About Our Company

Great Software Documentation, Inc. was created in March, 2005. We are located in Lutherville, Maryland (a small suburb just north of Baltimore, Maryland). Our company is a subchapter S corporation and is wholly family owned. If you are interested in reading the whole story of how we came to be in this business, then you came to the right place.

Company Formation

After serving 7 years on active duty in the U. S. Army and working for the Social Security Administration for 25 years, my wife, Carol Ann, and I retired from federal service in January 2004. Carol Ann had to have hip-replacement surgery that month. Naturally, I had to spend a lot of time nearby to ensure that her recovery would be safe and swift. During this time I worked more and more with the Viking VIP Embroidery software (version 6.0). I worked on and off with the Viking software since we bought version 5.0 of the software. Now I was able to work with the software for 5 or 6 hours a day.

After Carol Ann's recovery, she began attending sewing classes again at our Viking Dealer in Cockeysville, Maryland. I took her to each class because we did not want her to deal with moving her Designer I into and out of class. I took my laptop computer with me and, while she was in class, I worked with the embroidery software. During one of the classes a customer came into the store and asked one of the employees a question about the software. I overheard the question and listened as the employee said that she was unsure of the answer. Since I knew the answer to the question, I told the ladies that I could answer the question. Both ladies listened to my explanation and after the customer who originally asked the question left the store, the employee, who turned out to be the store manager, asked me to remain after the class concluded and talk with her for a few minutes.

When the class was over, we talked for a few minutes and the manager asked me if I wanted to teach software classes at the store. I told her that I had just retired and I did not really want a job. She told me that I could work as little or as much as I wanted because I would be an independent contract instructor and not a Viking employee. I agreed and began teaching classes. And then, about 6 months later, the 3D Embroidery software was released at the 2004 Viking Convention.

When the 3D Professional software was first released, I suspended my classes so that I could learn how to use the new software and wait for the release of a new third-party book about how to use this new software. After waiting for about 3 months, no new third-party book on the new software was available. While talking with the Viking store manager one day about resuming my classes, she asked me, "Why don't you write a book about the software?" We talked about it for a while and I told her that I did not know who to get in touch with to get permission to use screen shots of the new software for my book. She told me that she would find out who I needed to talk with in Westlake, Ohio. I decided to go ahead with the project.

I was told to contact the software coordinator in Westlake about obtaining permission to use the screen shots. I called Soni Grint and introduced myself. She told me to go ahead and write the book and then send them an electronic copy of the book so that they could take a look at it before giving me approval to proceed. Soon after sending her my first book, I received a phone call from Soni. She was happy with the book and gave me permission to proceed. Then she asked me how I was going to distribute my books. I told her that I planned to print a few copies on my ink-jet printer and just sell them to the students in my classes. Soni then said something that completely surprised me. She said, "We would like to distribute your book." I was stunned. I never thought (or really intended) to actually go into business. After all, as I would tell everyone, I'm retired. Soni then told me that she was going to have me talk to their buyer, Theresa Robinson.

Theresa came on the phone and we began to talk. She asked me what company I represented. I was unaccustomed to doing business with anyone other than as a consumer. I said, "Well, it's just me." She then explained how it would be best for both of us if I were incorporated as a business. I told her that I would find out how to incorporate and then I would call her back.

Back then I didn't know anything about business, incorporating, or any of what I thought would be a large number of legal issues. I thought that I would have to hire a lawyer to get incorporated. I was wrong. After a little research on the internet, I learned that I only had to fill out one piece of paper and pay a small fee to the State of Maryland and I was incorporated. The IRS web site told me all I needed to knowabout which form to use to comply with federal obligations for small businesses and how to obtain my Employer's Identification Number online. I didn't need a lawyer or anyone's advice or guidance other than that which I read online. I visited the Maryland Comptroller's office with my paperwork and a check for my fee and in less than 5 hours I was legally incorporated. I was now ready to call Theresa back.

The next time I spoke to Theresa, I told her that she was now dealing with Great Software Documentation, Inc. She told me that I should order about 1,000 copies of my book from the printer. I was surprised. I never thought that there would be much demand for my book. I didn't even have the name of a printing company in mind. Theresa suggested that I call the person who does their printing and she gave me the phone number of Derald Timm.

I called Derald to talk about ordering my books. He had a lot of questions related to the printing standards I wanted to use. After we talked for a while, we settled on the spiral bound format that all of my books now use.

That first book, Essentials of 3D Embroidery Studio, sold better than I ever imagined. With that success, I immediately began work on my second book, 3D Embroidery Studio Unleashed. Sales of that book also surprised me. The first 1,000 copies sold in 8 days. It took me a year to sell the second printing of 1,000 copies. My third book, Basic Digitizing, was released in March of 2006. And then I received the call.

One day, in August of 2006, I received a call from VSM Sewing Inc. in Westlake, Ohio. They told me that a new version of the software, 4D Professional, was going to be released in March of 2007 and I was being asked to be a beta-tester. I would receive a copy of the software in September of 2006 in Westlake and I would get to meet several of the people on the software development team. I was almost speechless and I could not believe my ears. This was one of the most exciting times of my life. My wife and I would travel to Westlake where I would spend two days getting the new software and meeting the other beta-testers. And I could not tell anyone about it.

We have two grown children, a son and a daughter, who would have to be told that my wife and I were going to Cleveland for a few days. Naturally, they asked why we were going to Cleveland. We said that it was a secret and they would find out about it later. We learned later that there was much speculation between the kids and they thought that one or both of us might be ill and we were going to the Cleveland Clinic for some kind of medical treatment. When I learned that they were worried about our health, we told them that everything was fine and that we just couldn't talk about it. The next 8 months of secrecy would be hard to maintain...but we did it. They never did learn about the new software until after we returned from the 2007 Viking Convention.

Since then I was also invited to receive a pre-release copy of the new 4D Family Portrait software so that I could write a book that would accompany the release of this new software.

Prior to my retirement, if anyone told me that this is what I would be doing, I would have said, "No way." I'm not a professional writer (I majored in Psychology and ROTC in college). I was a computer programmer for many years and I never thought I would own my own small business after retirement. I still have time for plenty of fishing, golf, kayaking, and shooting sports. But what I really like doing is teaching small classes about the software and writing books that help people to enjoy their software and their embroidery machines.

By the way, many people ask about how I chose the name of my web site. When I was working at SSA, we often would kid people about how hard they were working and how they were trying to earn the fictitious "Mr. (or Miss) Dedication" award. One afternoon as I was wrapping up a class, my wife came into the store where I was teaching to do some shopping. I introduced her to my students. One of the students said, "Oh, you sure are lucky being married to Tim. He is so patient with us." Putting on an act of exaggerated modesty, said, "You know something? You're right about that. I am extremely patient with everything." My wife rolled her eyes and laughed. I decided a few days later to become known as Mr. Patience.