September, 2022 – The Félix business award, announced by INDEX and the Slovak Savings Bank, can be won by inspiring companies that contribute to the country’s prosperity and social responsibility. YMS is nominated for the award in the category Extraordinary family business.

The ceremonial announcement of results will be happening in Bratislava at the end of October.
Read the full article about YMS, as published in the magazine Index, by the editor Mr. Jozef Ryník:
They save forests and money. Computer scientists from Trnava are world-class in geodata
When Google released their maps in the year 2005, the family company YMS from Trnava was already supplying a dynamic navigation system to Dubai. When the American technological giant used mobile location and satellites, Slovaks used data from traffic lights. A long-term orientation on innovation raised YMS into one of the most well-known Slovak IT companies.
From digital prehistoric times
YMS is among the oldest Slovak IT companies. It began literally in “digital prehistoric times”. Even in the year 1990, it began digitizing technical documents for energy companies. “Gas pipelines were marked on old maps that didn’t always fit the actual location of pipelines underground,” mentions the son of the founder of the company, and Chairman of the Supervisory board YMS, Mikuláš Szapu.
They offered gas workers a digitized version of the designs with the newest technology from USA, so they could have an overview of where the pipelines were and where they needed to be fixed. They used technologies from Intergraph, which were also used by the American government, the army, and NASA.
They survived/outlasted/beat the competition
“At the time, there were about 10 companies in the Czech-Slovak market that did geographical systems. The majority were traders. They sold software and hardware equipment, for example, scanners with large margins,” explains Mikuláš Szapu, saying that YMS mainly provided services related to scanning and processing data into a digital form: “Thanks to a focus on service we’re still on the market.”
According to the co-owner of the company, the original competitors have since disappeared from the market. However, the unknown software company YMS became a Slovak-wide phenomenon. They have customers in the commercial sphere and in the public sector, their systems are used by the Military forests and properties, the Administration of Slovak Caves, and the State Geological Institute of Dionýz Štúr.
When YMS was starting, Mikuláš Szapu and his father traveled across Slovakia and approached gas and power plants and showed them what they could achieve with modern geographical software and a quality scanner. “Securing commissions was very fast because it wasn’t possible to make an appeal, as is the case now with public procurements,” adds the co-owner of the family business.
By the way, what does YMS stand for? “My father wanted to have his initials on the front and “I” stands for engineer (in Slovak). I convinced him to use Y because there won’t be many companies like that. I was right. Now we even have an English version of the acronym – Your Measurable Success – or it can even mean Young Mikuláš Szapu,” explains the co-owner of the company.
Technological changes
At the beginning of the millennium, YMS specialists had islands of geodata that they wanted to integrate using the most modern world standards. Geographical systems of the time worked on the operating system Unix, which unfortunately didn’t cooperate with other corporate information systems much. This is why they moved to Windows, so they could connect geodata with the technical and economical information of their customers. “We were able to connect/link maps, management documents, even maintenance systems, which interested/tempted customers,” mentions Mikuláš Szapu. Therefore, if a user was on a map and clicked a valve, its entire history would be displayed, including when it was installed and repaired.
In the present such integration is a taken for granted, however, at the beginning of the millennium it required software tools from companies like Oracle or IBM, which were difficult to implement and also exclusive.
Maps from the cadaster were therefore digitized for each customer individually and were updated manually each year. Today thanks to public data and integration options all that is needed is for the user to click their mapping system and they will receive online current data from the cadastre.
The next technological step for YMS came in around the year 2010, when the American company Intergraph was acquired by financial investors, who in the interest of optimization cut off external partners, one of which was the Trnava company. “We lost an important partner, but our customers/clients trusted us and soon moved with us to geographical systems from the corporation ESRI,” Mikuláš Szapu says, remembering the difficult times.
They withdrew from abroad
At the beginning of the millennium, YMS decided to expand abroad. It correlated to Mikuláš Szapu Jr. taking over the management of the company from his father. The Trnava residents established branches in the Czech Republic, Germany, and even the Middle East. In cooperation with their partners, they provided solutions built on dynamic navigation and localization.
However, after the financial crisis they withdrew from abroad because even their large international clients were cutting costs and canceling long-term partnerships. “Currently we are focusing on Slovakia and we have more than enough work,” states the owner of the company.
