Fortunately for AdvantageCS, Phil Montgomery didn’t like teaching high school. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in math, Phil took a teaching job where he not only taught math, but economics and sociology as well. However, after a few years, he concluded that teaching was not for him and returned to the university to get his MBA.
Phil then worked at a CPA firm for a year and a half. He found that the software aspect of the business was more to his liking than straight accounting, and when the company needed someone who could speak the language of finance and was also comfortable dealing face-to-face with clients, Phil fit the bill.
Feeling that his future success might well be in software, Phil then moved to T & B Computing (forerunner of AdvantageCS). And for the past 38 years, he has realized that success in abundance.
Although he has had many different titles and bosses in multiple locations, Phil says that basically, he has had the same job the whole time. It’s a combination of selling Advantage to prospective clients, helping them with all their implementation decisions and identifying how the software could be modified to better their operations. Plus, Phil always made a point of staying on top of any new regulations or business models that might affect clients.
Phil estimates that he has made between 400 and 500 trips to clients or prospective clients. Long-time coworker Ken Nemerovski describes the early days. “Back in the 80’s, Phil and I went on a lot of sales trips together. While I took care of the hardware and pricing questions, Phil was in the driver’s seat for demonstrating the software. His talents included excellent preparation, thorough knowledge of the software’s operating and reporting capabilities, and an incredible knack for being quick on his feet. Phil was never---NEVER---stumped by a question from a prospective client. No one has ever represented our company and software better than Phil.”
When asked if he has any favorite clients or trips, Phil recalls two in particular. Back in the mid-nineties, Phil was part of the implementation team for Williams & Wilkins (now part of Wolters Kluwer Health) in Baltimore. His boss noticed that he was unusually quick to volunteer for the next trip and that the client seemed to need a lot of onsite assistance. Besides the interesting project, it turns out that Phil had met his future wife, Lea, at W & W---and they married just after W & W went live.
The other most memorable client visit was when Phil worked on the implementation project for Bayard in Paris. He and Lea and their young daughter moved to Paris for a year and the experience was one they will never forget. Phil enjoyed a beautiful view of the Seine from his office window, and from their apartment (near Philipe van Mastrigt’s home), they were able to explore the City of Lights at their leisure.
Philippe has been on numerous prospect visits with Phil and recalls some of the most memorable aspects of working with him. “Phil is incredibly efficient during specification workshops. After the first day, he goes back to his hotel and works into the night, writing many of the specs that were discussed. He is a ‘to-do list’ guy, and loves being able to say a task is done.”
“And,” Philippe continues, “Phil remembers all the past specifications he wrote---even if they were not approved, and even if it’s years later!”
Although he was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, when Phil came to Michigan for college, he never left. Well, that is, not until he became a pioneer in the working-remotely movement and moved to Florida in 2001. But Phil makes it back to Michigan on a regular basis, both to visit the office and to see his daughter and grandchildren who live here.
Once responsible for nearly all of the documentation himself, Phil now oversees a documentation team. Documentation specialist Tim Martin quips “Phil is a great boss. He’s a thousand miles away.” Tim then goes on to describe what it’s been like working with Phil. “Not to mix metaphors, but for all of my twenty-plus years at AdvantageCS, Phil has kept us on our toes while also having our backs. His responsiveness to client needs set an example for all of us, and he always seemed able to find solutions that would elude everyone else. At the same time, he was a walking Wikipedia (the old comparison would have been “encyclopedia”) of Advantage functionality and all its hidden corners. Very early on I lost count of the number of times I’d ask him where a feature “lived” in the software, only to have him answer within a second or two. He’s been a master of tax and accounting issues, as is well-known, but he also seemed to know everything about everything else too. He’s been the boss everyone wishes they had, and I’ll miss him professionally and personally.”
In addition to his coworkers, Phil says he will miss the travel---meeting new people and getting to know clients. He will also miss the challenge of identifying a client’s needs, figuring out a solution and making it work. But it isn’t likely that Phil will be bored in retirement. He plans to play more golf, volunteer at his church, do some traveling and perfect his stand-up paddle-boarding technique.
Congratulations, Phil! You will be missed.