Point to point

Donald Hicks, founder, president and CEO, LLamasoft Inc.

Donald Hicks founded LLamasoft Inc. in 1998 to address a problem that had no solution. At the time, he was vice president of research and development at a major simulation company and was trying to teach customers how to build simulations of logistics networks so they could analyze and improve their businesses.

Noting how customers struggled to code models, Hicks realized that they needed a way to automatically generate logistics simulations from existing data sources without having to write code themselves. The company that Hicks worked for wasn’t interested in creating new products at the time, but he was able to negotiate a small amount of capital and license the work he’d been developing into LLamasoft, which he now heads as president and CEO.

After working alone as an engineer and hands-on software coder, Hicks created the Supply Chain Guru design software. At this point, in 1999, Hicks had a realization that changed the course of the company. With supply chain companies shying away from innovation in favor of consolidation, he decided to test the possibility of implementing a new optimization engine himself, directly in Supply Chain Guru. It was an innovation that changed the industry.

Realizing that this was a game changer, but also knowing that it wasn’t possible to simply challenge industry leaders such as IBM, i2 and Infor, Hicks took a huge gamble and sold his company to Crystallize Inc. A year later, Hicks left the management team to pursue a Ph.D. in bioinformatics at the University of Michigan.

While Hicks pursued a doctorate, Crystallize ran out of money and began laying off staff. With the company winding down, Hicks purchased the old code again.

Hicks and his co-founder resurrected LLamasoft and rolled out Supply Chain Guru version 2.0 in 2004, and the company has continued to grow every year since.

How to reach: LLamasoft Inc., (734) 418-3119 or www.llamasoft.com