James A. Perakis, chief executive of IMRS Inc., says there's only one measure of a good time in business. "It's no fun unless you're growing," says the CEO of the Stamford (Conn.) maker of financial-management software. And judging by IMRS' results--earnings jumped 58%, to $4.2 million, last year, while sales rose 34%, to $45 million--Perakis is having plenty of fun.
Founded in 1981 to develop and market powerful software that lets companies replace expensive mainframes with personal computers, IMRS is riding the wave of the PC revolution. A growing number of companies are trading in their outdated mainframes for less costly networks of small computers. IMRS--No.52 on BUSINESS WEEK's Hot Growth list--has just the programs to make the transition work. Its biggest seller, Micro Control, allows chief financial officers to call up status reports throughout their corporations within minutes, just as swiftly as they can on mainframes.
QUICK RESPONSE. Such complex programs don't come cheap. Packages start at upwards of $100,000, and prices can go as high as $1 million, depending partly on the size of the PC network. The price also includes technical consulting to help companies make the transition to PCs. Nowadays, IMRS' 1,000-plus customer base includes global giants such as PepsiCo and Sony. "They look to us for new technology," says Perakis, 49, who took ever as CEO in 1985 from IMRS founder and former CEO Robert W. Thomson, who retired. Perakis previously headed a software unit of Chase Manhattan Corp.
Of course, competitors are starting to line up. Comshare Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is marketing a product similar to Micro Control. "Their product is a little quicker, but we probably have a little more functionality, such as foreign currency translations," says Ted Dacko, a Comshare sales director.
Perakis hopes to maintain his company's growth with new software packages. To help, IMRS acquired technology from MAI Systems Corp. in February for $2.6 million. As a result of the purchase, IMRS posted a loss of $821,000 in the latest quarter ended in March, vs. a profit of $499,000 a year ago. But most analysts feel the company will regain its momentum. Analyst Peter Rogers of Robertson, Stephens & Co. expects that profits will rise 72%, to $7.6 million, in the fiscal year ending in June, 1994, as revenues climb 27%, to $76.5 million.
Perakis believes the hit was well worth it. By incorporating MAI's accounting technology, IMRS will eventually offer software able to monitor a company's every financial transaction. "We'll have a new set of products that will put us into an enormous growth market, probably for the next decade," Perakis says.
That's a prospect that delights Perakis. But he still hopes IMRS won't lose all its small-company ways. "To succeed in the software business, you have to remain fast-moving and responsive to the market," he says. It's an attitude that so far has served IMRS well.