Pat Sanders, founder and president of HYPACK, Inc., started the company with the purpose of providing hydrographic consulting for companies who were awarded large area hydrographic survey contracts by government agencies. After leaving a position at the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office in Mississippi and completing a two-year graduate business program at Carnegie-Melon University in Pennsylvania, Sanders founded HYPACK, Inc. in Middlefield, Connecticut.
Sanders' first computer was a Columbia Data Systems machine with 640 kilobytes of RAM, a 10 megabyte hard drive, and a yellow monochrome monitor, which he used to write programs for processing manually collected hydrographic data. By 1987, he and his colleagues had established an entire suite of software. At the time, most hydrographic survey systems required expensive hardware, so Sanders decided to assemble his own group of programs, termed a hydrographic package. Thus, HYPACK® was offered for sale to the surveying world.
HYPACK®'s debut came at the Oceans 87 IEEE/OES and Marine Technology Society conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, CoastalO's booth was located directly across from that of Comstar, an industry leader at the time, and attendees only showed minor interest in the package. A year later, in 1988, HYPACK, Inc. sold its first HYPACK® suite to Ocean Surveys of Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Two more packages were sold that year. Then, in 1989, sales rose to 14 program suites. Sales have since continued to grow, to the point where CoastalO sold a HYPACK® every other business day in 1996. The fledgling business had gone from a one-person operation to a 15-employee business in a matter of a few years.
Sanders maintains that the key to his firm's success was the decision to support the PC platform as the data collection and processing platform. The improving price and efficiency of personal computers quickly made them preferential to the older survey systems, and interface cards permitted surveyors to use a wide variety of equipment. In 1992, HYPACK, Inc. created the first Windows®-based hydrographic survey package. Even while others believed Windows® would not allow for accurate time-tagging of survey data, Coastal was proving them wrong. HYPACK® for Windows® quickly gained industry approval for its flexibility and easy user interface. CoastalO then went on to write versions of HYPACK® for Windows 95 and Windows® NT.
Another facet to the company's success was its customer service. While other software providers were reluctant to make changes to programs and deal with problems, CoastalO employees, many of whom had worked in the field, made helping customers a top priority. In this vein, Coastal was among the first software manufacturers in the industry to provide a computer bulletin board service. Users can now upload problem files and download solutions in the same day, as well as view the web site for product updates and technical notes. In 1993, CoastalO also began the practice of holding "users' conferences," which gave employers a low-cost opportunity to train employees, and allowed Coastal to get feedback on what users thought of the product. The first conference, held in Atlantic Beach, Florida, brought in 97 attendees. The number has since grown to more than 360 surveyors and more than 40 hydrographic survey companies at a recent conference.
In 2004, Coastal Oceanographics changed its name to HYPACK, Inc. and moved to its current location--a 10,000 square foot office in Middletown Connecticut. Improvement on the HYPACK® package continues, and new products for the dredging industry (DREDGEPACKTM), ADCP, and LIDAR have been added to the roster. As sales continue to be strong, and the company continues to improve its products, HYPACK, Inc. appears to be in a good position for the future.