When asking Info Tech’s Senior Vice President why the 2012 Cade Museum Prize Night presenting sponsor came back on board for the 2013 Prize Night, Tom Rothrock’s excitement and enthusiasm is unmistakable.
“Info Tech supports what the Cade Museum Prize is about at its core – recognizing and helping start-up companies that will become the next big success stories to enrich our communities, employ our citizens and improve the quality of life for future generations.”
In existence since 2010, the Cade Museum Prize, created and administered by the Cade Museum, is designed to encourage creativity and invention by providing an incentive ($50,000 provided by the North Florida Community Foundation) for early-stage companies in Florida to move new ideas and products closer to the marketplace.
The Cade Museum Prize has drawn hundreds of entries from around the state, providing an excellent cross-section of Florida’s researchers, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers. Judges look at how creative the idea is, what could change as a result of the invention and how far away the invention is from market.
You don’t need to tell Info Tech owners what a little help from the community can do for a start-up, or what an incredible town Gainesville is for innovation and entrepreneurship. What is considered by most to be a relatively new identity for our community was in fact the foundation upon which Info Tech created its leading statistical and econometric consulting services industry in 1977, before many of the current employees were even born.
“It’s been amazing to see the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit blossom in Gainesville in recent years. We saw the spark 35 years ago, and we knew this was an intelligent community with untapped resources,” Rothrock said. “We knew we could raise our families here and grow a successful business. I guess you could say we were a bit ahead of the curve. Now, the rest of the technology community is seeing what we have known for so long, and it will be exciting to continue to participate in the growth of the tech sector in this market. The resources are abundant and the knowledge base is here.”
While teaching statistics at the University of Florida, Info Tech founder, Dr. James T. McClave, was also becoming the quintessential inventor tinkering in his garage in his northwest Gainesville home. His original idea, to use statistical analysis to solve real-world problems, aligns with the genesis of so many great inventions and innovations: See a problem? Design a way to fix it.
In a short time, McClave assembled a small team to write textbooks and provide a growing need for litigation support. McClave joined forces with Rothrock and the two were soon developing a system to fix a problem that Florida was confronting—how to detect evidence of bid rigging in state highway contracts. The two created a computerized method to detect collusion in sealed bid markets, which resulted in a then-record settlement of $29 million for the state. They both knew they were on to something big.
Soon after, Info Tech sold a bid analysis program to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), an oversight organization for state transportation agencies. This initiated a long-term relationship of Info Tech developing software and services for state transportation agencies. Currently, 42 of the 50 U.S. state transportation agencies use Info Tech-developed software.
Rothrock thinks back to the early days of Info Tech and taking that leap of faith, “I could have stayed in academics but the challenges and rewards of a start-up company were too enticing. The Cade Museum Prize cultivates our entrepreneurs—recognizing
and rewarding the drive to build a company. I like to think we would have been a contender for the Prize.”
Info Tech is now organized into two divisions: consulting and systems. The consulting division continues to provide statistical and econometric consulting services in a wide variety of specialties, including antitrust, employment/labor discrimination, biostatistics/epidemiology/environmental analysis, business valuation and economic damages, healthcare fraud and more. The systems division provides software and services to assist in infrastructure construction management. The software covers the entire life cycle of infrastructure construction—from estimation, proposal development, bidding, project award, construction administration and data archival.
Info Tech now employs more than 230 professionals. The company maintains a quiet presence in its headquarters, located in the Florida Farm Bureau building, along with a regional office in Atlanta and additional employees around the U.S.
“I am proud of what we have built, and even more proud that we have sustained a culture of treating employees and customers like family,” McClave said. “We don’t focus on just the revenue and income. They’re important, but they’re really just derivative from treating the customers and employees like family.”
The 2013 Cade Museum Prize Night, which takes place the evening of Thursday, May 9, is an event to celebrate the results of the annual competition. This creative and fun reception consists of table-top displays by the 16 finalists, on-stage presentations of the final four and the announcement of the Cade Museum Prize winner, along with a number of surprises throughout the night. Cade Museum Prize Night is an exciting, interactive event that draws a number of local businesses, start-ups, media outlets, venture capitalists, angel investors, and innovators and educators from around the state.
“Over the years, I have enjoyed meeting the Cade prize finalists, and I am genuinely impressed with their technologies,” Rothrock said. “I wish the best of luck to all of them; they are all winners. Info Tech is proud to be a part of this special program.”