Frank Dennis OBE and Chris Smith MCIM MInstR founded Mistral Associates in 1984 and later with the help of Jim Swithenbank nurtured it through its early precarious years. Three long serving and well known 'characters' from the RAC Manufacturing and Food Service industries. Each with already over half a lifetime's dedicated professional service in their respective senior managerial roles. Each motivated by a strong desire to redress the appalling service computer software developers offered the RAC industry at the time.
The first working program, a DOS based routine for accurate calculation of coldroom refrigeration loads, took a little over six months to research, write and prove. However it took a further three years before in 1989 the founders considered it completely proven, totally error trapped and with a sufficiently intuitive user interface so as to be marketable. It was an instant success and quickly established itself as the standard program for the industry. The position of course that after six major re-writes, countless new 'builds' and now as a 32 bit Windows program it still retains today.
Sadly two of Mistral's original 'characters' are no longer with us. Frank Dennis died in 1989 and Jim Swithenbank in 1998. Both though left an indelible mark and neither will ever be forgotten. Chris Smith now lives in France having finally accepted medical advice to take 'early retirement'. Meaning that he has since reduced his working week to an average of just 65 hours! Rumour has it that the last vacation Chris took was in the year of the company's foundation - in 1984. Members of Chris's family will also testify to being asked to help trialing new program installation procedures within minutes of finishing their Christmas dinner!
"It's only software!" As clients' Accounts Departments will say when being chased for their overdue licence fees!
Some of Mistral's much younger team assembled as far back as 1992 still work for the company today, more than quarter of a century on! Naturally everyone hopes they will continue to contribute the product of their outstanding talent for decades to come.
"Bringing the benefits of computerisation to our industry - without the historically associated problems."