Mistral's founders and a brief company history.
Chris Latham-Smith MCIM MInstR and Frank Dennis OBE 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 business leadership roles. Each motivated by a strong desire to redress the appalling service 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 only a little over 18 months to research, write and prove. With consultation and advice from three leading universities and three major RAC manufacturers. However it took a further 3 years and by this time a gamble by the shareholders to invest a total of more than 200,000 Pounds before late in 1989 the founders considered it safe to launch. To be completely proven, error trapped and with a sufficiently intuitive user interface so as to be generally marketable. It was an instant success and quickly established itself as the standard program for the industry. The position which, after further investments now totalling over 17 million Pounds to date, six major re-writes, countless upgrades and new fortnightly 'builds' and as a 32 bit Windows program it still retains today. The undisputed world leader in the Expert System Software genre Mistral alone was responsible for creating. Now with a customer base of tens of thousands of RAC Professionals, small businesses to major corporations, leading educationalists and government bodies, across 140 nations world-wide.
Sadly two of Mistral's original 'characters' are no longer with us. Frank Dennis OBE 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 from an average of 80 hours to just 65 hours! Rumour has it that the last vacation Chris took was in the year of the company's foundation - in 1984!
Some of Mistral's much younger team assembled as far back as 1992 happily work for the company today, more than a quarter of a century on! Everyone hopes they will continue to contribute their outstanding talent for decades to come.