Tech entrepreneur takes her job quite literally
July 31, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Who is Annemarie Omrod?
She's CEO of Chicago-based John Galt Solutions. She's a top Chicago
tech entrepreneur little known in the local community. She doesn't
seek the spotlight or venture capital. She's quietly growing her
software company one client at a time.
just added to her roster Sterling, Ill.-based Wahl Clipper Corp.
-- a global leader in making trimming tools for the beauty- and
barber-salon trade, consumer personal care and animal grooming.
Her privately held
software company competes in the lucrative supply-chain solutions
market, which industry analyst AMR estimates generates $5.5 billion
in sales and is growing at 7.4 percent annually. Her clients know
her accomplishments and value her technology.
takes its name from the iconic figure in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas
Shrugged, where John Galt leads an intellectual strike
of leading industrialists to protect the world manufacturing economy
collector of minds
what John Galt represents in the book," Omrod says. "He
was the collector of great minds."
Omrod has collected
and packaged powerful thinking about demand planning into her
Her company's forecasting
software helps real world companies such as Elkay, Hasbro, John
Deere, L'Oreal, Oil-Dri, Wells Lamont and Wahl Clipper anticipate
and forecast production so that supply equals demand, and costly
inventories stay low.
In today's competitive
free market economy, John Galt Solutions helps manufacturing companies
Steve Bartok, demand
planning manager at Wells Lamont, says, "John Galt has hit
a home run with their capabilities to assist decision-makers in
identifying areas of the business that need forecast adjustment
actions. They are the driver of our forecast process."
exec Chuck Macke adds, "We have enjoyed a good relationship
with Anne's organization for years."
The 39-year-old Omrod
is a New Jersey native and Drexel University computer science
graduate who came to Chicago to make her fortune at the Board
of Trade. Instead of succeeding in soy bean futures, Omrod hit
it big in technology.
In 1996 she co-founded
John Galt Solutions with her husband, Kai Trepte. Today the duo
sit atop the old Commonwealth Edison building at 125 S. Clark
guiding a software business that is a world stopper.
"We want to be
No. 3 in demand planning," says a polite, ambitious and low-key
Omrod. Unlike the boisterous, overblown dot-com-era entrepreneurs,
Omrod eschews venture capital. Her business prospers through hard
work, penny pinching and boot strapping.
The company is self-funded
and successful. Yet Omrod is self-effacing and quietly aggressive.
She describes herself as having "Midwestern values"
despite growing up on the East Coast. The formula is working.
Though you've probably
never heard of John Galt Solutions or demand planning software,
Omrod's technology has more than 5,000 customers, and the math
kernel or processing logic for her product is licensed and incorporated
into the products offered by global software giants like PeopleSoft,
Oracle and QAD.
Her software company
isn't the biggest. She employs 25, but her aim is to capture and
dominate the small and mid-size market sector. Her competitors
include Manugistics and i2, two powerhouses in the manufacturing
and logistics arena. Omrod's success is based on serving the middle
market, and it works.
She's just back from
South America and has expansion plans for Europe.
Omrod is bullish on
growing a software business in Chicago though she says finding
tech talent is a problem.
"We have a hard
time finding experienced software engineers who've worked across
the product development life cycle," Omrod says. She needs
engineers with database skills, consulting expertise and supply
chain knowledge who can multitask.
They might be easier
to find in Silicon Valley, but Omrod's staying put. She likes
the Midwest business environment.
Her advice for Chicago's
emerging entrepreneurs is simple: "Focus on growing your
customer base before you worry about venture capital. That will
come once you have customers."
Being a profitable
No. 3 firm providing real value to mid-size companies appeals
more to Omrod than world domination of the supply chain software
Now that's the kind
of ambition Ayn Rand would have liked.
Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.