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ExR History

1987-1990 1991-1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

In the early 1980s, Michael R. Rainer was an instructor in the English department at the University of Georgia. In 1980, he bought a computer from a mail-order house in California. Fascinated by the potential of this new technology, he started a business out of his home.

Rainer began using the machine as a tool in his new technical writing and editing business, Verbatim. He also consulted on computer technology. During the next several years, he met and began to work with geologists William Fay and Gene Hartley, who operated a two-man company called Exploration Software, developing software for the mining and environmental industries.

In 1987, the three created Exploration Resources with seven employees (including themselves). In 1989, the company became a private corporation.

In 1994, ExR spun off Industrial Minerals Consulting, Inc . Hartley left ExR to manage that business.

In 1997, ExR spun off Partner Software, and Fay left ExR to manage that business.

In 1999, Exploration Resources officially changed its name to ExR and adopted a new logo incorporating that name.

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1987 to 1990

ExR became a private company with seven employees, based in four offices of less than 1,000 square feet on Lumpkin Street in downtown Athens, primarily providing data management, technical writing, and software development for the mining and environmental industries.

To work with its larger clients, ExR needed a computer system more sophisticated than any existing in Athens. Because no local company could support the system ExR needed, the company hired a specialist to develop the network.

In 1989, ExR began to use its knowledge in the information technology (IT) area to work with clients who needed ExR's sophisticated understanding of networks and IT infrastructure.

ExR won a Department of Energy (DOE) $2.5 million contract (ending March 1993) to manage the groundwater monitoring environmental data at the Savannah River Nuclear Weapons Plant in Aiken, SC. For this contract to manage the data for the world's largest groundwater monitoring program, ExR provided verification and validation of data, technical writing, software development, and consulting.

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1991 to 1992

The company expanded its Lumpkin Street office space to 8,650 square feet, occupying the entire second floor and portions of the first.

ExR knew that the IT service offerings had tremendous growth potential. However, most computer companies were still selling computer boxes. Based on an understanding that the hardware would soon be dominated by mail order (Dell and Gateway were on the horizon), ExR focused on customers that would be actively seeking technical support and consulting to make the increasingly sophisticated systems function. Therefore, ExR's focus shifted to supplying services to clients whose computing applications were central to their operations.

In pursuit of this new clientele, ExR became a Novell Authorized Reseller, then a Novell Gold Authorized Reseller, and an SCO Authorized Reseller. ExR added an experienced consultant to expand the range of services it could supply.

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Outside of its work with DOE, ExR focused primarily on small businesses, lawyers, doctors, and accountants, providing them with small networks and computer support. For the company to grow, it had to move to serving the manufacturing market where the needs were greater and the systems more complex.

In that market, the UNIX operating system played a major role, and no company outside Atlanta served that market. ExR determined that connectivity services and UNIX support were critical to manufacturers. The company also predicted that the trend toward outsourcing the operation of the management information system functions in large companies would increase.

To seek this market, ExR began hiring and training people in the complexities of wide-area networks (WAN), as well as local area networks (LAN), including UNIX and AS/400. ExR began offering local mission critical support, providing clients support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ExR became certified as a UNIX Master Reseller.

ExR purchased a small consulting and programming business.

ExR began supporting local public radio (WUGA). ExR is the longest continuous running supporter and one of the largest financial supporters of public radio in Athens.

ExR won a second DOE Contract, ending October 1996, for $9.5 million.

By the end of 1993, the company grew to more than 30 employees, a 460% increase since 1987.

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Rainer and Fay bought out their third partner, Hartley. That move allowed ExR to focus on environmental, IT, and communication services.

ExR became a Great Plains Dynamics Authorized Reseller and Gupta Development Partner. Employees received certifications: Citrix Certified, Certified Implementation Specialist for Great Plains Dynamics, Certified NetWare 4 Administrator, Certified NetWare Engineer, and Enterprise Certified NetWare Engineer.

ExR provided concrete rewards for staff excellence including a profit-sharing program, productivity bonuses, and a transfer of ExR's existing 401(k) to VALIC.

In pursuit of the company's goal of becoming a world-class software manufacturing and high-tech service business, ExR joined the Athens Area Technical Institute's Center for Continuous Improvement (CCI).

ExR moved to The Milledge Centre, expanding its office space by 20%. ExR occupied 10,500 square feet, over half of the first floor, of the two story brick building in a historic, professional area near the University of Georgia. The facilities included a private entrance, reception area, staff kitchen, separate server and technical support room, training room, and libraries.

ExR's client base increased by 115% in a single year.

The company grew to nearly 55 employees.

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A Programming Team was established to give ExR the ability to develop custom applications. ExR became an IBM/ Lotus Notes Partner, using Notes's workflow and email as the backbone of its internal communications, workflow, and project management processes. ExR added Visual Basic programmers to its staff of C and C++ programmers.

