places, he confessed that in all those years, he never once went sightseeing by himself. So, there will be lots of new things for him to see. Their next trip is a river cruise through the heart of France. They would also like to visit as many U.S. national parks as possible.
Karl and Ellen have 3 adult children, none of whom, Karl said with a smile, showed any interest in engineering. Daughter Katherine is a pre-school teacher, currently home with her two young daughters. She and her husband Zac and the girls live nearby, and spending time with the grandchildren is a priority for Karl and Ellen. Daughter Lauren and her husband Mike, live in Manhattan, and Lauren---a social worker---works with psychiatric patients at the Columbia University Hospital. Son Michael also chose social work and is working on his master’s degree at Wayne State University in Detroit. He is active in the Big Brother program.
Congratulations, Karl---and Ellen! You will be missed.