He started the original version of his business back in 1984, fresh out of college. One Internet, one dot-com boom, one Y2K and one dot-com crash later, he’s still in business.
Spilker is president of Network Engineering Inc., which is essentially a spin-off of his original company, Information Engineering Inc.
A lifelong Indianapolis resident, he graduated from Purdue University with a degree in computer technology. As soon as he graduated, he started Information Engineering because he wanted to run things himself.
“I figured that if I had to deal with someone’s mistakes, they might as well be my own,” he said.
Information Engineering started out as a software-development company and technology provider. The biggest challenge initially was trying to determine the best market niche for the company, which first got a foothold with manufacturing firms.
But Spilker was always interested in diversifying. As computers became increasingly integrated into the business world, Spilker began moving into new areas and over the years decreased the emphasis on software development. As part of this trend, he formed Network Engineering in 1987, though he traces both companies back to 1984.
Keeping up with technology was always a challenge. Spilker had to scramble in the 1990s as the Internet and dot-com boom took off. A number of times, he had to borrow equipment or computer time from other companies to keep from being swamped, he said.
Still, the emphasis on diversifying served Network Engineering well when the dotcom boom went bust. While so many other companies went under, Network Engineering was able to keep its head above water, Spilker said.
Diversification is helping Network Engineering now as well. The company is concentrating more on acquiring life sciences and medical customers, because given the hammering Indiana’s manufacturing economy has been taking lately, the long-term growth possibilities in that area may be limited.
Network Engineering now focuses on three areas of service. The first is helping companies consolidate their information systems. Spilker’s company can install new software that will allow one server to do the same amount of work that originally took four servers. This can save a customer a lot of money and is one of Network Engineering’s selling points, Spilker said. That kind of efficiency gets people talking, he said.
The second area is the indexing and storage of records. Network Engineering can provide systems for effectively managing data, whether in paper files or in electronic form.
“We can take chaos and turn it into organized chaos,” he said.
The third area is monitoring information systems for their owners. Network Engineering can keep an on-site “eye,” so to speak, on a customer’s network via various programs and equipment. This serves as an early-warning system for glitches that might be developing.
“The idea is to beat the little problems before they become big problems,” Spilker said.
The potential customer demand for this three-pronged initiative seems to be tremendous, and the concept itself has great potential for further development, Spilker said.
Network Engineering has some significant customers in the area. The company helped Clarian Health Partners develop an integrated computer network that combines and tracks all the records of each individual patient.
Clarian has been happy to use them for other projects as well.
“They’ve always been available and they’ve always been responsive,” said Jeffery L. Haviza, manager of laboratory information services at Clarian.
The area’s recent economic growth will continue to provide opportunities for Network Engineering. Technical advances also are continuing, with tools and technology that are much more powerful now, Spilker said.
Still, there are challenges. Besides the various threats to Indiana’s manufacturing base, Spilker noted it’s sometimes difficult to find the kind of qualified new employees he needs.
David Spilker started his business right after he graduated from Purdue in 1984.