Transfinder CEO Reflects on 30 Years of Business, Innovations

Nicole Schlosser
Posted on March 20, 2018
Tony Civitella, CEO of routing software developer Transfinder, started with the company as a college intern in 1989. He is seen here speaking at the company’s annual meeting at the start of this year.
Tony Civitella, CEO of routing software developer Transfinder, started with the company as a college intern in 1989. He is seen here speaking at the company’s annual meeting at the start of this year.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — School bus routing software developer Transfinder Corp. is marking its 30th year in business, celebrating its staff members’ dedication and continuing to keep pace with ever-changing technology and its clients’ needs.

Transfinder President and CEO Antonio Civitella started with the company, then known as Forth & Associates, as a college intern in 1989 and was impressed by its mentorship opportunities. The founder of the company, Jim Forth, was a retired General Electric (GE) executive, and there were several retired GE executives in the building.

By the early 1990s, Civitella was buying into the company a few shares at a time, and by 2000, he had managed to purchase the company in its entirety. Forth & Associates only had one product: routing software called Transfinder Pro. Civitella had visions of developing more products and solutions, and he felt that if he was putting in so many hours, he should work for himself.

“I never signed up for a 9-to-5 job,” Civitella said in an interview with SBF.

Because he wanted to add products, avoid confusion, and provide consistency in naming, he decided that future products would end in “-finder” (such as Infofinder, Servicefinder, and Viewfinder).

Over the years, Transfinder has adapted its products to meet clients’ needs by evolving its technology, focusing on offering products that work across multiple platforms. With access to so much personal technology, such as smartphones and tablets, clients expect to have access to those same tools in the workplace.

“[Customers] are more tech-savvy now,” Civitella said. “They have more technology at home, and want to experience that technology in their office, too. In the early days, their offices had computers, but they didn’t have them at home.”

Consumers have also become more sophisticated in their interactions with technology, so focusing on how the software looks and feels is especially important, he added.

Today, the 108 employees who work at Transfinder thrive in an environment that enables them to explore various new technological developments and apply them to their work.

For example, Civitella recently started Idea Finder, an exercise in which every employee can present for five to 10 minutes on a product or technology they like — as long as it is not a Transfinder product.

Many ideas that came out of the exercise have made their way into products such as the Routefinder Go app, which supplies data on students, vehicles, schools, staff, and trips and stops.

Employees also appreciate Transfinder because of the company’s work in helping students secure safe transportation to and from school.

Liz Chauhan, a software project manager for the company, said that she is proud to work at Transfinder, and that through her experience at the company, “I know that every district using our products shares the goals of getting all of our children to school safely and efficiently. I have the unique role of seeing our products from concept to installation, and I know that every team member here, throughout that process, wants to help our clients achieve their goal.”

Civitella added that Transfinder has been successful for 30 years because of employees and colleagues who are dedicated on a daily basis.

“People are here not because it is an easy job; it’s very challenging, because technology is ever-changing,” he said. "But they believe in the mission."

The Schenectady-based company has expanded in recent years, opening offices in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China, in 2015.

Looking back 30 years, Civitella is also grateful for the internship opportunity that Forth gave him.

“He changed my trajectory. He changed my family.”

Looking ahead, Transfinder will eventually transition products to wearables. “A Glimpse Into the Future,” a presentation at Transfinder’s Annual Client Summit in Albany, New York, from April 17 to 19, will review how Alexa, Apple Watch, and drones can be used in school transportation.

Related Topics: routing, software systems

Nicole Schlosser Executive Editor
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