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Keeping it all in the family at EXTOL International

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The Barans, Joshua, left, joined by father and son, Tony and Matthew Baran.
The Barans, Joshua, left, joined by father and son, Tony and Matthew Baran.

In October 1989, brothers Tony and Joe Baran founded EXTOL International – a provider of business integration software and services – in Pottsville.

Currently, Tony Baran serves as EXTOL's president and CEO, while Joseph Baran served as the company's most recent CTO until his passing in August 2011.

Demonstrating a traditional line of succession, their sons will soon take over the business.

Joshua and Matthew Baran have recently been named to the company's executive leadership team as its chief technology officer and chief operating officer, respectively. In their new roles, Joshua will oversee the company's product research and development, while Matthew will manage its sales, product development and services departments.

“Joshua and Matthew have demonstrated they are ready to handle greater responsibility within the company, and play critical roles working with our executive team to shape the future of EXTOL,” said Tony Baran.

“We are confident that each of them can extend both EXTOL's and the Baran family's legacy of developing high-performing, innovative products supported by unparalleled service.”

Joshua and Matthew both transition to their new positions with more than two decades of combined experience in programming and customer services roles within EXTOL.

“We have a very fortunate dynamic working together. I've been here a decade, my cousin a little more, and we never saw our dads fight. We were very fortunate to have those role models,” Matthew said.

Joshua joined the company's software development team part-time in 1997 and became a full-time programmer in 2000. He started at the company at the bottom and has worked his way through the ranks over the years.

“It's been kind of like reverse nepotism,” Matthew joked.

Before becoming the company's COO, Matthew served as EXTOL's director of managed services for more than three years.

Joining the family business wasn't always in the cards for Matthew, however.

“I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I said I was never moving home and never working for the family business,” he said.

“But I graduated (college) and all of those things changed. (So) when I started, my intention was to make it a career and was hoping to replace my father one day.”

Joshua's father, Joe, passed away in August of 2011, but that didn't stop the Baran family legacy from continuing on.

“They're certainly taking over quite a bit as far as day-to-day operations. So I can spend more time with customers and other outside interests that I have,” said Tony.

Today, the company has about 750 active customers with two main product lines.

But that's just the beginning of the Baran family story.

In 1950, the father of the Baran brothers started a towel business. Tony joined the company in 1971 upon graduating from Lehigh University. Several years later, his brother Joe joined the company.

Following the overseas exodus of the apparel industry, the brothers faced the realization that they had to throw in the towel on their family business.

“When I joined the apparel industry almost 10 percent was imported. When over 90 percent was imported, we decided to get into another business,” Tony said.

EXTOL was born soon after.

The company creates business integration software and services that enable enterprises to connect with their customers and suppliers, and to integrate business processes and information with internal or cloud-based applications.

The company's location in Pottsville was supposed to be temporary.

“Here in Schuylkill County, you wouldn't think of as the hotbed of high-technology companies,” Tony said. “We thought as soon as we get on our feet, we have to move into an area where there is a greater abundance of technology companies.”

But they haven't had to pack up and move on. In fact, EXTOL has been able to glean excellent workers from the local community. They've even had people come back to the area just to join their team.

“We've had a very stable workforce which is important,” Tony said. “We have a lot of continuity here (with) people who understand our product line and the problems that we solve.”

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