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What began in the late '70s as a father's basement hobby in central Illinois is now in its 30th year a successful, mid-sized developer and vendor of dealership management systems.

Charter Software marks 30th year with expansion

What began in the late ‘70s as a father’s basement hobby in central Illinois is now in its 30th year a successful, mid-sized developer and vendor of dealership management systems.


In 1984, Gerry Fricke, who had been tinkering with software development as a hobby, customized his DOS-based accounting software, PC-General Ledger to meet the specific needs of equipment dealers.


In 1996, when Fricke’s daughter, Anne Salemo, acquired the company, she set forth to realize her vision to migrate from a DOS-based system for equipment dealers to a full-blown Windows-based business system for equipment dealerships. The result was the launch of DealerWin, Charter’s first Windows product.


In 2009, the Littleton, Colo.-based company introduced ASPEN, a SQL-based program to meet the changing needs of dealers impacted by the trend toward multiple locations, advancements in software technology, and more sophisticated manufacturer requirements. ASPEN now has more than 3,000 users and continues to evolve to accommodate growth and changes in the industry.


In the summer of 2014, Charter’s 30th year, the company expanded its corporate headquarters and manpower to increase its ability to service the steadily growing number of dealerships using ASPEN. With a 1,200-foot addition in office space, Charter now occupies a suite of approximately 6,000 square feet. The Charter team is comprised of approximately 30 individuals, including the recent additions of a new director of IT and development, customer support manager, business development administrator, and director of sales/marketing.


Under the guidance of Rick Retherford, Charter’s new director of IT and development, the company will continue to explore and implement enhancements to the performance and productivity of its ASPEN software. “I see great potential in the ASPEN product, and I’m excited to take on this role of bringing Charter’s products to the next level,” said Retherford.


President Anne Salemo attributes the company’s success largely to the strong relationships with its customers. “Meeting their needs is what keeps us going,” she said. “As we continue to expand our services to grow along with the industry, we’ll always work to improve our processes and strengthen the relationships we’ve built with our customers over the years. That will always define us no matter how large we grow.”


For more details and photos about Charter Software’s history, go to chartersoftware.com and read the feature story titled “Charter Commemorates Moving Dealers Forward for 30 Years!”

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