Editor’s note: Each Tuesday, Local Tech Wire goes one-on-one with a leading figure in the high-tech sector. Ultimus represents that rare breed of technology companies: Totally bootstrapped in its financing, double-digit annual growth rates, profitable, and, “No thanks, we don’t need your venture capital money.”

The developer of workflow automation software didn’t take any VC cash in the tech heydays, and the privately held company has managed just fine without it.

While Ultimus survived 2001 — and even won more than 30 new customers in the fourth quarter — it found 2001 to be tougher sledding than previous years. The 85-person company failed to live up to its aggressive growth targets last year. That meant no all-expense-paid company vacation for all employees and their spouses, unlike the Disney World reward early last year for 2000 performance.

But co-founder Rashid Khan, who also is chief executive officer, is far from depressed.

You closed out 2001 by announcing 32 new customers, picking up the Company of the Year award from NCEITA (NC Electronics and Information Technology Association), and making the Deloitte & Touche Fast 500 national list of tech companies. How did you do it?

There’s a very simple reason. We have a focused strategy, and we stick with the strategy. We have a very good long-term vision. We persist at our strategy. And our success is not only in the U.S., but abroad.

Every company has been affected by the downturn. In many ways what is happening, with a recession and other crises, is that companies are reducing their expenses, but they still have to meet customers’ demands. Workflow automation helps them do that.

What about your business abroad — how many new countries did you enter in 2001?

Worldwide, we increased {revenues} about 50 percent last year. We acquired a company in Germany. We established a presence in Taiwan, also in Pakistan, and several other locations. About 55 percent of our business is in the U.S. and about 45 percent is global.

How does international business help you?

So much of our work is diversified by our global business. What is happening is that every organization is trying to compete in the global economy. We have an emerging role in Poland, for example. It might not be the first place companies look when they start to expand. But Poland is a large population, a growing economy, and their banks want to compete with banks in Europe. They have to have an efficient workflow to do it.

The advantage is that {companies in emerging countries} don’t have a legacy. When a company has no legacy at all, and they decide to go out and compete globally, they can do it. A U.S. company has difficulty because of legacy {systems}.

Why haven’t you gone after additional capital?

We had toyed with the idea of going with venture capital, but we thought, if we can continue with cash flow from customers, that’s the best way to grow your business. When you do that, you’re creating real value to your customers. If you have other financing, you’re creating value for financial investors.

Do you have any plans to go public, be acquired, or make acquisitions this year?

We’re not thinking about an IPO this year, for sure. We are getting inquiries from companies that want to be acquired by us, mostly smaller companies. But once you acquire someone, you lose your focus because you have to focus on the acquisition. If we acquire anybody, it will be a distribution channel, not a product. We are anticipating a lot of growth this year.

What is your growth target?

We always have a target of 100 percent growth. 2001 was a year when we didn’t grow as much as we had, but compared to the rest of the world, we grew very well. If we keep on delivering our products like we have been, we’re very optimistic about this year.

What reward would employees have received if you had met your 2001 goals?

The reward was to go to the Caribbean for a weekend. It was tied to a very high goal, and we didn’t get there. This year it’s a very high goal also, but we haven’t decided what the reward is.