FORT WORTH, Texas — Amid the hubbub of PDI’s recent users’ conference, one would not expect Greg Gilkerson to stop and reflect on the new threshold his software firm finds itself. Yet the president of the Temple, Texas-based, convenience-store technology company did just that, sitting with CSP Daily News last month to talk about the company’s recent management buyout and the launch of Enterprise 8, the latest and most transformative version of its software.
Though somewhat guarded, Gilkerson’s enthusiasm—as much as this soft-spoken, stoic individual can express at least—was evident. Here’s how that conversation went:
Q: We can start in any number of places, but the buzz around this conference is definitely Enterprise 8. What’s at the core of this version?
A: I hate to use the cliché, but it’s big data. Yes, people have been able to make computer-assisted ordering forecasts based on past sales, but it would only span six, maybe eight weeks. We’re now able to use three years of data and have documented evidence that those analytics are more accurate than ever before.
Q: What’s the secret?
A: It’s not so much that we created something new, but technologies over time have been getting better. That has allowed us to make the changes we’ve been working on.
Q: Alright, let’s talk about PDI/Enterprise 8. What can you tell me about it?
For us, it was a culmination of a number of ongoing projects all coming together under this version. You have to understand where it comes from. For the past few years in developing PDI/Enterprise 8, we were building software that worked with the original Enterprise and our legacy software. Over time, that became too complicated. Moving forward, we wanted a single infrastructure that supported all of our applications. What we’ve done with PDI/Enterprise 8 is to bring everything under one umbrella, while making the software simpler to use, yet much more powerful.
Q: That brings us to your recent buyback and how it positions you for growth. First, explain to us the deal.
A: We were owned by McLane Co. in Temple [Texas], which of course, is the premier c-store wholesaler. McLane was an amazing and supportive owner for 24 years, but when the management team was given the opportunity to buy the company back, we jumped at the chance. It all happened rather quickly so we were incredibly fortunate to find a financial partner like Luminate Capital. Luminate not only brought capital and industry expertise to the table, but they also gave the PDI team an opportunity to have a large stake in the new venture. It is a testimony to all involved that the deal was done in a very short timeframe. We became an independent company again on April 15 of this year.
Q: So where does that position PDI going forward?
A: With PDI/Enterprise 8, we were realizing our potential with the software platform. Now with the buyback, we have access to capital and of course, the technical and retail expertise to really grow. It could mean organically. It could also mean making acquisitions to compliment who we are and what we do best. With a solid platform, PDI can focus on new software or services that help our customer do business electronically or more intelligently or more economically. If a solution does that, we’re interested.