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Wang was a well-known calculator and word-processing company. When calculators became unprofitable, Wang began manufacturing mini and mid-frame computers with the intention of overtaking market-leader IBM.
Wang computers became extremely popular amongst auto dealers. At one point, more than two-thirds of the nation’s dealerships ran their business using a Wang computer system.
Back then, computer manufacturers typically outsourced their software development. The work often went to college professors with a background in mathematics. Such was the case with Steve Fullum, a college professor who was contacted by Wang and asked to create a software program to help dealers calculate payments and do their accounting. The program Fullum developed was called Auto/Mate, the first F&I system for dealers. Wang dominated the DMS market for several years with this product.
Ultimately Wang’s quest for computer hardware market dominance failed against the backdrop of booming desktop and enhanced microcomputer sales. The company declared bankruptcy in 1992.
Fullum, who had been working as an MIS consultant, acquired the rights to Auto/Mate, and began marketing and selling the system to dealerships in the northeast. When the business started to grow, Fullum’s two brothers joined the company. One was an investment banker and the other was a service technician for a technology company. With the additional help, Fullum was able to continue development work on Auto/Mate.
By the mid-1990’s, the company had grown to over 10 employees, with Fullum selling one Auto/Mate dealer management system every couple of months.
Fullum passed away unexpectedly in 1999, and Mike Esposito, an Auto/Mate sales representative, was brought in as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Esposito not only had a technology background, he’d spent five years as general manager of DePaula Chevrolet in Albany.
Esposito continued to expand the business and significantly increased sales. Dozens of new employees were hired. In 2005, the company was sold to a private investor, at which point Esposito became the President and CEO.
Today, Auto/Mate has more than 200 employees and a customer base of over 1,500 dealerships nationwide. Many Auto/Mate clients have been using the system since it was first marketed and sold by Wang.