Leader celebrates 40 years

Article date: May 01, 2008

LDP Inc. celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2008, marking a long-standing history as a leader of information technology solutions. Over the past four decades, LDP has evolved from a batch computer provider of payroll and accounting services to a prominent provider of information technology solutions for education professionals, labor unions, and municipalities.

LDP consists of three divisions: Leader Data Processing, which provides processing and inventory services for municipalities; its Quest Systems and Technology LLC division, which provides custom software for labor unions that addresses labor and benefit management; and Leader Services, which provides custom web-based software for state departments of education and for education professionals in Pennsylvania, Washington, California, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Virgin Islands.

The Early Years

Ribbon cuttingLDP Inc. Began operation on May 8, 1968 from its newly constructed site in Valmont Industrial Park in West Hazleton, PA. Leader grew from the success of the Leader Store, an established retail department store in downtown Hazleton that in 1963 offered payroll and accounting data services to businesses in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For its first several years in business, LDP serviced commercial accounts as a batch data processing computer service bureau from its Valmont facility.

LDP serviced national and international corporations, and grew a national network for the ILGWU (International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union). In those early years, Leader began as an IBM house using IBM 360/20 card system technology. Employees sorted hundreds of thousands of cards every week, while the Data Entry staff keyed and verified approximately one million cards every month. Within a short period, business grew and Leader evolved to an IBM 360/40 disk/tape system.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, Leader moved to the next generation of computers, Hewlett-Packards, to develop custom software for a variety of clients, including some Fortune 500 companies. The company specialized in providing these services to labor unions, programming a number of modules to address their benefit needs, such as health and welfare funds and payroll. Some clients remained with Leader for more than 20 years, including Iron Workers, Teamsters, and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!).

PCs for saleIn the 1980s, Leader moved to the sales of products rather than strictly providing services when it began selling PCs and installing client/server turnkey systems to commercial clients (see photo). Leader’s sign out front read Today’s Computer Business Center (TCBC). In 1991, Leader acquired a medical billing division, named it Leader Physician Services, and began providing custom billing services for medical practices. It was this division that was awarded a contract from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) in 1992 to process and submit Medicaid reimbursements on behalf of school districts across the Commonwealth. This program became known as ACCESS and the organization to service this and all future school-based clients fell under a new division, Leader Services.

Word spread quickly of Leader’s proficiency in obtaining reimbursements for schools while adhering to program regulations, and in 1993 Leader bid and was awarded the direct services contract in Washington state. Over the past 16 years, Leader expanded its reach to helping participating schools in California, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. During this period, Leader Services began initiatives to better emphasize our renewed focus of services versus products.

In the mid 1990s, Leader evolved its custom programming services to support the Microsoft Windows environment, a richer graphic interface that was transforming computing throughout the decade. After a lengthy evaluation process, Leader adopted the Progress database and programming language, using it to develop custom medical billing applications, utility billing software, and an early version of Children Count, the client/server tool for tracking and reporting schools’ special education populations.

In addition to the time spent developing these applications, Leader confronted a problem that was predicted to have ripple effects across the globe – Y2K. Leader worked diligently for three years prior to January 1 to upgrade our clients’ software. This included extensive testing of the software and writing new software applications to replace applications that were not Y2K compliant.

In 2001, Leader developed its first web-based applications, including a custom application for capturing Medi-Cal fiscal data for its CA clients and a compliance monitoring application for Pennsylvania. More web applications followed, including the hugely successful WebSDS application for PA school-based Medicaid clients, and IEPWriter, used by almost 300 schools in Pennsylvania. Today, Leader supports over 40 web sites and applications, most recently adopting Microsoft’s .NET platform as its chosen development environment.

Looking Ahead

During its 40-year history, Leader has always understood that a company’s success or failure depends heavily on the skills and commitment of its staff. Leader is proud that so many of its employees have been with the company for 20 years or more. Leader is uniquely positioned for future growth because of its wide range of customized, easy-to-use software services. The company is currently marketing its services to the federal government.

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