Randy Nichols, Developer in Chapman, KS, United States
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Randy Nichols

Verified Expert  in Engineering

Software Developer

Chapman, KS, United States
Toptal Member Since
April 7, 2015

Randy has been providing elegant solutions to vexing problems for over 20 years. He feels developers have a personal responsibility to be genuinely engaged with both initiators of a project and those applying the solution long term. With clear intent, good communication, and focused effort, everyone wins.


Bayer Crop Science
Bootstrap, Neo4j, D3.js, ECMAScript (ES6), Babel, Webpack, Python, Flask, React
Bayer Crop Science
Bootstrap, Jasmine, Karma, Python, Django, JavaScript, Angular, Babel...
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Maps API, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Django...




Preferred Environment

Slack, Jira, Git, WebStorm, Linux, Node.js, CSS, Agile Software Development, CircleCI, GitHub, Pivotal Tracker, Hapi.js, Webpack 2, MySQLdb

The most amazing...

...portal I've helped develop is the communication hub of Alco Stores, Inc. It allows stores and the general office to communicate in an unprecedented manner.

Work Experience

Web Developer

2017 - 2017
Bayer Crop Science
  • Used React on the front-end to create a website that allows colleagues to define skillsets and current relationships to optimize time at a global conference.
  • Used the intent of site and beginning wireframe ideas, assisting in overall site design to simplify data collection and recommendations based on colleague data.
  • Assisted in developing complex queries against the Neo4j graph DB.
  • Used Flask with JWT to create a back-end for authentication and REST queries.
Technologies: Bootstrap, Neo4j, D3.js, ECMAScript (ES6), Babel, Webpack, Python, Flask, React

Front-end Angular Developer

2016 - 2017
Bayer Crop Science
  • Worked on a two man development team focusing primarily on front-end Angular development while the other developer focused on the back-end Django implementation.
  • Created force visualizations in D3 to assist in conveying complex scientific data.
  • Enjoyed a close relationship with project stakeholders.
  • Ensured that the site looked good and ran on all major browsers.
  • Learned much working with another Toptal developer and Toptal project management leads about different levels of project responsibility.
Technologies: Bootstrap, Jasmine, Karma, Python, Django, JavaScript, Angular, Babel, ECMAScript (ES6), Webpack

Web Developer and Data Accumulation

2015 - 2016
  • Created a web interface to allow users engaged through Amazon's Web Turk to mark specific features found in landscapes for the company with Google's Maps API.
  • Accumulated data and exceeded deadline requirements for public presentation and creation of mechanisms that allowed batch management of numerous Amazon Turk workers.
  • Managed the details of qualification, compensation, reviews, and blocking of AWS Web Turk workers from broad-stroke requirements from the client.
  • Helped develop business rule sets based on feedback from success or failure at acquiring workers.
  • Assisted the client in the next step of the project where in-house developers took over the process after initial objectives were successfully met.
Technologies: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Maps API, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Django, Python

Senior Programmer/Analyst

2012 - 2015
Alco Stores, Inc.
  • Designed our order dispatch system allowing stores to ship any store-based inventory items purchased from our eCommerce site. The system dispatched orders based on real-time inventory metrics, previous order load, and distance from the customer. If a store had to reject an order for any reason, it was logged and automatically delegated to the next logical location.
  • Created an internal website with Pyramid that allowed buyers to manage the Magento/OMX system by keeping pricing and promotions in sync with spreadsheets (Buyers preferred using spreadsheets as a means of communication).
  • Added validation of uploaded spreadsheets to allow buyers to verify the integrity of spreadsheets against Magento before attempting to upload edits or new items. This eliminated previously required back and forth with spreadsheets while developers verified integrity. It also allowed finer-grained checks as other issues were discovered.
  • Provided the store support center with reporting to follow up on customer issues and any compliance questions.
  • Tested ruthlessly and wrote concise documentation into the site to provide stores and our helpdesk guidance in the event of exceptions.
Technologies: XML, JSON, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Python, Pyramid, CherryPy, Magento

Senior Programmer/Analyst

2010 - 2015
Alco Stores, Inc.
  • Created customer loyalty integration for Alco with minimal impact to existing systems. Successfully processed over $1.4 billion in sales transactions and provided marketing with detailed reporting to allow targeted advertisements.
  • Wrote extensive testing and documentation around the customer loyalty project. I'm pleased to note that it ran without any issue for the lifetime of the deployment.
  • Created a portal site to allow marketing to manage the creation and distribution of our email list through a PowerMTA system. We used this system to send over 3 million emails per week for several years.
  • Managed the Apache site that provided the resource assets (images and PDFs) for the emails we sent.
  • Provided reporting based on email opens and clicks to allow marketing to respond to customer trends.
Technologies: XML, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Jython, Python

