Southern Hills entrepreneur covers the spectrum
Sales are worldwide, but mostly on the Internet
April 2, 2007
By John Andrew Prime
Jim Springer sits in the nerve center of his Shreveport home office.
Springer created and sells Scancat, computer software that programs
portable radio scanners. (Jim Hudelson/The Times)
"He was one of the first people to get into the computer control of radios, and he has become a big guy in that."
John Shidler, Scancat user and Shreveport private investigator
A southeast Shreveport businessman has a wide-ranging business you might pass on a daily basis and never notice.
Springer has run Computer Aided Technologies from his Southern Hills
home since the late 1980s. It's almost completely Internet based. The
only evidence of his passion and work is a room crammed with computers,
radios, scanners, scopes and test equipment, largely rigged together
with a nerve network of cables and wires.
"We write software," said Springer, 67, the father of two grown
children and the grandfather of four. "That's the principal source of
major product is Scancat, perhaps the standard for the computer
programming of base and portable radio scanners used by the public, law
professionals, the military and other government agencies. The
spreadsheet-style program turns the tedious chore of programming
scanners with frequencies, text identifiers and trunking codes needed
to make them work right.
"His motto for Scancat is 'Once you use
it you'll never use the keypad to program your radio again,' which is
really true," said John Shidler, owner of the Shreveport private
detective firm All the Facts Investigations.
"It's a very
esoteric market, small but worldwide, locally produced and sold all
over the world. He was one of the first people to get into the computer
control of radios and he has become a big guy in that."
Springer moved to Shreveport in 1967 and sold magazines, insurance and
electronics supplies before settling in for a 15-year stint at the
industrial supplier WW Grainger. While there, at the suggestion of a
friend, he developed his scanning program, with sales beginning in 1989.
four years ago, Radio Shack started using Scancat to program its
scanners, something Springer says has caused his business to grow.
70 percent of our sales are now from Radio Shack," he said. "We do six
figures. I won't say which side of the range we're on, though."
product is Copycat, a program targeted at ham and shortwave radio
operators and also caters to many military and professional clients.
don't have competition," Springer said of his programs, which he
constantly upgrades to keep up with changes in the radios. "It's a
He also is a national reseller of Hoka, a
software suite from the Netherlands that allows high frequency and VHF
radio digital signals analysis.
"We're a vendor and sell that
product to government people, people in agencies with three letters in
Maryland," he said. "Only 1 in 50 sales goes to a hobbyist."
next product, Springloader, is about as far from programming as you can
get, a plastic assembly that allows fast and easy reloading of clips
for semiautomatic pistols.
"It's for avid gun shooters, people
who go to the range, law enforcement," he said. "In fact, it's targeted
at a lot of the same people who might use Scancat."
The work doesn't faze Alicia, his patient wife of close to 40 years.
"Huh," she said with a smile as he showed off his new creation. "I just ignore him."
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April 2, 2007