Home | Back | Up | Next

COE Ten Years After

Dave Brock

In October, I was privileged to be invited to share the 10th year anniversary of the founding of COE. I joined a tremendous meeting in Dallas and renewed acquaintances with old friends and customers and made many new friends. A few days after the meeting, Bill Abramson called to ask me to write an article about my memories of COE. After protesting to Bill, citing my memory lapses and time, I agreed to share a few perspectives.

Let me start with my first involvement with Dassault and CATIA®. About 13 years ago, as an IBM sales manager, I was called into my manager’s office and asked to take responsibility for the sales of a product named "CATIA." I blindly accepted, ran to my office and tried to find out what CATIA was. In those days at IBM, we had a czar of acronyms. He at least helped me understand that it was a sophisticated 3-D computer aided design product. Now my search was narrowed. Then I started to read about such esoteric topics as: surfaces, wire frames, solids, kinematics, NURBS. I realized I had much to learn in order to be successful.

After a while I learned that CATIA was a recently announced product from this small subsidiary of Avions Marcel Dassault in Paris. In the United States at that time, there were about 5 customers of CATIA. Between the customers, there were fewer than 100 seats. In accepting the sales assignment, I was asked to quadruple the installed users over the next year.

With further research, I learned that Dassault Systemes was a small organization, about 25 people, led by Francis Bernard. I called to introduce myself and ask for help. This started a long and close relationship. In the subsequent months, Dassault sent Robert DeMonts and Antoine Raymond over to work with the IBM team. At IBM, we expanded our sales and support organization and started developing closer relationships with our customers. John Spivack, Ach von der Nuell and Dick Smith provided wonderful technical support. Jerry Buck helped in developing sales strategies; Gerry Murtaugh worked with Dassault in expanding the product line. Bob Tiel continually gave us ideas, encouragement, and great leadership.

Francis made several trips to the US to help us further. Francis and I would barnstorm the country, seeing customers and potential customers. We would end up Friday nights at my house and decompress over the weekend. We started to have some modest success. We achieved that first year sales goal. We started to grow the user base. Joan Hoeberichts started Dassault USA to provide training and support.

As we expanded the user base, we started to have some new concerns. One was how do we maintain contact with the growing base of customers. Another was how do we enable these people to share their experience with each other and us. We were looking to improve the product and its visibility in the market. At the time we were overshadowed by Computervision, Intergraph, Applicon, Calma, and Unigraphics. We wanted to grow, but needed to understand what our users wanted.

Several different threads started to come together at one time. My manager, Bob Tiel told me how valuable CUE had been in expanding CADAM’s user base. He suggested we consider a CATIA User Group. Being a creative, resourceful and imaginative sales manager, I immediately leaped to a conclusion--let’s start CUG. UGGH!

At about the same time, the jungle drums were beating. Joan called to discuss establishing a user group. Bill Abramson, Joe Red, Bob Tolleson, John Galizan and others started sharing their experiences at CUE and suggested we do the same. Clearly, great minds think alike!!

A small number of us agreed that we needed to get together and start a group. But how and where? CUE was having a meeting in Atlanta. We realized that a large number of the CUE members were also CATIA users. We called to arrange a small meeting room and started contacting as many users as possible.

I have forgotten how many people attended the first meeting. I think it was about 30. At the time, we had such a small number of attendees, we could not have breakout sessions. We had one meeting in which a variety of people were gracious enough to present what they were doing with CATIA. We talked about how we could formalize a users group. Francis and I were concerned. We wanted it to be a users group, not a vendor group. We were worried that we might be asked to run it. Fortunately, Bill, Joe, Bob, and John took the bull by the horns and established the first steering committee. Francis, Joan and I pledged our support, but wanted to remain in the background. We, also, started what has ended up as a tradition: As one of the last sessions in the meeting, Francis and I went to the front and tried to field as many questions about CATIA and its direction as possible.

After the initial meeting, I think I attended one or two other sessions. I recall the group grew. I remember at one meeting needing to contract 5 hotel conference rooms to accommodate the breakout sessions. We were hitting the big time!!

All that is distant history. Last June, after many years working in different industries and several relocations; my wife received a call at home. The voice at the other end of the line pleaded: "Please be patient with me, but is this the home of Dave Brock?" "Yes," my wife responded cautiously. "Is this the Dave Brock that used to work for IBM?" "Yes," my wife responded, now curious. "Is this the Dave Brock that used to be involved with Dassault Systems and CATIA?" When my wife responded positively, there was an explosion at the other end of the line. Bill Abramson said "You don’t understand what I’ve been going through!! I’ve been looking for Dave for six months! Please have him call me as soon as possible!"

In re-establishing contact with Bill, and subsequently other officers of COE, I was delighted to hear of the success and growth of COE. I was embarrassed about being given credit for starting the organization; after all, I just rented the room and paid for coffee, isn’t that what a salesman does? The real people who started COE were the small group of dedicated users who attended that first meeting in Atlanta! The real people were those initial officers who dedicated their own time to keep the group going.

I was thrilled to join the members of COE in Dallas. I was amazed to see the size of the group! I was delighted to see how much CATIA has developed over the years; surely this has been a result of the impact of COE on the Dassault development plan. I continue to be impressed by the dedication of the leadership organization. It is larger than before, I am not sure I really understand the structure. However, it has the same element of dedication that was part of the founding group.

Congratulations to all of the members of COE on a smashing 10th year anniversary! I look forward to seeing many of you at future meetings! I hope we have the opportunity to celebrate together the 20th year anniversary in 2004! Perhaps then we will assemble through putting on our virtual reality helmets, traveling through cyberspace and meeting in some plain with CATIA models surrounding us.

This article was written by Dave Brock of Partners In EXCELLENCE.

This article appeared in the Summer/Fall 1995 edition of CATIA User Update. It appears here with the permission of the CATIA Operators Exchange. CATIA is registered to Dassault Systemes.

Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.

Send mail to webmaster@excellenc.com with questions or comments about this web site. Copyright © 1997 Last modified: February 12, 2008

If you are interested in learning how to OutPerform and OutSell your competition, please contact us by phone or email:

Telephone: 949-305-7146
Address: 22715 Barlovento, Mission Viejo, CA  92692  USA
Electronic mail:
General Information: info@excellenc.com
Webmaster: webmaster@excellenc.com