From floppy disks to cloud technology: Dave Affleck’s journey with a la mode

Written by on July 26, 2018

Thinking about the early days of a la mode brings to mind nostalgic memories – software on floppy disks, hefty user manuals, big boxy white computers…

The technology seems archaic now, but at the time it was cutting edge.

Dave Affleck, the man, the myth, the legend was one of the founding members of a la mode to get down and dirty with this top-of-the-line technology. He hopped on the a la mode train back in 1991, and he’s been riding along for the adventure ever since. In fact, he’s been with the company longer than any other employee.

He sat down with us recently and told his tale of a la mode through the decades.

When the company started in 1985, a la mode was located in Oklahoma City. But when Affleck came on the scene, the company had actually just moved to a small office out in Murray, Utah.

“I think including Dave as the owner and myself as the new hire, we had seven total employees.

I remember during my interview when I was shown around, it was a big deal and they wanted me to see that they had a file server. You know, like ‘we’re big-time’.

It was DOS, there was no Windows yet," said Dave.

After joining the team, Dave soon became a renaissance man at a la mode. He started in shipping but soon worked his way into other areas of the company. "It didn’t even exist.”

“I started on the production and shipping end of things. The company was just getting going back then, and everything was on floppy disks.," said Dave. "So, if a salesperson made a sale, they had to duplicate a floppy and label it, package it with a manual, box it up, and do it all themselves. But they started saying they didn’t have time to do all of that and sell the products too, so I got hired to do it.”

Affleck pretty quickly had his shipping duties down pat. With only half an hour of his day filled with shipping responsibilities, he added some work to his routine.

“I read all of the manuals for TOTAL and started answering the phones. Then, it didn’t take long for me to be the number one tech guy, the number one sales guy, and the shipping guy,” he said.

As time went on and the customer base got bigger, the sales and tech departments were moved back to Oklahoma City, but the shipping department remained in Utah under Affleck’s supervision. It wasn’t long before the company grew so much that Affleck had a dozen employees working for him.

“Everything was going out in the mail, and there were no downloads – appraisers didn’t have the Internet at that time. That was a big operation, keeping all of our customers satisfied."

But of course, like any job, there were always hiccups that would slow down production time –

“Bad floppy disks were the scourge of my existence. The math was horrendous as TOTAL got to be a huge program as you know. Before we switched over to CDs, a complete TOTAL install was about two dozen floppy disks. So, bad disks were a nightmare. It was happy days for me when we moved to CDs and DVDs,” he said.

I love getting out and spending time in literally the most remote locations I can get to — on foot, or by jeep. Life needs a healthy dose of adventure and spice!
– Dave Affleck
“I spun up some more new stuff, I got tech representatives, a QA team, and a product management team all running out of Salt Lake for XSites. Then when 2008 happened, we scaled back quite a bit and brought it down to primarily a development office. I wasn’t exclusively devoted to XSites anymore either. We basically had people working on every product except TOTAL.
With the onset of the new CD and DVD technology, the new lower maintenance shipping production was moved to the OKC office.
With that, Affleck was tasked with a new adventure completely different from sales, support, or shipping. He was asked to start working as a product developer. His first project? The XSite. And after some serious hard work for a couple of years, he got the XSite off the ground as one of the first websites built specifically for appraisers.

As the years went on, the Salt Lake office migrated to a three-person operation.

“These days, we have me and one other guy working on Titan Reports. And our third employee is on another project, but any time there’s an emergency or a hot potato, he hops on that. So, that brings us right up to today,” he said.

After all these years at a la mode, DAve’s work on his current project, Titan Reports, has truly brought him excitement.

“So, the area I’m in now is all about workflow. We are right in the guts as far as what appraisers do. It’s real nitty-gritty detail stuff like keyboard shortcuts, keystrokes they’re used to, as well as the navigation and the workflow that our TOTAL customers are accustomed to. With where I’m at now on the Titan Reports team, it’s really about cutting time here, some more time there for the customer.

I think our customers are really going to be surprised and excited when they find out they’re no longer tied to a device. They’re not tied to a network. File syncing just works. I think they’re going to find that stuff more cool and useful, more life-changing and liberating than they know.”

Dave has learned a thing or two after his 27 years with a la mode. From navigating his way through the chaos of floppy disk shipping back in '91, to being one of the original masterminds of XSites, to being a huge part of getting our most life-changing product yet (Titan Reports) off the ground, Dave Affleck has been a huge part of our success here at a la mode. We’re thankful for his many years of hard work and dedication to our customers, the appraisal industry, and to a la mode.