Upon seeing a childhood friend "make it" in the ice cream scooping business, 13-year-old
Don DeLoach became determined to make it himself. With seeds of ambition newly
planted, he landed a job busing tables at the local IHOP, where he aspired to become a
cook. This goal prompted him to come in on his days off to master the art of flipping
flapjacks, which he approached with an enthusiasm that has stuck with him through his
professional life. "I try and put more of myself into any job than I think people expect,"
For DeLoach, this work ethic has paid off handsomely. The one-time busboy is now
president and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based YOUcentric, an e-business relationship
management software company that is a recognized leader in the mass customization of
This position is only the latest step in a professional continuum that began at IHOP.
While attending Georgia Institute of Technology, and working towards his degree in
industrial and systems engineering, he worked at Southern Company at the age of 19.
After graduation, DeLoach went to work for Prime Computers in 1983. He has held
positions at Bull Information Systems working in sales and management, to vice
president of North America for Sybase. He joined YOUcentric in July 1999.
According to DeLoach, by customizing the applications of each YOUcentric
customer to meet specific business needs, his company "solves traditional problems in a
non-traditional way." He compares what he and his team do everyday to a software
industry version of David and Goliath. DeLoach predicts, with good reason, that like
David, YOUcentric will prevail against bigger competitors. "We are doing something I
think is important in positioning this company."
During the long working hours he and his staff put in, DeLoach encourages and
motivates his team members by telling them to take advantage of the opportunities
YOUcentric and the market have to offer, but not to lose sight of what is more important.
As it turns out, DeLoach practices what he preaches. He and his wife have seven
children, ranging in age from 2 to 20. Yet even with work and such a full house, he
somehow finds time to play the piano, the guitar and to read, his latest endeavor, Gore
Vidal's 1876. How does he do it all? "I start by having a phenomenal wife who allows
me the luxury of putting all of the time and energy one needs into a job like this." He also
keeps his priorities straight. Says DeLoach, "There is more to life than selling software."