Omnitracs seeks to build on Qualcomm legacy while parting ways

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Updated Aug 6, 2014

On Tuesday, July 29, John Graham, David Post and other executives of Omnitracs met to prioritize investment strategies and create a budget for 2015. None of the decisions made this or any other day will be approved by Qualcomm.

Graham, the chief executive, and Post, the president and chief operating officer, do not answer to Qualcomm nor do any employees at the new Omnitracs.

Omnitracs was Qualcomm’s first product, launched in 1988, which forged its legacy as the pioneer of long-distance mobile communications in the trucking industry. In early 2013, Omnitracs became the new name for Qualcomm’s mobile fleet software business subsidiary, formerly Qualcomm Enterprise Services. Qualcomm changed the name after it had decided to sell the property and focus on its high-growth microchip business.

CLICK HERE to view a photo gallery of important changes taking place at Omnitracs.CLICK HERE to view a photo gallery of important changes taking place at Omnitracs.

In November, 2013, Vista Equity Partners bought Omnitracs for $800 million. Vista, a private equity firm, has a reputation for continuing to invest in companies after buying them. Indeed, the next month it acquired Roadnet Technologies to expand the Omnitracs portfolio.

Roadnet develops route planning software for private and dedicated fleets.

“That was a great signal to employees that it is a new day for Omnitracs,” said Graham of the acquisition of Roadnet. “We are here to play to win and grow in the market.”


New leadership

Omnitracs, under new ownership for the past eight months, did not break free from Qualcomm overnight. It leased the same office in San Diego from Qualcomm as it started working to move its data centers to a new location, Las Vegas. Meanwhile, the former management team started an exodus, including Norm Ellis from sales and marketing, Vikas Jain from product management and Andy Deninger from engineering.

“People need to make life decisions,” Graham said. “In any acquisition there is going to be some amount of change.”

From a customer’s perspective, the management exodus from Omnitracs looks bad, said John Elliot, president of Load One, a full-service expedited, truckload and specialized hauler based in Taylor, Mich.

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“But then again, new blood often does good things,” he added. Elliott said Load One has not yet seen a direct impact from the new ownership or management team. Load One uses the latest in-cab hardware and mobile computing applications from Omnitracs.

“I think it is still pretty early in the process but I am sure change is coming,” Elliott said.

One of the positives from all of the change has been the opportunity to promote employees to new positions within the company, Graham said. Omnitracs has also hired 100 people since last December, counting the new employees it brought over from RoadNet.

For Graham, the opportunity to be the new CEO of Omnitracs sounded “interesting and exciting” when Vista contacted him last year. He looked forward to renewing the energy he had experienced previously while working in transportation and logistics. Graham has 10 years’ experience as a naval officer working in defense logistics and 20 years working for software companies that provide mission-critical systems for businesses.

David Post worked for Vista as an operating executive for several other software investments. Most recently he was the CEO of MRI Software in the property management and real estate industry.

For him, Omnitracs was an opportunity to “expand my horizons and work for a larger, more complex organization,” he said. Since joining the company, he has been involved in making hiring decisions.

“What we’ve tried to do is create a diversity of thought and experience,” he said. “We kept a lot of the legacy talent with deep transportation knowledge and experience, and added diversity of thought along with other types of talents and different perspectives.”


Farewell San Diego

Besides staffing changes, perhaps the biggest change for Omnitracs will be its new location. The company recently announced that Dallas will become its new headquarters starting early next year.

The move makes sense for logistical reasons, explained Graham. First, employees will be closer to customers. Currently, 90 percent of its employees are in Southern California but 90 percent of its customers are east of the Rockies. Ten of its top 50 customers are within a four-hour drive of Dallas.

Dallas is also a better location to run a multi-national business, he said. Omnitracs has a major presence in Brazil and Canada.

Another visible change is the decision to combine all Omnitracs’ user conferences into a single event to be held in February, 2015, in Dallas. Omnitracs’ business groups include Sylectus, FleetRisk Advisors and RoadNet.

Important decisions are also being made about the company’s product strategy, Post said. The company will continue to focus on developing software to meet safety, compliance, driver productivity and retention needs of fleets but will increasingly focus on business intelligence and data analytics.

Omnitracs plans to more fully integrate the products and technologies from its different business units. Sylectus provides a web-based load exchange and transportation management system. FleetRisk provides an advanced predictive analytics platform for driver safety and retention.

“We spent a lot of time the last couple of quarters getting our product and engineering teams together. This was the first time they have ever met,” said Graham concerning the employees from the different business units. “A lot of dialogue was not happening to the level that was needed.”

Omnitracs’ mobile computing platforms are currently installed on over 300,000 trucks and RoadNet technology routes more than 300,000 vehicles. A realistic goal for Omnitracs, he said, is for its customers to be managing more than one million assets using its products. Its growth will no longer be inhibited by competing for investment dollars against a highly successful microchip business.

“We are very excited about the opportunity,” he said.

In case you missed it, click here to view a photo gallery of important changes taking place at Omnitracs