Intranet Developer

2008 - 2012
Alco Stores, Inc.
  • Integrated dual authentication allowing both store-based Tomax LDAP associates and Active Directory-based store support center clients to use the same portal. Directed authentication to the most likely system for auth based on login filters.
  • Allowed authorization based on ldap auth source and MS SQL tables defining the hierarchy placement of the client.
  • Wrote a custom CMS that allowed store support clients to continue working in a way that was familiar to them but allowed store-based clients access to documents previously unavailable to them.
  • Wrote a task dispatch system that allowed departments to present tasks to stores and the store support center to view the tasks from a higher level determining compliance. It allowed multiple store groupings based on the authentication level of the user signed into the portal.
  • Increased load capacity by running Zope server behind Apache and deferring all static files to the Apache server. Enhanced security by using SSL and certificates.
Technologies: JavaScript, Dojo, MooTools, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, LDAP, Jython, Apache Tomcat, Zope, Python

Java Developer

2006 - 2008
Alco Stores, Inc.
  • Wrote dashboards to supplement reporting.
  • Installed and managed our JBoss development environment.
  • Successfully managed issues between our bank, new authorizer, and Tomax when bringing the Tomax point-of-sale system online.
  • Created Jython utilities to communicate with Tomax APIs and presented with Tomcat.
  • Wrote a process to extract XML details from the Tomax system to allow more detailed reporting than the base Tomax system provided.
Technologies: XML, Java, Jython, Oracle, JBoss, Jakarta EE

Lead C Developer for Point-of-Sale System

2001 - 2006
Alco Stores, Inc.
  • Managed the codebase for two platforms and network topologies, token ring, and ethernet.
  • Created a secure website to manage new requirements and updates to all registers and back-end systems using the legacy distribution available for the chain.
  • Learned that writing code that writes code (Python) is not only acceptable but a solid and repeatable way to do development.
  • Added the ability to accept EBT-based tenders, manufacturer coupons, store based coupons, and the tax algorithm edits necessary to maintain the integrity of the tender system. (We were in 18 states, each of which had unique tax requirements.).
  • Wrote the bridge to allow both platforms to communicate with a Linux server placed into stores to manage perpetual inventory. Enabled all communication from the new Linux server to our general office through the existing legacy communication platform in the point-of-sale system.
  • Wrote numerous utilities and created reporting to allow proactive management of systems instead of reacting to failures.
Technologies: Zope, Python, REXX, Batch, Linux, Make, C

Alco Portal

The communication hub of Alco Stores, Inc. It allows stores and the general office to communicate in an unprecedented manner. Over the years, we've changed the architecture to keep up with increased load and a wider audience to keep response times acceptable.

At first, it provided real-time dashboards to store associates allowing them to better manage activity. Now, it includes task delegation, an extensive content management system, and dashboards for virtually every department.

Customer Loyalty Program

We managed over a million customers and over $1.4 billion in sales over the course of several years. The program required minimal edits to the existing point-of-sale system and was robust through its entire duration. Extensive testing and documentation provided the foundation for its success.

Email Distribution

With a weekly send of over 3 million emails, rising costs influenced marketing to take email distribution in-house. Since marketing was already creating PDFs to define emails, we kept that part of the workflow and authored a system to give marketing the means to slice the PDF themselves, define where the click would land and distribute to different distribution lists through a PowerMTA setup.

At first, Marketing wanted IT to be engaged in all the email sends since that was their history with our consultants. By giving them great tools and training them to take more ownership of the process, we eliminated that dependency and empowered them to act with greater freedom. We sent millions of personally-tailored emails each week for years without any issue.

Store Inventory on eCommerce Site

Alco elected to list our store inventory on an eCommerce site and enable stores to fulfill the orders by shipping directly to the customer.

Store associates signed in with their familiar point-of-sale credentials and received a list of orders to fulfill. It dispatched the order to the optimal store based on real-time inventory monitoring, distance to the customer, and current order load.

I learned to never underestimate the value of elegant simplicity. The interface presented the basics needed by the stores to fulfill the orders. This made training new fulfillment stores easier. Fewer moving parts required less to document and maintain.

Private Intranet Solutions

My work with Toptal has been in private intranet sites or behind the scene startups. I'm most pleased with the heart to keep the interfaces clean and usable.
1987 - 1990

Associate's Degree in General Studies

Pratt Community College - Pratt, KS


React, Node.js, jQuery, Google Maps API, Backbone.js, Underscore.js, MooTools, Dojo Toolkit, D3.js


GitHub, Git, Babel, Karma, Webpack, Eclipse IDE, Emacs, CircleCI, Pivotal Tracker, Apache Tomcat, Make, WebStorm, Jira, Slack, Subversion (SVN), Webpack 2


Bootstrap, Flask, Django, Bootstrap 3, CherryPy, Angular, Express.js, Hapi.js, Zope, Dojo, Pyramid, Jasmine


JavaScript, HTML, Python, CSS, Jython, ECMAScript (ES6), C, Batch, Java, SQL, XML, REXX


ZODB, Neo4j, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MySQL Daemon, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, MySQLdb, JSON


Windows, Linux, Oracle, Jakarta EE, JBoss, Magento, Amazon Web Services (AWS)


Design Patterns, Database Design, Agile Software Development

Industry Expertise

Retail & Wholesale


Front-end Development, User Interface (UI), User Experience (UX), LDAP, Amazon Mechanical Turk

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