Hidden in the center of downtown Colville and overlooking Heritage Court on Main Street, three brothersâ€”Tyler, Caleb, and Elliott Edwardsâ€”founded a computer consulting business, Hachisoft, in 2001 that works with national as well as international corporations.
Not many local residents know about Hachisoft, since the Edwards brothers advertise their business online, targeting energy corporations in need of engineering software.
But the story doesn't start in the cozy office above Heritage Court; the story began while the brothers were still in elementary school at Curlew and living in Orient.
â€śI was in fourth grade,â€ť recalled Elliot Edwards, 34. â€śOur parents had bought a PC computer. And they justâ€¦threw itâ€¦to us.â€ť
To say the boys gravitated to the new technology is an understatement. The youngsters were naturals.
The Edwards brothers treated the computer like a toy, playing with it in their spare time. The computer had come with a programming manual that they used to learn the programming language so they could write computer games.
Each computer program has a language that programmers can â€śspeakâ€ť to create functions and operations for that specific program. According to the Business Dictionary, a programming language is â€ścoded language used by programmers to write instructions that a computer can understand to do what the programmer (or the computer user) wants.â€ť
What it means
While still in their childhood, the Edwards brothers learned their first computer language called GW basic. Since they only had one computer, they learned the concept of sharing and collaborating at an early age, either setting up times to use the computer or designing their computer games in a group.
â€śWe learned to sit together. Someone would be typing and we would be talking about it, thinking about how to do the code. Nowadays, they call it 'peer programming'.
â€śWe were doing that before it was ever a trendy business [concept],â€ť explained Elliott Edwards.
The principle of working on projects together would prove to be an important skill for their future computer consulting business. And even as children, the trio dreamed of one day opening their own business.
â€śOriginally, we kind of always wanted to run a businessâ€”not necessarily software,â€ť Caleb, 32, explained. â€śMy grandfather was a beekeeper, and we would work summers at his place so we kind of wanted to do that.â€ť
It was during that time that the name Hachisoft was created. The Edwards brothers thought Hachisoft was a purely made-up word, but they found out that it is a real word in Japanese.
According to Elliott Edwards, Hachisoft can either mean â€śbeeâ€ť or â€śboldâ€ť in Japanese, depending on how it is pronounced. It seemed that they had unknowingly chosen a name that, ironically enough, was tied to their summers on grandfatherâ€™s farm.
When Tyler Edwards, 35, graduated from high school at Curlew, he went to Whitworth College (now Whitworth University) in Spokane and majored in computer science. He would come home with his new computer knowledge and share it with his brothers, who were eager to listen.
â€śWhen Tyler got into the software engineering program at Whitworth, he would bring stuff back to us and we would just eat it up,â€ť Caleb Edwards related.
Eventually, all three would graduate from Whitworth with degrees related to computers.
Hachisoft got off the ground after Elliott Edwards graduated from Whitworth. He began to network and work full time as a computer consultant. Soon, others in the family joined him and Hachisoft was born, making their childhood dream a reality.
â€śI was the first employee [of Hachisoft]. I started working full time on consulting, got some connections with various clients, and then we started working as a partnership. We got a full corporation status in 2001. Eventually, we had everybody onboard,â€ť explained Elliott Edwards.
Most of the time, they work on projects from a distance. Since cyber communication has become more advanced, the Edwards brothers realized that they could do a lot of their consulting business online. This long distance communication has made it possible for them to work in Colville while working on contracts with national as well as international corporations.
â€śWe work with people back east, some international companiesâ€”a French corporation,â€ť stated Elliott Edwards. â€śIt [our work] could be [described] like firefighters. They have you come and work as a team, interacting with the team, and making business software for their corporation. [They] use that software to save money, save time, or resell it to other corporations. It [our work] depends on the certain scenarios. But it tends to be engineering software.â€ť
Since that first computer software language learned in grade school, the Edwards brothers have expanded their computer languages and types of focus. They are fluent in c, c++, VC++, ObjC, and many versions of Visual Basic. Even though they all know how to program computers, they each have complimentary skills that benefit the Hachisoft team.
Tyler Edwards serves as the CEO or manager of Hachisoft; Elliott Edwards enjoys building systems and acts as the architect behind the scenes, and Caleb Edwards has a particular talent for graphic design.
â€śWe wear different hats. Each of us will have a different kind of focus and the tools and technologies that we use fit that interest,â€ť explained Elliott Edwards.
What they learned from that first computer as far as peer programming and family collaboration has certainly stood them in good stead. But they are not only a computer- minded family, they also value the outdoors and their community.
Tyler, Elliot, and Caleb Edwards all grew up playing basketball, baseball, and football. And this emphasis on sports has carried into their adulthood. Tyler Edwards coaches the girlsâ€™ basketball team at Kettle Falls High, and Caleb Edwards has coached baseball at Kettle Falls. Caleb has even designed an app that keeps track of his playersâ€™ pitches, which he sells on the Hachisoft website at www.hachisoft.com.
Software, sports, and community
Almost all of the siblingsâ€”except for Kari and Mattâ€”have returned to Colville to live. Their reasons for returning may not be the same, but their unique desire to return is the same. They are among a minority of adults from ages 18 to 30 that have returned to the area.
â€śIt is taking the long view of what you want out of life,â€ť explained Elliott Edwards. â€śThe best and the brightest students in terms of high school, go off to college, they have to get a job, etc. etc. etc. And so for a long timeâ€”between the age of 18 and 30â€”there is not a whole lot of people back here.
â€śIt would be nice if we could do a better job at that. It would be nice if we had more companies who were willing to have that first entry level job back here.â€ť
Elliott Edwards hopes to promote the computer tech industry in Colville. He thinks that a rural area creates independent and problem-solving people, and rural people would be particularly adaptable to the computer programming business.
â€śI would love this community to be more of a tech center,â€ť Elliott said. â€śI was a teacher's assistant in college, and there were students who got it and students who didn't. It was funny that students who grew up on farms did really well and seemed to have a natural advantage. It doesn't make sense until you realize that if you grow up on a farm, you're problem solving all the timeâ€”fixing the fence, bailing hay.â€ť
â€śIt [computer programming] is problem solving, every single day, in everything we do,â€ť affirmed Caleb Edwards.
Even though the people of the community may be particularly adaptable to this type of work, according to Elliott, Hachisoft may be the first computer programming business in the area or at least the first team of computer programmers to open up shop here.
To learn more about Hachisoft, visit their website at www.hachisoft.com.