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Longtime T2 Systems CEO stepping down

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The CEO and co-founder of Indianapolis-based software developer T2 Systems Inc. will step down effective Oct. 7 after 19 years running the firm, the company announced Tuesday afternoon.

Mike Simmons, who began the company with business partner Steve Howard in 1994, will keep his ties to T2 in a less hands-on role as its chairman.

Overseeing day-to-day operations as CEO will be David Sparks, who has left a post as executive vice president for TransCore LP, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based transportation software developer he co-founded.

Simmons, 50, who earned an engineering degree from Purdue University and sold software for IBM before starting T2, said he decided to hand over the reins because he realized he lacked the experience to keep growing the company.

“I’ve put all I’ve got into this company,” he said. “It was getting to the point that I wasn’t sure if I was the right guy. … As we begin to look at scaling the business, I don’t have a lot of experience with that.”

Simmons steered T2 through the dot-com bust in the early 2000s and the Great Recession that began in 2008.

Revenue grew roughly 20 percent per year over the past several years.

The company stopped reporting its revenue after it took on outside investors. A listing in Inc. magazine said T2 had $20.5 million in revenue in 2010, up from $12.4 in 2007.

Last year, T2 secured a $28 million investment from Pamlico Capital in Charlotte, N.C., setting itself up for a series of acquisitions.

Some of the growth has also fallen short in recent years. T2 fell under the city’s scrutiny earlier this year because it fell short of hiring and investment goals it made to receive a city tax abatement in 2007. The company has about 140 workers, including about 75 in Indianapolis.

Simmons said Sparks, 53, was better suited to oversee some of the acquisition plans and other growth strategies.

Sparks’ TransCore develops software for toll systems and other areas of transportation. Roper Industries, headquartered in Sarasota, Fla., bought TransCore for $600 million in 2004.

He has also served as a director of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America and chairman of its strategic planning committee. He has a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Texas A&M University.

Sparks was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Simmons said he intends to work day-to-day at T2 through the end of the year as he helps Sparks acclimate to the new job. They plan to travel the country to meet with customers to answer questions about the change.

“When you have a change like this, there can be some concern from customers and employees,” he said. “For me, this is the best of both worlds. I get to be involved with [T2] in some meaningful way, but we’re bringing someone in with significantly more experience. My hope is that our customers will see that.”

Once Jan. 1 comes, Simmons plans to take a year off to “relax and refocus.”

“I haven’t had the opportunity to do it in the past 20 years,” he said.

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