Alan Field began SurfN Development, a business that develops Internet software, nearly 11 years ago. He said SurtN runs off a vault with computer servers through which they provide business software to their clients.
According to Mr. Field, the service provided by SurfN is very similar to online banking. Businesses connect to the server at SurfN and are able to eliminate the use of multiple applications to run their businesses. Instead of using one program for e-mail, one for payroll and so forth, clients are able to handle all transactions simply through the one server provided them by SurfN.
Mr. Field said the services his business provides were basically unheard of when he began the work in March 1996. The Internet was a very new technology, and online banking was not even in existence at that time, which made his services extremely unique.
About three years after the birth of SurfN Development, Alan’s wife, Pauline Field, became involved in the business as well. Mrs. Field studied computer science in college, and was actually working for Provident, but she said she was expecting a child and felt like she should be at home with her family.
"Alan needed someone who understood computers to help him build (the business)," Mrs. Field said. "And that enabled me to stay in my career and home school my children as well."
Mrs. Field currently teaches all five of their children at home. Their studies are highly hands-on in nature, and they are all involved to some degree in keeping SurfN up and running.
Their oldest child, Bryan, is only 14, but he is already a key player in What goes on in the SurfN offices. "(Bryan) is heavily involved in the business," Mr. Field said. "He grew up in it. It’s all he knows."
Bryan will soon be tested for qualification as a certified Java programmer, and his parents said they expect him to become the youngest ever to qualify in the state of Tennessee.
Mr. and Mrs. Field said all five of their children help out with the work at SurfN in different ways. Their 12-year-old daughter, Susan, does almost all of the bookkeeping and filing for SurfN, and is also a programmer. She, like Bryan, will soon attempt certification with Java, and will likely take her brother's place as Tennessee's youngest certified programmer.
Nine-year-old Sarah works as an office runner and helps Susan with filing responsibilities, and youngest daughters Elisabeth and Mary help out with odds and ends and light office work. Mrs. Field said her children love helping out with the business and have a great time doing so. :For us, we try to do everything as a family," she said. "We involve our children in everything we do."
According to Mr. Field, the Windows application is on it’s way out and Google is in, thus more and more businesses are going net-based to do their work. He said the database used by SurfN is the very same one used by Google, only on a smaller scale.
"At SurfN, we have spent 10 years developing our code base, picking up clients along the way," Mr. Field said. "We're at the point now where we can really go to the market."
SurfN now serves 65 local clients, and it is picking up more all the time.