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February 26, 2012 | Tom Ballard

Cadre5 software may have helped you avoid a flight delay

Have you ever been sitting in an airport waiting area wondering why the flight is delayed when the airplane is parked at the gate? If you’re a “road warrior,” you no doubt have experienced this inconvenience at least a few times in your travels.

Coordinating crews is not an easy task, particularly in a broad network with multiple crew bases. The task has become easier for at least one airline that has a large presence at McGhee Tyson Airport thanks to Cadre5, a local company specializing in bringing integrated solutions to its customers.

The company located in West Knoxville was founded in 1999 by five individuals. Three of those founding partners remain – Steve Hicks, President and CEO, and Senior Partners Ken Lowery and Chris O’Neal.

During a recent interview with, Hicks related the story of how the crew scheduling software allowed the airline to “dynamically put together” crews for 29 flights in a compact time frame without any flight departing late. It was just one example of how the company responds to complex needs of its customers. He said that

“We started as an internet company, helping Scripps develop large web sites that were database driven,” Hicks said. “We have not changed from how we started as to focus and approach,” Lowery added. “Software is our business.”

They estimate that probably 60 percent of their business is government-related and more than one-half of their customers are in the local region although Cadre5 has a “portfolio management tool used in 100 countries,” Lowery said. “It (the tool) integrates easily into existing financial management systems and project management tools” that clients might be using.

Lowery said that users of existing portfolio management tools tag milestones they want to follow. The Cadre5 system tracks costs against milestones and even allows the users to view the data through a geospatial viewer.

“In times of cutbacks, our tool allows our customers to account for dollars spent and track results,” Lowery said.

Cadre5 has a rich mix of governmental customers, such as the Pentagon, as well as national and international companies. As already noted, Scripps was an early customer and success story soon after Cadre5’s launch in 1999.

The company won a contract in early 2000 to help Scripps develop a content management system that was later deployed to the television and newspaper divisions.

“We used a blended team of Cadre5 and Scripps personnel on that project,” Lowery said. Prior to helping found Cadre5, he was a founding partner of Square Ware, a company that “put a content management tool in the hands of reporters.”

Hicks said that the Cadre5 approach is to truly “understand what our customers want and need. They have pain in a particular area and cannot use an off-the-shelf application.”

Lowery added that “every commercial product involves large, complex databases.” That’s where Cadre5’s team of software engineers is best.

He described a BlackBerry solution that was designed to schedule, manage and run conference calls for a customer as an example of Cadre5’s “customized apps for mobile devices.”

“We have the expertise to do the heavy lifting on the back side to develop really powerful applications,” he added.

Both Hicks and Lowery like their Knoxville base. The company has 25 engineers with more than one-half of them having master’s degrees in computer science or engineering.

“We get the top graduates out of the (local) universities and train them in our ways of developing software,” Hicks said. “We have had good luck in the local market.”

“We don’t recruit much outside the local market,” Lowery said, adding that Cadre5 has benefitted from “people wanting to return home.”

“We are big supporters of the coop program with UT,” he said. “We get to train them for two years.”

The three remaining founders complement each other. In his role as CEO, Hicks handles administration, legal, sales and a significant portion of business development. Lowery and O’Neal oversee projects as well as doing some business development.

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