Thank you, Kjell Inge!

After over 43 years in Maritech, Kjell Inge Farstad is now retiring. – It has been challenging and exciting, and I feel I have contributed a lot, says Kjell Inge. 

Kjell Inge Farstad started in Averøy Dataservice (which we now know as Maritech) in 1978. May 31st is his last day with us, after more than four decades of hard work, milestones and close cooperation with our customers and good colleagues.

40 MB = large datacenter

“I remember well when we got the first PCs with two diskette drives back in 1985. At this time, we did not understand what we could use these for,” says Kjell Inge.

“We had mini-computers with two disks, each of 40 MB. With the enormous capacity this represented, we were referred to as the largest data center between Bergen and Trondheim.”

“The interest in EDB (electronic data processing) started when I took a basic course in the subject when I served in the military in 1974. It was new and a hot topic, and based on this, I completed my EDB and economics education at Molde University College (formerly known as DH Molde) in 1977. At the same time, Averøy Dataservice was looking for programmers and I was hired.”

The first system they created was the so-called Sluttseddel for the Norwegian Raw Fish Association. A note was written for each delivery and a final note per week. The system was designed for office computers and magnetic credit cards. Floppy disk was at that time an unknown storage medium.

From lamps to Maritech Trading

The first system Kjell Inge developed was handling lots and rent settlement for fishing boats, a payroll solution. This was a collaboration with an accounting office at Sunnmøre. He had worked on fishing boats during the summers, and knew well how the remuneration of the fishermen worked. Both the Sluttseddel and the lot / rent settlement became important door openers for Maritech, leading to close cooperation with the fishing industry.

For the first 15 years at Maritech, he worked as a programmer. He then became customer manager and worked with the development and implementation of accounting, payroll, invoicing, closing notes, trading and lot and rent settlement. The technology was at a very early stage.

“In 1978, office computers did not have a monitor as we know it today. Instead, there were six lamps illuminated in different combinations that guided you in the program. For example, if lamps 1, 3 and 4 were lighted, you could enter voucher number, if it was 1, 3, 3, you could enter voucher date, etc. In 1978 we got a line display that could show 1 line of 32 characters. Then we entered a new world when it came to user interfaces.”

The first years, the software development was done in Oslo, resulting in a vast amount of trips back and forth to Averøy. In addition, there were many customer visits, and Kjell Inge says he has been traveling to most of the seafood companies between Kristiansand and Kirkenes.

From the 80s, he and the others in the company developed the first software; the MT programs. They were early in developing a program for the aquaculture industry called MT farming. Kjell Inge was in Iceland, Grindavik, among other places, and installed MT-Oppdrett at a land-based fish farm.

Land-based farm and Maritech Meat

In the 1980s, there was a great deal of activity in Maritech.

“We got an agency for Marel scales that were produced in Iceland. We also built our own land-based fish farm for salmon, turbot and halibut, and a research station with a laboratory and monitoring of fish. This is still in operation. We established an office in Washington and built a half-finished farm on land near Seattle. We even invested in software for the meat industry for a while,” says Kjell Inge.

In 1987, Maritech went bankrupt due to lack of financing. There were too many resource-intensive tasks and we had to start again.

“We contacted a key customer of ours, a factory trawler company in Sunnmøre, with a request to assist financially to buy the “data part” of the company. On July 3, 1987, Maritech Systems AS was founded with 13 employees.”

For the last 20-25 years, trading has been a core competence for Kjell Inge and Maritech. He has implemented Maritech Trading for almost all the major fish exporters in Norway, within salmon, whitefish, shellfish and pelagic. In total, approximately 500 Trading installations have been performed during this period.

“When we started trading, there was no good professional system for buying and selling fish. Many who used trading focused on inventory, calculation, gross margin and integration with the packaging system. In the development of trading, there was initially a lot of trial and error.”

Today, over 70 % of the Norwegian seafood goes through our systems – Maritech Trading and its successor, the world-leading cloud solution DGS Purchase & Sales.

Stories to remember

“I have also had many special assignments during my time at Maritech,” Kjell Inge smiles.

“The most special one must be when Kripos (The National Criminal Investigation Service) contacted me asking if I could assist in a case. I was asked if I could join an unannounced company visit to check some PCs. We were well staffed when we left, police, investigators and 2 bodyguards. I often think of this episode when we knocked on the door with a search warrant. There were discussions when one of the uniformed policemen could not document who he was, he had forgotten his ID card. He therefore had to wait outside, while I was allowed to enter without further questions.”

“Another event I remember well was a man that was to buy a new payroll system. He had accounts on the PC and a printer from before. I insisted that the new payroll system could be installed on the same PC as the accounts. This was irrelevant as he believed that the programs could mix together. 1 pc and 1 printer were therefore sold together with the payroll systems. The 2 PCs could not share printer either.”

Kjell Inge also got to take part in a construction project where family houses were to be built in Chile. AKVA Group, former owner of Maritech, had a branch office in Puerto Montt (as we now also have today) and they wanted to give something back to the locals. He describes this as an exciting trip and a rewarding experience.

Proud of what we have achieved

Above all, he has built software. “We have been innovative, laid stone upon stone and seen our customers succeed with the systems we have developed. We have become a globally leading software supplier to an industry that has been willing to invest and think outside the box. I am very proud of what we have achieved together.”

Kjell Inge is married to Janne and they have a total of 4 children and 6 grandchildren (soon 7) from 0 – 18 years. Now he looks forward to spending more time with his extended family, and many trips to the cabin at Oppdal.

“It’s time to log off and pass on the baton.”

He says he is grateful, and so are we! You have been outstanding, Kjell Inge. Enjoy your new, relaxed everyday life, we are certainly going to miss you.