Hippo CMMS - An Origin Story

MMP Architects employs an array of talented and creative individuals, with passions and interests that extend beyond design. Such is the case with MMP Principal Architect Robert (Bob) Wrublowsky. In addition to being a 24-year architecture veteran, Bob is also known as an amateur coder with an interest in software development. 20 years ago, this interest was the driving force behind a venture into the maintenance management software world, known today as Hippo CMMS. 

Hippo CMMS specializes in user-friendly work order management, preventive maintenance, and asset/ equipment management for a variety of industries. With over 400 clients around the world and significant employee growth (the team is now at 15 full time staff members), Hippo’s simple roots have sprouted into an impressive software force. But to truly understand where Hippo is headed, we need first explain where it came from. The following is the Hippo CMMS origin story.

With a mandate to “push the envelope of contemporary design”, MMP has always valued innovation and a polished client experience. In the pursuit of providing added client value to their busy architectural projects, they tasked a young intern, Bob Wrublowsky, to find and implement automated facilities management. Bob began by teaching himself current computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and referring them to clients looking to track building maintenance. During this time, Bob found numerous gaps between the products that were available and the needs of his clients.  

Bob explained, “I believed the market badly needed a better software to create practices that would optimize the life-cycle and reduce the total cost of ownership for the buildings we were designing.”

With the old adage in mind, Bob decided that in order to deliver the perfect CMMS software to his clients, he would have to create it himself.

The year 2000 was a turning point for the software. Charged to solve a building maintenance concern for Canada Public Works’ Northern School projects, MMP decided to utilize their newly developed facilities management software to combat the rapid deterioration of Sapotawaeyak Cree Nation School. This $32 million school would become Hippo’s first pilot project.

To ensure that the software met the unique needs of the project, Bob worked closely with software programmers to refine code and modify its interface. They determined that in order for the project to succeed, specific criteria such as a graphical and user-friendly interface, reporting system, document and image storing, and scalability, must be implemented.

These founding principles still guide Hippo’s software development today. Hippo’s Advanced Dash system is the result of the original graphical user-interface, creating the first and only graphical CMMS on the market today. In addition, its user-friendly appeal makes the software accessible for a variety of technical skill levels, while the unique pricing structure allows multi-site operations the affordability they need to capture all maintenance data.

These product guidelines set the stage for the first version of the software launched in 2002. Branded with the name OMISI - Cree for “show me how”-   the software was well received by the client and went on to be installed in later First Nation Northern School Projects. Following the Sapotawaeyak launch, Opaskwayak Cree Nation high school "Oscar Lathlin" was the second school project to receive OMISI.

As the popularity of the software grew among MMP’s client base, the developers realized that this graphical product had the potential of wider market appeal. In 2004, the firm agreed that OMISI needed a name change if it was to carry mass appeal.

Bob explained, “We selected Hippo as the name through a series of late night conferences and brainstorming about how to relaunch the product. We were looking for a symbol that represented unassuming strength, something not overwhelming or overly energized, but something that would conjure images of power and mass.” The idea to call the product Hippo FM came to life when they brainstormed the thought of software designed to keep maintenance manager’s "heads above water" through the ease of tracking PM activities. At the time, the team also decided that they tag FM or facility management at the end of Hippo to indicate the software’s functionality as an umbrella term.

Product awareness quickly grew and Hippo FM found itself in new local industries. The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, which operates all health centres in Winnipeg, opted to use Hippo as their CMMS solution. In 2008, knowing that product popularity and the industry was sure to grow exponentially over the coming years, the owners decided to allocate a dedicated team of Hippo software staff to oversee product development. Three associates, working out of the MMP office, were the first members of Hippo’s evolving team. The next three years would see several strategy changes, numerous software versions, and 200% client growth.

Growing to a team of seven in 2013, the group decided they had outlived their capacity in the MMP office and moved into their very own Hippo headquarters (located conveniently in the vacant suite below MMP’s). Hippo received a total makeover in 2014 with the launch of its new re-brand and updated website. In addition to the aesthetic upgrade, the marketing team opted for a slight name change; dropping the FM in place of a more descriptive title- CMMS. Hippo CMMS, as we know it today, was born!

Bob continues to provide support and strategic leadership to the Hippo CMMS crew. With the help of his leadership and new investment partners, Hippo CMMS has grown to have over 400 clients and an impressive 18,000+ users from a variety of industries. With no signs of slowing down, Hippo is excited to continue this growth well into the future.

For more information about Hippo CMMS and its products, visit www.hippocmms.com.
This was a guest post written by Margeaux Girardin, Hippo CMMS Marketing Coordinator.