ExR expanded its certifications to become a Bay Networks Authorized Value-Added Reseller, Hewlett-Packard Authorized Value-Added Reseller, Lotus Business Partner, member of the IBM DB2 Developer Assistance Program, and a Watermark Gold Partner.

ExR developed three custom software applications: On Course and SafetyNet,
products that help companies comply with ISO 9000 certification requirements; and Financial Advantage, a savings and loan management system.

ExR increased its office space to encompass the entire first floor (17,000 square feet) of The Milledge Centre. The expansion added offices, another kitchen, and conference rooms.

ExR's client base increased by 28%.

The company grew to 68 employees.

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ExR became an Authorized Value-Added Reseller for IBM and for Hewlett-Packard HP 9000 (UNIX) Authorized Reseller.

ExR personnel received certifications as Certified Lotus Professional Notes Application Developer R3, Certified NetWare 4.1 Administrator, Certified NetWare Engineer 4, Microsoft Certified Professional Product Specialist, and Microsoft Certified Professional Solution Developer.

To improve communication with clients and potential clients, as well as with its employees in the field, ExR established its first website. This Internet access allowed ExR to offer its clients more sophisticated Lotus Notes applications and off-site security backup services for applications.

ExR expanded into software documentation, on-line documentation, CD-ROM
production, website design, and animated video production.

A customer service representative was added to improve customer support.

In cooperation with Athens Regional Medical Center, ExR developed DIAL 911, a vehicle and service delivery tracking system for emergency medical response units. This software product is also used at Memorial Hospital in Chatanooga, TN.

ExR developed an Internet-based JAVA software tool that puts digital maps on the Internet and allows visitors to browse the maps and access data that are linked to objects (such as cities, buildings, and roads) displayed on the maps. Using this tool, ExR developed three products for use on portable PCs: one to allow survey and installation field staff of regional Electric Membership Cooperatives to mark and track locations and all data necessary for installing poles and electrical lines; another to facilitate the management and maintenance of buildings and equipment; and a third to display and distribute tax parcel maps and related information. The software is easy to use, requires little technical expertise, and allows companies easily to access, distribute, and update information stored in their geographical information or CAD systems.

ExR created a separate team (that would become Partner Software) to develop and market this technology.

ExR established a branch office in Augusta, Georgia. On December 1, 1996, 12 staff members moved into the new location.

ExR won a third DOE contract, ending October 2002, for $40 million.

ExR's client base increased to 400 companies, individuals, and government agencies.

The company grew to 80 employees.

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In January 1997, ExR spun off Partner Software to develop and market the Internet Java software tools for electric utilities and other industries that ExR had created in 1996. Bill Fay left ExR to run this company. Twelve ExR employees transferred to the new company.

Michael Rainer became majority stockholder and CEO of ExR.

ExR was certified on January 1, 1997, as a Premium Partner in the Lotus Notes Business Partner Program. The announcement was made at Lotusphere, the national Lotus Notes convention. Premium Partners have demonstrated commitment to Lotus Notes and their mutual customers, competence with the technology, and contribution to the business.

In April, ExR was honored as the first-ever winner of the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce (AACC) Industry of the Year Award for service industry. The award recognizes outstanding businesses that create jobs and provide community service.

Also in April, the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) announced that ExR was the winner of the State Existing Industry Appreciation Award for 1997. ExR also received the Region 4 award.

In May, ExR announced the addition of Horace Bledsoe as project manager for the Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC) contract. Under the contract, ExR provides environmental data management, custom programming, report generation, and other technical support services for the largest groundwater monitoring program in the world at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC.

ExR celebrated its 10th year.

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ExR expanded its services by becoming a BellSouth Authorized Agent, an Accpac Accounting Business Partner, an IBM Solution Provider, and an HP Small Business Solutions Expert.

ExR created a strategic partnership with Mauldin and Jenkins, a GA CPA firm, based in Macon, Atlanta, and Albany. ExR provides IT support and consulting to M&J and its clients. M&J, in turn, provides accounting support to ExR's clients.

In conjunction with M&J, ExR developed the components of a CPA practice management application for Lotus Notes/Domino.

Rainer joined the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and became an AME Champion.

ExR sponsored the Athens Run/Walk for Home for the 5th consecutive year.

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ExR continued to expand its Lotus Notes/Domino expertise. ExR programmers became CLP Domino R5 Application Developers and CLP Domino R5 Principal Application Developers.

ExR technicians became Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE), with an emphasis on NT and MS SQL. Another technician became a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). This certification is one of three along a difficult path to achieve certification of Cisco Certified Internetwork Engineer (CCIE).

ExR joined APICS, the educational society for resource management and an
internationally recognized organization that offers educational programs and services on business disciplines as they pertain to manufacturing management.

In 1999, Exploration Resources officially changed its name to ExR and adopted a new logo incorporating that name.

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