Matrix Software is celebrating its 40th anniversary!
A retrospective on 40 years of growth, development, and innovation.
Matrix Software, a part of the Civenso Group, is the specialist in construction technical automation. "We provide software and services to engineers, concrete factories, steel builders, and window frame producers," says CEO Heico Heuver. "From our offices in Nijmegen, Winterswijk, Mechelen (Belgium), and Vilnius (Lithuania), 52 experienced and motivated employees handle the development, sales, delivery, and support of modern automation solutions. 40 years after our inception, we serve approximately 1,400 customers in the Benelux, have 9,000 active software licenses, and offer 19 powerful software packages." A retrospective on 40 years of growth, development, and innovation.
Ron Weener, technical director of Matrix Software.
Heico Heuver, CEO of Matrix Software.
The success story of Matrix Software begins in 1983 when founders Ton van Rijswijk and Hans Scholten identify an interesting opportunity in the market. "The founding coincides with the rise of the personal computer," says former technical director Ron Weener, who joined as the first employee in 1983. "At that time, the common computers were still mainframes and minisystems, mainly used in data centers due to their size and cost. In 1982, however, the microcomputer was introduced, costing 'only' ƒ25,000 instead of ƒ250,000. This made it commercially viable to develop software for intensive calculations, such as strength calculations for engineering firms." He explains that most software companies for mainframes and minisystems decided to downsize their packages for minicomputers. "This posed limitations because each company could only operate one brand of computer. Instead, we started from scratch. This led to a uniform software program for the calculation of forces and deformations in structures, supported by all contemporary computer brands. This made us unique in the market. The calculation, based on mathematical matrix calculations, was also the inspiration for our company name: Matrix Software."
"After engineering firms, software programs for steel construction companies and the window frame industry quickly followed," says Ron. In the years that followed, Matrix Software experienced steady growth, both in terms of software packages, target markets, and the number of employees. To accommodate all these employees, the company moved several times. In 1988, it moved to Keizer Karelplein in Nijmegen, and in 1993, it relocated to its current building on Wijchenseweg. This move coincided with Matrix Software's 10th anniversary, and as we approach our 40th anniversary, we are soon expanding to our next office space. In 1989, the Matrix Software team was strengthened with the addition of Heico Heuver.
In the mid-'90s, a new turning point in the market emerged as Microsoft Windows made a breakthrough with Windows 95. "Over 10 years of software development for MS-DOS had to be entirely converted to software for the Windows platform," says Ron. "After some pilot projects, we concluded that a significant development capacity was required for this task. In fact, due to the substantial differences in technological platforms, conversion was almost impossible. New software was necessary. Heico and I, as the management of the Building department, wanted to start this as soon as possible, but unfortunately, we did not get the cooperation we hoped for. The programmers of the Building department were already assigned to projects for a new and fourth target group: marketing information systems (CRM). The founders wanted to focus on this, which resulted in a management buy-out in 1996. This gave us the freedom to realize our plans."
Expansion towards Lithuania
Meanwhile, competitor companies had already prepared their software for Windows 95. "Fortunately for us, a new version of Windows had been developed in the meantime, which was much more powerful," says Ron. "This gave us the opportunity to fully focus on this new development." Heico adds, "The only problem was that we no longer had programmers. Due to the Y2K bug and the euro conversion, the supply of new programmers was very scarce. That's why we decided to move to a low-wage country. After thorough research, we settled on Lithuania. In October 1996, the greenfield operation Matrix Software Baltic was established in Vilnius, from where the rebuilding of our software took place. This allowed us to keep the majority of our customers on board! The software developers in the Netherlands were given a new task", Ron explains. "They were allowed to design the software in collaboration with our customers, which was then programmed in Vilnius. Starting with seven programmers in 1997, we now have a successful and efficient team of 20 programmers, analysts, and project managers. Together with the 32 employees in our offices in Nijmegen, Winterswijk, and Mechelen (sales, support, product management, and management), the Matrix Software group now consists of 52 employees."
Acquisition of companies and activities
"Because we developed our software from scratch again in Vilnius, with skilled programmers, we laid a very solid foundation," emphasizes Ron. "This is still evident today. Our software is very professional and flexible, which has garnered us a large and loyal customer base." In addition to the organic growth of Matrix Software, the company has also opted for growth through acquisitions. This has resulted, for example, in the acquisition of Softwarehouse Hilversum (1999), CAE Software (2000), Kooijman kozijnsoftware (2007), Precision Technics (2009), and ATS (2022). With the acquisition of iTConcrete in 2017, Matrix Software also took its first steps in the concrete industry. In early October 2023, Techwin in Mechelen was acquired, further strengthening and expanding Matrix Software's customer base and geographical position in Belgium. In 2021, Matrix Software became part of the Civenso Group from Sweden, a group of international software companies specializing in software for designing and producing building structures. Since then, Heico has been in charge of the day-to-day management. Ron has since retired but remains involved as an advisor.
Heading towards cloud-based software solutions
In the year 2023, Matrix Software is strongly focusing on cloud-based software solutions. Following the transition from mainframes and minisystems to minicomputers and from MS-DOS to Windows, a new market shift is currently taking place: from network computers to the cloud. "As Matrix Software, we have been quite forward-thinking in this trend," says Heico. "In 2015, we already had a complete cloud-based webshop environment for windows, which we continue to build upon. Our goal is to migrate all our software solutions to the cloud in the coming period, not only nationally but also internationally." Under the leadership of Heico and supported by the international software companies of the Civenso Group, Matrix Software aims to further expand in Europe. There are also promising opportunities in Asia. To be continued for sure...