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A computer lets you make more mistakes faster

than any invention in human history.

- Mitch Ratcliffe



Chapter 12:

Keeping Up With Technology

I was slow to adopt new technology in the office. A salesman came in one day to try to sell me a fax machine. I told him, "Why on earth would I need that? None of my customers have one. If I need to talk to them, I will phone them." Well, he told me that he guaranteed that I would own one before the year was over. I told him I thought not and he left. About a month later, a customer called and said he had misplaced his statement and would I mind faxing him a copy. Needless to say, I had a fax machine the next day. The first copier I bought is probably in a museum somewhere. If the staff today could see it, they would laugh themselves silly. It was old and used when I bought It and sometimes worked poorly.

Sometime in the late '90s, I got a frantic call from a customer telling me my sprayer was there flying around the field and the foam marker wasn't working. I explained to him that the sprayer was equipped with a new thing called a GPS. As we know today, GPS also steers the sprayers.


Our son Ron has a technical and analytical mind. He graduated from Grade 12 with honours at 16 then went to NAIT and graduated with honours in computer science. His first job was with the City of St. Albert as a system analyst. SVF was doing all our own bookkeeping and calculating blends manually, so Ron started from scratch to develop a software program to run SVF.


My main concern was that I wanted a statement that would look like the old one, which described every transaction, not just references to invoice numbers. Many customers liked our statements because they could understand them. After about two years in the development stage, we started to use Tronia Systems. One day, while on winter holidays in the U.S., we got a call from Ron. He told us he was considering quitting his job and taking his software program on the road to try to sell it to other fertilizer dealers in Western Canada. His mom was on one phone and I was on the other. 


Pat was concerned about him leaving such a good job. He was working a 37-hour week, single, driving a new 1986 red Porsche and living at home. Life couldn't get better. My suggestion was, "If you want to build a business of your own, now is your chance. If it doesn't work out, you can always get a job in the computer world." So that's what he did. He hired a friend, Steve Tocheniuk, to help with demos and sales, then hired his old boss from the City, Simon, to continue developing the system.


Pat's Mother's

  • If there is enough blue sky in the morning to make a sailor a pair of pants, it's going to be a nice day.

  • There is many a slip between the cup and the lip.

  • Well, he is from a good family. (this belief allowed her to overlook my flaws when I was dating Pat.)

SVF History 044.jpg
SVF History 044.jpg

Ron made many trips all over Western Canada, demonstrating his system. It was tough going at the start. Many just said, "Thanks, we'll think about it." But not all. Some could see the value, and his customer base started to grow. Now most independent fertilizer and chemical dealers in Western Canada use Tronia Systems. The rest just wish they did. Tronia Systems has 12 full-time staff and just recently built its own beautiful office building in St. Albert. I am proud of how hard Ron and his supportive wife, Donna, have worked to build their business from scratch. They also gave us a beautiful granddaughter, Kelsey, and twin grandsons, Ryan and Matthew (future Edmonton Oilers-Lord knows, they could use some help).

CH 1: In the Beginning
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