Karl Lopker, CEO at QAD (Image credit QAD.com)
Karl Lopker, CEO at QAD

With great sadness QAD has announced the death of Karl Lopker, CEO aged 66 after a thirteen year battle with prostate cancer on August 25th. The news came less than two weeks after Lopker took an indefinite leave of absence on medical grounds on August 15th.

Lopker founded Deckers Outdoor Corporation with Doug Otto in 1973. On a hunt for software to run the company he helped Pam Meyer write the software to help run his business. That software was MFG/PRO. It was one of the first manufacturing software programs to run on UNIX. In 1979 QAD was set up to help other manufacturers who faced similar challenges. In 1982 Karl sold his shares in Decker and joined QAD as CEO. After 39 years working at the firm, 36 of which as CEO, it is a huge loss to the business.

Peter R. van Cuylenburg, QAD’s Chairman of the Board commented: “This is a profound loss for Karl’s family and for the entire QAD community. Karl has been a guiding light for nearly four decades and will be greatly missed. During his time at QAD, Karl helped build and develop an outstanding team that is continuing his steadfast commitment to providing global manufacturers with tools to help them become Effective Enterprises. All of us on the Board of Directors have greatly enjoyed working with Karl for many years.”

Life and times

Karl Francis Lopker was born on December 19 1951. He grew up in California attending Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and Don Bosco Tech High School. He studied electrical engineering at UCSB. To support himself he started making leather purses and sandals, selling them on the beach and at craft fairs. By 1973 he had set up the manufacturing company that would later become Decker Outdoor Corporation with Doug Otto. With the creation of QAD in 1979 his focus shifted slowly towards the Manufacturing ERP company. Karl married Pam in 1981 and later had two children Karl Bo and Juliana Lynn.

QAD became one of the leading manufacturing ERP vendors in the market. It now has more than 1,900 employees and is used by companies in more than 100 countries. In 2018 it reported revenues of $305 million. In 1997 it began trading as of its IPO and has not looked backed. Karl Lopker, along with his wife has led the company through some tough times. Ironically the share price is now at its highest ever, closing on 25th August at $58.90. 2018 was the first year that it climbed above its IPO price of $42.

What does this mean

For Manufacturing ERP it is a loss of someone who helped to found the industry. When one considers that Oracle was founded in 1977, Baan in 1978 and QAD in 1979, one begins to realise the impact that QAD has had on the ERP market. Lopker has been in the ERP industry since its founding and has led the company throughout that time.

For QAD it is the end of an era but the start of another. The transition management in place includes Ms Pam Lopker, Karl Lopker’s widow who took up his management responsibilities after August 15th.  In a poignant last message Lopker commented: ”I have complete confidence that our executive management team will continue to do their normal outstanding job executing our plans while I am on leave.” 

QAD will now begin the hunt for a new CEO. That appointment will take time. The industry is evolving rapidly. With QAD aiming to be at the forefront of the ERP replacements in Manufacturing that are already happening, it cannot hesitate for too long.



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