Husband/Wife Team Lead Software Solutions Company
Working together for the first time has brought about a whole new dynamic in the lives of Burton and Jennifer Toole, owners of Amovius LLC, a software solutions company in Melbourne. “You really don’t ever take a break from it,” Jennifer said. “One minute, we’re talking about the kids, the next minute we’re talking about, ‘Did you sign that contract today?’ It’s kind of a constant thing.”
It’s also become something great. Because as the business has grown over the nearly two years it has been in existence, so has the Tooles’ relationship … to the point where they say it’s the best it’s ever been. Great business; great relationship – it doesn’t get any better than that for a husband and wife.
From Assistance to Partnership
“I think at first when [Jennifer] came into the business, she was here to help out,” Burton said. “Now, as it’s evolved, we’re real partners. I go to her for advice. I know where I’m weak now. I think that’s why our relationship is so good, and I know why we’re together. I’m great at some things and not at others – and she’s great at those things.”
The Tooles came to Brevard County from Atlanta, where Burton had owned a software consulting firm. They chose the area, in large part, because there are so many engineers here and because they loved the feeling of the community, believing it was a great place to raise their children.
They had one client on a six-month contract, and a three-year lease. Burton spent much of his time flying from place to place trying to drum up new sales, while Jennifer stayed home with the kids. “I was on an airplane every week. I came home (one day) and [Jennifer] was like, ‘You look horrible. You look worn out. … Is there anything I can do?’” Burton recalled. “I looked at her and said, ‘Are you serious? Why don’t you come with me into the office in the morning?’ That’s how that started.”
Blending Skill Sets
Jennifer had a background in finance, and had worked in real estate however she had never worked in a technology business. Initially, she tried to fill in the gaps, helping out with recruiting and even human resources. Because their roles weren’t clearly defined yet, there was a little “stepping on toes” that has since been ironed out as the business has grown. Over the course of their first six months, one client grew to twelve. Six months later, there were 28 clients. While initially catering to small businesses, Amovius can now claim a client list that includes companies like Philips and HP. They recently signed a deal with NASCAR to upgrade their source control system to Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server.
“Not that we’re going away from the small businesses, but we have the ability now to go after the large businesses and take on larger projects,” Burton said.
Setting Their Sights
Amovius has 35 employees, with a goal of reaching 300. Jennifer now serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Relations. Now that they have an actual sales team, Burton can concentrate more on what he does best.
“Burton has a truly unique gift of being such a visionary, being able to see and project where we’re going,” Jennifer said. “He can pick up on things and give direction faster and better than anybody I’ve ever met. He works on strategy and keeping us going in the right direction. I try to work more on the tactical type of stuff, from day-to-day (operations) to bringing in clients and business development.”
While their roles are more clearly defined now, the lanes they’re both running in do intersect from time to time. Though they’ve learned that compromise is the key, they’ve also been able to find the right balance between work and home life.
“She’s my business partner here and my wife at home,” Burton said. “I don’t want to say we’ve perfected it, but it’s gotten really good. Honestly, I think the dynamic of making sure that works makes work better because our relationship – we’ve been together 12 years – is the best it’s ever been.”