It was the culture as much as the business potential that drew Gary Nemmers to the CEO chair at manufacturing software provider IQMS Inc.
The company's location in central California has a unique small-town feel, he said. And it sits in a mid-market sweet spot that he prefers after having experienced larger operations in his career.
“I think I ran my course in working for a large organization,” he said, referring to his four-and-a-half-year stint at enterprise software firm Infor in the mid-2000s. “It's the only large organization I've ever worked for.”
In the late 1990s, Nemmers founded a small consulting company and enterprise software reseller (EPR VAR) with two partners, his own stake got 90 percent of the business. As CEO of the business, he said, “My first goal was to survive.”
The company did more than survive. It grew quickly, amid a prime market of U.S. telecom law overhaul and Y2K unease, becoming a $50+ million entity in less than four years, Nemmers said. When he sold the company in the early 2000s, that gave him some flexibility in choosing his next step.
“It provided me the tools to look at many different avenues of where I could go in my career,” he said.
The option he settled on was Infor, already a large firm and growing fast.
“I had been working around big enterprise software … for so many years, I thought, I wonder how it would be if I worked for one of those companies, in a senior executive role,” he said.
He worked at Infor four and a half years in the manufacturing software side, but by the end of his time there Nemmers was ready for a change.
“I realized that as much as I enjoyed working there … there were a lot things that I just had no control over. So that's frustrating when you come from the small, mid-market space, where you control almost everything if you're a CEO or COO of a company,” Nemmers said. “It's hard when you go upstream, and it was hard for me at Infor. I had to really put a different thinking cap on. So when it was time to leave, I only looked at mid-market opportunities.”
After a time at HighJump Software Inc., where he served as senior vice president and general manager, Nemmers in August came to IQMS.
IQMS both creates and sells ERP software for plastics processors and other industries. Nemmers said he enjoys working to improve manufacturing, and has respect for the scope of the industry.
“The customers we have at IQMS are part of that backbone of America that employ people and provide career opportunities for people and make wonderful products — from plastic bottle caps to medical devices to automotive parts — that go into everything that we use on a daily basis and we take it for granted,” he said.
With many companies looking at automation as the next step of their growth, he sees great growth potential in the market, and is looking toward increasing the firm's international reach.
Originally from the Chicago area, Nemmers is drawn to places with a “Midwest” feel, he said. He found that in IQMS's home of Paso Robles, located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, about 200 miles from either.
As a newcomer, he's enjoying getting to know the area.
“It's a lot of agriculture, horses and wine,” he said.
Nemmers is married with two daughters, 21 and 7, and four sons, 24, 23 and 13-year-old twins.
The family is involved in sports; one of the twins excels at baseball, the other at soccer, and his youngest is into competitive horseback riding. Nemmers is an avid road cyclist, though currently on hiatus as he recovers from a broken hip.
At the time of his interview with Plastics News, the family had been in central California for a month, and had been to the beach every weekend.
Nemmers said IQMS as a business also demonstrates the unique small-town feel of its locale.
“The culture itself is such that it feels very Midwest,” he said. “IQMS came up on my radar as an opportunity and it quickly moved up to No. 1. … I thought this [mid-market range] is where I belong, this is where I'm going to stay, this is where I'm very effective and this is where I can really make an impact and have some fun doing it.”