For example, they created a geographical information system for Slovak forest managers, which is used to, for example, determine the age of trees, or detect illegal logging. Every other tree in Slovakia is in the YMS system, they map the entire cycle of forestry, from planting to harvesting. Using the satellite images, the client knows the exact type of wood and its quality.
For the gas company Eustream, YMS created the application yPipe. Although it’s tailor-made, if there is interest it can be adapted for energy companies. “We were always focused on segments that we understand. We knew that if we wanted to work for gas companies, we had to be as good at their technology as they were,” adds Mikuláš Szapu.
They even offer aerial laser scanning and imaging of the earth’s surface with LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to their clients. It enables, for example, to find out how fast trees grow, where there is a risk of landslides, or where there are archaeologically valuable remains hidden in the forest. This way, YMS helped map, for example, the Molpír fortress near Smolenice.
They save forests and money
Three years ago, in Trnava, they started processing satellite data from the European project Copernicus. It can be used by anybody who manages large areas of land, forests, or linear constructions, like gas pipelines and water pipes.
For example, YMS used them to analyze occurrences of bark beetle in forests. “We discovered/found which parts of the forest were infected, so we didn’t have to chop down the entire tree and saved healthy wood,” explains Mikuláš Szapu.
Accurate geodata can solve unforeseen circumstances and save customers money. For example, gas workers use them to evaluate defects in their pipelines. Since repairs are expensive they appreciate preventative information about pipe weld failure to change the type of insulation or perform predictive maintenance.
“For example, we can detect/identify why a pipeline is always rusting in the same spot. It could be related to the acidity of the soil or the type of insulation, maybe the pipes were incorrectly placed in the ground during construction “ illustrates the co-owner of YMS.
Another product from the Trnava company works similarly to prevent issues, the so-called erosion calculator. It predicts soil erosion and therefore prevents damage to soil and/or property.
Geo information can also be used by municipalities. YMS cooperates/collaborates with the Trnava self-governing region on a project to maintain roads. It plans to deliver software as a service that could also be used by other municipalities.
Mikuláš Szapu says that innovation is the basis that determines a company’s survival in its industry, because technology is advancing very quickly. That is why YMS also relies heavily on research and development and cooperates with several universities.
“Oftentimes a customer will tell us that a new product is the music of the future, but we would also like to see it in practice,” he explains. According to him, researchers can create amazing things, which unfortunately often stay behind the walls of the laboratories. That is why YMS tries to get them to their business partners.
Third generation
YMS is now a medium-size company with fifty employees, but despite that, they still consider themselves a family. “We have employees that have been with us 25 years,” says Mikuláš Szapu.
The third generation of the family works in the company. The founder, Mikuláš Szapu sr. is in retirement and is no longer involved in the management of the company. Mikuláš Szapu jr. started helping his father out with the company when he was twenty and is currently the chairman of the supervisory board. During the coronavirus pandemic, Mikuláš Szapu the youngest joined the family business, the third Mikuláš in a row. He worked as an assistant project manager for two years, but now he is professionally engaged in sailing. The second son Dag is studying Computer Science in the United Kingdom, and interns as a temporary worker in the company, so it is likely that later on, he will join the family business permanently.
At first, the Szapu family took business and problems home, but Mikuláš’s wife quickly shut those habits down when their children were born. “I think we made the right decision and I don’t regret it”, says the owner of YMS.
Today, even his wife is on the company’s supervisory board, and Mikuláš’s sister also works in the company. The family is now only in the controlling bodies of YMS, and it is run by an independent management team. “If the company is to survive, it has to be built on professionalism and loyalty,” says the co-owner.
The basis is people
For the past thirty years, YMS has essentially been doing the same thing with maps and data, it was simply done differently in the 90’s compared to today. The need for information about property by location hasn’t disappeared, only newer technologies are constantly used for it. “This is why we are also gradually getting into facility management, which has a good future,” states Mikuláš Szapu.
However, according to him, the foundation for future plans is to keep excellent people in the company and look for new ones. “Currently it is difficult to find not only an IT technician, but any profession. We feel that after corona a lot of new projects were started. As if everybody was trying to catch up on the lost years,” concludes the owner of YMS.