2021 marks both Procede Software’s 20th anniversary and my 10th anniversary as CEO of the company—a personal milestone that’s cause for reflection and gratitude. When the team asked me to write down some thoughts about the occasion, the first thing that came to mind was how incredibly lucky I am. It is my continued good fortune to be a part of this industry and to lead such an incredible, hardworking team.
The saying goes that “Luck is what happens when preparation and opportunity meet,” and that’s my firm belief. I came to Procede Software after running a number of other technology companies, but I was new to the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry. Fortunately, I was welcomed by two incredible groups of people: the then-small Procede team of 14 employees and our customers with many generations of experience who were all willing to share their expansive knowledge with me. Together, we leveraged our mutual expertise, embraced opportunity, and built on a strong foundation as we continued to develop Excede DMS, a complete business system for what I sensed was a historically underserved market.
Listening, Learning, and Understanding
One of the first things I did when I came to the Procede Software office was a lot of listening, learning, and understanding. I was excited to see who among the small team were ready to lead and champion the growth of the business. It turns out I was quite lucky—so many stepped up. Most are still with the company, and today many serve on our leadership team. I am grateful that they believed in the opportunity and came to trust in my leadership, all while sharing the goal of building something greater than ourselves.
The next thing I did was to get out on the road. In those initial months, my goal was to visit our customers in person and to listen, learn, and understand before developing any plans. It’s remarkable how what I heard in those early conversations has continued to inform the direction of the company, even today. Customers told me that other DMS providers didn’t keep their word—they overpromised and underdelivered—so we decided to keep our promises. They told me they were tired of being nickeled and dimed, so we decided to deliver the most value possible at a fair price, with no long-term contracts. And, they told me that relationships between the OEMs and the DMS providers were contentious, so we decided to do whatever it took to have healthy ones.
Once again, it all came back to opportunity meets preparation.
Growing Alongside Our Customers
A lot has happened in the past 10 years. The company has grown to over 120 employees, Excede DMS has evolved, along with all our services, and our customer base has expanded considerably. Still, I’ll admit those early years were tough. We had to pay back years of technical debt, re-strengthen healthy relationships with our customers, and create new departments, all while expanding our platform and growing our team. But we believed in the bigger vision, so we kept our heads down and stayed focused. Each year, we created a plan to grow organically by reinvesting every penny back into our business. We also listened to our customers as they told us what they needed, and we continued to build on our robust technology platform to serve them better. And, even though a few promises took longer than expected to achieve, we still delivered in the end.
Over time, we began to find our footing as we continued to develop our platform into the award-winning dealer management solution it is today. I soon learned that the founders’ initial decision to partner with Microsoft 20 years ago and build the Dealer Management System on a SQL Server database architecture was a sound one. Today, Excede DMS remains powerful, scalable, and as reliable as ever.
As we grew, we learned that it was essential to have the right people in each area of the business, so we were agile, moving team members into new roles until we found the best fit; I like to call it ‘the right seat’ on the Procede bus. As the right people moved into the right places, they grew their knowledge of the industry and business and developed their leadership skills. With each transition, our service offerings grew, too, eventually evolving into the comprehensive programs they are today—Support Services, Customer Success, Professional Services, Education and Training, and of course, our Excede Insider and Certified Partner programs.
It’s been a great way to grow a team and business—I wouldn’t change any of it.
Stronger than Ever Growth
As we reinvested in our business and built relationships with our customers, we were heartened to see our customers reinvest in us as well. Perhaps we didn’t yet have all the functionality they needed, but they recognized we were in it for the long haul. They doubled down on us and we both strengthened the Excede DMS platform to benefit everyone in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle industry. We didn’t always get things right—we’re not perfect, and we’ve made mistakes along the way. Each time we stumbled, we put the customer first and embraced the opportunity to learn and grow.
As we’ve continued to grow, we’ve built strong relationships with incredible people throughout the heavy-duty trucking industry. Some of these individuals have gone on to take new roles at other dealerships, helping their new companies to grow with the adoption of Excede DMS. As I look ahead and think about ancillary markets beyond truck dealerships—trailer, bus, aftermarket dealers and distributors—I believe that the opportunity is there for us to learn from them and help them grow their businesses as well, just as we have done with truck dealerships.
The Most Important Milestones Are Ahead of Us
Ten years in, I understand more clearly than ever that our work is never done! The industry and technology are changing, and tomorrow is going to be different, so we have to continue to evolve to meet our customers’ and the industry’s needs. I’m excited by our momentum and what we can do together to drive our industry forward.
One of the first lessons I learned when I joined Procede is that relationships are the heart of this industry. They’re also what I value most about being a part of it. With that in mind, I want to take a moment to say how much the relationships I’ve built mean to me. To the Partners, thank you for believing in our vision, continuing to invest in the company, and supporting me along the way. To our leadership team and employees, I am blessed to work alongside you—thank you for everything you do. To our customers, thank you for sharing your knowledge and trusting us with your business. We don’t take this responsibility lightly, and we are here because of you.
While I suppose Procede’s 20th anniversary and my own 10-year anniversary are milestones to be proud of, I believe the most important milestones are ahead of us. There is still so much more to be done. I am looking forward to working with the growing Procede team, our leadership team, our incredible customers, and our valued OEM, Certified and Alliance Partners to solve our industry’s greatest problems and continue to grow our ecosystem together.
Hand-in-hand, we will work together to make our own luck as the opportunities continue to unfold. Here’s to the next 10 years!