Fred Dunwoody has the write stuff

FJD & Associates founder Fred Dunwoody.

By GREGORY ZELLER //

Fred Dunwoody’s decades in the sales divisions of major-league imaging firms like Canon, Minolta and Konica taught him the future wasn’t in the copiers they sold but in the software plugging the machines into each client’s individual workflow.

When he came across a Swedish technology that took “digital writing” beyond the next level, he’d found his window.

Sweden’s Anoto Group uses a process involving micro-fine dot patterns and advanced digital pens outfitted with miniaturized cameras. The result is an unparalleled ability to create instant, errorless digitized versions of handwritten passages, prescriptions, notes, contracts and just about any other freehand content.

It was this technology that ultimately led Dunwoody to launch FJD & Associates, though a startup tech firm is a zillion light years from the career course he initially set.

The oldest of four siblings, Dunwoody decided to skip college after his father passed away during his senior year of high school, choosing instead to work and help his mother run the house. In response, his mother “beat the hell out of me all summer,” the eventual entrepreneur noted, and so he applied late – and was accepted even later – to Boston’s Wentworth Institute of Technology, where he’d pursue his first professional dream, architecture.

Degree in hand, Dunwoody was disappointed by the mid-1970s architecture job market – some entry-level positions, he said, paid less than he’d earned part-time while in school. So he put architecture aside and became a sales rep for a small copier company, a natural fit since, he said, “I love to talk and I love money.”

The post-graduate lifeboat became a 30-year-plus career, with Dunwoody ricocheting from one major corporation to another. At Minolta, he managed a branch servicing New York City’s outer boroughs; at Konica, he handled major accounts throughout New Jersey, including Konica’s long-running deal with NJ Transit.

It was during his Konica run that Dunwoody saw the forest for the trees. Copiers were just a commodity, he came to realize, and “the real business was in solutions.”

“The copier’s ability to integrate with a company’s business workflow was what made it beneficial,” he said. “So I became very interested in solution-selling.”

As the guy between Konica and its resellers, he came across Canadian software company Objectif Lune, which loosely translates as “Shoot For the Moon.” The Montreal-based firm had created a software package that integrated Konica copiers into the workflow of high-volume clients, a revelation that didn’t interest Konica but absolutely caught Dunwoody’s fancy.

Soon he was working for Objectif Lune, finally focusing on the solutions he believed were the future of the digital-imaging industry. It was there, about 12 years ago, that he came across Anoto Group. For this particular visionary, it was like the mothership calling him home.

“I can be sitting in China filling out a document with my natural handwriting and I can touch a button, and back at my office in New York City, in real time, they have it,” he said. “I don’t have to scan it. I don’t have to validate it. All the data is in a PDF now, or some other standardized format that can be instantly shared with any software application on the market.

“I looked at that and said, ‘Wow … there’s the future.’”

Not only the future of imaging, but the future of Dunwoody’s decidedly non-architectural career. He contacted a longtime friend from the copier industry who owned a New Jersey firm called Document Imaging Technologies. DIT was soon distributing Anoto Group products and Dunwoody was DIT’s vice president of technology and business development, a position he’d hold for about three years.

He launched FJD & Associates in 2010 as a channel partner to DIT, which would continue on the hardware side while Dunwoody focused primarily on the technology in what he called a “combined solution for prospective clients.”

In 2013, his Westbury-based startup became the primary U.S. distributor of Anoto’s digital Penvision products, a major coup for a small firm that, to this day, employs only Dunwoody and a full-time business administrator, with some part-time marketing help from the founder’s wife.

In September, Dunwoody’s local reseller began providing digital-writing solutions for Nassau BOCES administrators. And while it’s easily FJD’s largest deal to date, the BOCES contract might soon be one of many big deals under the startup’s belt.

Dunwoody hinted that there are “some very nice deals pending,” and while he wouldn’t divulge specifics, he did note one juicy prospect, possibly ready by the end of November, involving a major healthcare player. Another big deal could be announced in early 2016, he added, this involving “an 800-pound-gorilla-type company” also in the healthcare sector.

Healthcare could ultimately prove to be FJD & Associates’ go-to industry. One of the startup’s major channel partners, New Hampshire-based ChartaCloud Technologies, creates solutions specifically for hospitals and other healthcare providers, and Dunwoody is hardly ignorant of Long Island’s enormous, and growing, healthcare base.

“We’ve re-engineered our focus regarding the targets we’re trying to reach,” he said. “Healthcare is a major part of the business.”

But not the only part. One of the beauties of digital writing, according to Dunwoody, is that it’s applicable to just about any business where programs like Salesforce and QuickBooks or other digital-documentation needs are in play.

“We’ve said, ‘All right, how do we make this product more intuitive for the user?’” Dunwoody said. “We’ve made sure we can meet compliance standards so far as capturing information and keeping it secure. And we’ve created a number of connectors that allow us to connect to various applications very quickly.

“We’ve created an outstanding, real-time document and information-capture solution,” he added. “The savings of time and money are just tremendous.”