In Memoriam Jacob Dehan

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In Memoriam



Jacob Dehan
1942-2020



The Hospitality Upgrade community and the hospitality technology world at large lost a true friend in April with the passing of Jacob Dehan. Jacob was known to most HU readers as the founder of Maestro PMS (from Northwind). Born in Morocco, Jacob and his family emigrated to Israel during pogroms in 1948. As a young man, he served in the Israeli military, including front-line communications postings in the Six Day War in 1967. Not long after the Six Day War, Jacob, Nora and young Warren emigrated to Canada. Intent on becoming good citizens of their new land, Jacob did what any red-blooded Canadian father would do: he put Warren into a youth hockey program. Well, skating probably wasn’t Warren’s thing. After a couple seasons of 6 a.m. practices on outdoor rinks in the Montreal winter, Warren asked Jacob if he could opt out of hockey, and Jacob readily agreed. Years later, Jacob admitted to Warren that he disliked the cold early morning youth hockey practices as much as Warren did! 

While that was going on, the young family continued to grow, welcoming Audrey and Tanya. In 1977, they moved to Toronto when Jacob assumed a software development job with NCR, working on early generations of ATMs. After a while, Jacob’s entrepreneurial drive won out and he leapt into business as an independent software development consultant under the name Dehan EDP Consulting, planting the seed that led to Maestro. Around 1979, Four Seasons Hotels hired Dehan EDP to develop a back-office accounting system. This custom software was written in COBOL to run on Northern Telecom minicomputers, roughly the size of your kitchen oven with a whopping 64K of memory and a 5MB disk.  

As custom software developers specializing in billing systems, they also built systems for freight forwarding companies, pager rental companies, survey providers and more. At some point in the mid-80’s, Jacob made a strategic pivot to focus on a core product. Having added Delta Hotels to the back-office customer base in addition to Four Seasons, he chose hotels as the target market. The core product was a front office system called “Computerized Hospitality Solutions,” a COBOL product. CHS was later migrated to Windows as CHS 2000, eventually retired in favor of the precursor to today’s Maestro PMS. Throughout, a core part of Jacob’s vision was that the system needed to be platform-independent and database-independent, a foundational strategy that has played a part in Maestro’s longevity in the marketplace. 

As the product and company matured, Jacob was joined at work by his children, Warren in 1980, now president, Audrey in 1999, serving as vice president and his youngest daughter Tanya working in administration. Warren’s two children, Zac and Olivia also work in the firm, and Audrey’s eldest daughter Kyleah, is a budding intern. Having established a family business with three generations serving in it may well be Jacob’s proudest legacy. Jacob’s definition of family was a broad one, encompassing all of Maestro’s 70 or so team members. Jacob, along with his wife Eleonora, worked hard to create a family vibe in the company, usually involving lots of food for everyone. The Friday morning company breakfasts are the stuff of legend. Many Maestro employees have well over 20 years of service, a few have more than 30 years. 

Later in life, Jacob found a new passion in golf. More than once he would choose to make a sales call because the resort had a course he wanted to play. He would often drive on trips rather than fly, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. And more often than not, he would be joined on these trips by his beloved Eleonora, known to those attending the HU Executive Vendor Summits simply as Nora. Nora and Jacob enjoyed 55 years of absolutely inseparable marriage together, both at home and in the office. 

The industry family will miss Jacob tremendously, and we are better for having known him. 
 



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