A Digital Partnership that Spans Three Decades

By Mark Johnston, Aquarius Director

This year Aquarius IT is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but the company’s co-founders Guy Reynolds and Dave Bailey, go back even further and have enjoyed a working partnership that spans three decades.  Today, on the 20th of April, to mark the official date they met in 1994, we are sharing their digital journey.

Guy and Dave first met when they worked at an international dairy company in Birmingham back in the early 1990s.  Guy was employed as the company’s Network Manager, and Dave, just 20 years of age at the time, had joined as a trainee accountant. Soon after joining the company, Dave realised that accountancy wasn’t for him, and with Guy’s support, he was able to transfer over to the network team (IT department). Together they also worked with Georgina Allsop who the Depot’s Accounting system, and who since 2010 has worked at Aquarius in the finance department.

Throughout their time at the firm, the parent company acquired many smaller dairies as part of its growth strategy back then, and it was Guy and Dave’s role in IT to help onboard the newly acquired staff, as the ethos said Guy, was very much focussed on ‘embracing people’ – a principle Guy and Dave later embedded into Aquarius’s core values, and which remains today.

Fast forward a couple of years, and the parent company sold its UK operation, and while Guy and Dave remained employed, the people-focused ethos sadly changed.  Dave had now been working with Guy for a while, and Guy said it was obvious for all to see that Dave had an amazing talent for IT and software development. As such, they started a small ‘hobby’ company alongside their jobs at the dairy company – and then one day, Guy got a call out of the blue from an old colleague who was working at the MG Rover Group. At this point in their careers, this call marked a significant turning point for Guy and Dave.

MG Rover, which had just been sold by BMW, needed a new sales, planning, and forecasting IT system to be created from scratch – Guy and Dave got the job, and given the enormity of the project, they left the dairy company to take on the task full-time. The software system, written by Guy and Dave proved so successful, that it was adapted for Jaguar Land Rover and was used in 143 countries worldwide. Such was its impact globally, Jaguar Land Rover  brought the software outright from Guy and Dave.

In 2004, Dave and Guy then formed Aquarius IT, and a year later the stars aligned again. Guy went to the 2005 CV Show and by chance met with a tachograph analysis company that was looking for a software partner in preparation for the imminent introduction of digital tachographs.  At exactly the same time, MG Rover went into administration, which wasn’t good but it opened up the opportunity for Guy and Dave to forge ahead and develop an analogue and digital tachograph analysis system.  

In IT terms, the skills and experience they had gained in writing and developing software for MG Rover and Jaguar Land Rover, seamlessly transferred into writing technical and mathematical calculations for Drivers Hour’s Law. 

As a result,  and in readiness for the introduction of digital tachographs in May 2006, Aquarius launched the road transport industry’s first integrated analogue and digital tachograph analysis software, called ClockWatcher. For the first time, this software enabled road transport customers to easily self-analyse and manage their own driver and vehicle data.

And, the rest as they say is history.

Today, Aquarius, with its roots still firmly focussed on ‘embracing people’ has grown into a million-pound software development company. Of significance, while the company has constantly evolved its software solutions over the last two decades in line with developments in technology and their customer needs, the underlying core technical functionality of the original ClockWatcher tachograph analysis system remains the same, which is a testament to the system’s original design by Guy and Dave back in 2005/06. 

Three decades on since first working together at the dairy company, you could say it has taken a ‘lotta bottle’ for Guy and Dave to get where they are today; they have taken risks, and faced twists and turns at every corner. But, there have been opportunities too where  “the stars have aligned”, they say.  Fundamentally, it’s also been about partnership and talent. As the co-founders Guy and Dave have worked hard every step of the way, and used their complementary skill sets, to not only build a successful company that they are rightly very proud of, but to also create real-life digital solutions that every day, help make people’s compliance-related jobs easier to manage.

About Mark Johnston

In 2015 Guy and Dave became ‘three’ when they appointed a third Director – Mark Johnston – to work alongside them and drive the future focus of the company.

Guy said: “As the founding directors, it was a huge leap for us, especially after two decades of being just the two of us making company decisions, to bring in a third director, but we both had every confidence in Mark, who we have worked with for several years. He gets our ethos, and since becoming a director eight years ago, he has been instrumental in driving the company forward with new products and innovations – Mark is the next generation, and we know when it comes time for one or both of us to hand over the reins, Aquarius will be safe in his hands.”

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