CARYDude Solutions leads with women.

Yes, that’s right.

The Cary-based firm with the quirky name, which is a software-as-a-service provider (SaaS) of operations management solutions, currently has more females on its executive team than males.

Its current ratio now stands at 4-3, in favor of women in executive ranks.

“It’s really unusual, period, and especially in tech,” says Harrell, who has worked previously in senior marketing roles for Cary’s PrecisionLender and Citrix ShareFile. “It’s the most female executive leadership team in my career.”

But Ed Roshitsh, CEO of Dude Solutions, emphasizes it was not by design. “These are two great leaders that were available [at that particular snapshot in time]. We get the best talent that we can find.”

Dude Solutions full leadership team …
Lee Prevost (Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder), Karen Waggener, Tom Knox (Chief Revenue Officer), Catherine Harrell, Ed Roshitsh, Jodi McDermott, Pam Rose, Steve Shillingsburg (SVP of Product Engineering). Source: Dude Solutions.

There’s no reason to believe otherwise. He needs his A-team. On the eve of the company’s 20th anniversary, the company is poised for some record-setting growth.

In 2018, the company achieved a significant milestone – surpassing $100 million in annual revenue. It’s also made several acquisitions over the years, most recently acquiring Poulsbo Washington-based Paladin Data Systems, which provides software for local government.

It’s growing at an astonishing clip – at around 25 percent per year, says Roshitsh.

“We’re projecting that to accelerate over the next five years. Over 12,000 organizations rely on our software, and we’re on track to add an additional 2,000 clients to our roster in 2019. Not only are we growing at an impressive pace, we’re thriving.”

Record-setting growth = more jobs in Cary

By all accounts, Dude Solutions is one of Cary’s little-known big success stories. Like ”the Dude” in The Big Lebowski, the firm apparently likes to keep a low profile.

It all started back in 1999 as SchoolDude, when founders Lee Prevost and Kent Hudson started providing SaaS solutions to manage K-12 school facilities.

They quickly disrupted the market.

“We’re the only pure software as a service provider in our industry,” says Roshitsh. “Not having to put a computer system up in your facility, getting up everything into the cloud. It’s a story that resonates with people. We have a wide and deep moat of solutions.”

Dude Solutions Catherine Harrell and Ed Roshitsh at their Cary office.

As for the unique name, corporate lore has it that the founders picked it because they wanted something short and memorable. The also liked the idea that in every building, “there’s some dude fixing something.”

“Dude is somewhat ubiquitous now. Females don’t care; males don’t care. It’s just dude,” say Roshitsh when the name issue comes up. “A couple of years ago, we spent a ton of money into [asking], ‘Hey, is this name still relevant?’ The marketing firm that we partnered up with said it would be the dumbest thing you ever did if you changed that name. ”

So the name stuck, and it seemed to be good advice. The firm continues to thrive.

In the last four years, it has made five acquisitions, expanding its footprint into other industries — including government, healthcare, senior living and manufacturing. It has three other offices outside of Cary; one in Seattle, Wash., another in Grand Junction, Colorado and a third in Toronto, Canada.

The firm boasts 650 employees nationwide, and is gearing up to hire another 125 personnel over the next 12-18 months.

“When you’re growing the whole thing 25-30 percent — from 12,000 clients to probably 20,000 in the next three or five years — the whole lake has to rise,” says Roshitsh.

Cultivating a ‘cool’ work culture

Of course, Dude Solutions still wants to be cool. Given the tight labor market, it’s all about creating a dynamic work culture, says Roshitsh.

To that end, the firm recently rolled out a flexible work-from-home program that allows employees to work virtually from anywhere. It also introduced unlimited paid time off for all employees, and three months paid maternity and paternity leave.

“I’m trying to attract fully formed adults that are expecting to be treated as [such]. To be competitive in the fistfight that we’re in for talent, you have to be able to offer culture values that attract the top talent.”

But ultimately, he says, people are also drawn to the mission-oriented software.

“Our software isn’t driverless cars or robots. What we’ve really built here is a group of people that are really jazzed up about our end client. There are 52 million kids in K-12 across the US, and our software is touching 32 million of those kids. People can get their heads around whether clicking on a keyboard or selling software, I‘m helping kids stay safe and warm with this software. It’s what drives a lot of people.”

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