Supply chain software firm LLamasoft plans to add 20 employees in 2011
For Ann Arbor-based software firm LLamasoft, sales growth is nothing new.
The company has averaged 66 percent annual revenue growth since it was formed eight years ago.
But now the firm is reporting a surge in interest in its supply chain management software, including 120 percent revenue growth in 2010, and is quickly hiring workers to meet demand and build new products.
LLamasoft doubled its workforce to 50 employees in 2010 and expects to add another 20 by the end of 2011, said CEO Donald Hicks and executive vice president Toby Brzoznowski.
Nathan Bomey | AnnArbor.com
Because of the growth, the company has used up the 6,000 square feet of space it rents on the fourth floor of the First National Bank building on Main Street and is in negotiations to possible lease another 1,500 square feet of space on the third floor.
The growth comes after the global economic crisis flattened the supply chain industry, eliminating some competitors and sending major global corporations in search of advanced solutions for supply chain management problems.
Meanwhile, the "continuous move toward globalization of companies" and rising oil prices have increased the need for corporations to control shipping costs, inventory issues and energy expenses, Brzoznowski said. All of that has benefited LLamasoft, which last year added a wide range of global clients, including Ford, General Electric, Target, Kellogg and Intel.
"They're realizing that to actually compete now, I have to have a better-designed supply chain than my competitor," Brzoznowski said.
Hicks said he feels like LLamasoft has surpassed the type of plateau that often confronts mid-sized companies and that the company is positioned for big growth.
"We actually grew during the financial recession a little bit," he said. "But our direct competitors really got their teeth kicked in. Now when you get a little bit of oxygen, and things have indeed picked up, you look around at the competitors, and they really have vacated the playing field. We're really running in an open field right now."
Hicks said that after years of investing in technology development, the company's Supply Chain Guru software is well positioned to continue attracting new clients.
"You keep working away at your technology and one day it's as good as you said it was, and one day it's better than you thought," he said. "At some point you really do have a leading solution."
File photo | AnnArbor.com
For that reason, the company is considering the prospect of seeking outside funding for the first time. Executives said they're open to having discussions with investors in the Ann Arbor region for a round of late-stage capital that will give the company runway to invest in more product development.
Brzoznowski said the company is proud that it avoided having to seek venture capital, as many of its competitors did. But he said that now is the appropriate time to seek small-scale financing of some sort. He said the company could probably finance its growth on its own but that some outside capital would make it easier.
Brzoznowski said the company plans to add software developers, people with software implementation experience, technical support workers and possibly more sales. That comes after Llamasoft recently expanded its marketing capacity, hiring a vice president for marketing, Myles Romero, to extend its sales reach.
"We have a backlog of customers that want to get started," Brzoznowski said. "We're having to hold them at arm's length while we continue to bring on resources."
A key reason for the company's success is the fact that its software helps clients manage all aspects of supply chain costs instead of individual pieces of it.
"When we put a solution together, something that allowed them to do that, it was new," Brzoznowski said. "It was two years ago. We came to a point where we realized we could compete head-to-head with any technology and we could beat them straight on."