Globe Trotting

Charles Jackson at Quadrem lets miners network.

FOUR CORNERS: Quadrem CEO Charles Jackson has brought the World Wide Web to the whole wide world.   
photography by Dan Sellers; globe by NASA

Six years ago, Charles Jackson went through a mid-life crisis.

“I was at that point in your career when you’re 40 or 41, and you think, ‘Well, do I do something crazy or not?’” he says. He decided to take a chance on a small start-up called Quadrem.

Quadrem—operationally based in Plano—was founded in 2000 by 14 mining and metal companies including Alcoa and De Beers, who were all in need of an easy way to streamline their supply chain. Their first problem was that much of the mining industry’s operations takes place in undeveloped parts of the world, rendering business transactions difficult. The second challenge was figuring out a way to incorporate the suppliers in these rural areas into the program. 

Quadrem’s solution was to create an online eMarketplace where buyers and suppliers all over the world could connect and do business more efficiently, thus opening the door to wider client bases and improving bottom lines. The benefits stretched to places like Johannesburg, South Africa, where companies were still using phones and fax machines to take orders and often didn’t have Web-capable computers available to them. Quadrem has since worked to set up Internet stations across such regions where business owners can check orders online.

“When most people build a global business, they start off in one place, perfect the solution, and then figure out how to export it,” says Jackson, who came to Quadram as COO but took over the CEO seat in March 2005. “We had to go global from day one.”

Quadrem has expanded their service to include industries like oil and gas, consumer goods, and more. With Jackson’s help, Quadrem has enlisted nearly 50,000 traders, trafficked $7.2 billion in goods and services through their eMarketplace in 2005 alone (with expectations of $13.3 billion this year), and reached profitability.

Mid-life crises can be great for business.

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