Dan DeLapp feels like he has the perfect job in the perfect locale. Although that sounds a bit exaggerated, it’s actually an understatement, according to the life-long Seattle resident who became Tecplot’s head of software development about five years ago.
“There is no other place I would rather work than Tecplot. It’s as simple as that,” said Dan, a graduate of the University of Puget Sound. “I’ve been in software development for 32 years and have worked in many technical and management roles for small, medium and large companies. I like the size and mission of our company, and I love my role here. It’s a perfect fit for me.”
Dan said it’s the daily variety that keeps him fresh and charged. “I get the opportunity to work with a lot of different teams and projects, even outside of development,” he explained. “I sometimes miss being a developer, but I get to be involved with enough technical challenges every day to satisfy that urge. I also get to work with some truly talented engineers, and mentor our young developers. Plus, I really enjoy being a member of our senior management team and working with them to make Tecplot a great company. Every day is unique, exciting, and challenging — in a good way!”
When Dan isn’t busy leading the software development team, defining technical support processes, or helping establish corporate growth strategies, he carves out plenty of time to enjoy Washington’s natural beauty with his blended family. Dan and his wife of nearly five years, Monika, have five kids – two girls and three boys — between the ages of 11 and 20. The two oldest are out-of-the-house attending college, but that leaves three youngsters involved in everything from track, tennis and band to cross-country, drama and driver’s training.
When they’re not juggling all of the kid’s activities, Dan and Monika love to travel. “We are divers, so tropical vacations are our favorite,” Dan said. “Last summer, we got our youngest son dive-certified while we were in Roatan, so that was really cool.”
The summer months at home are also spent around water, making the Pacific Northwest — with its lakes, rivers and Puget Sound — ideal for this adventurous family. “Our favorite activities involve the water, whether it be power-boating, sailing, white-water rafting, or fishing. We enjoy just about anything where we can be on or near water,” Dan said.
And then there are the Seattle Seahawks. A quick glance around Dan’s fifth-story, heavily-windowed office reveals his love for the home team. “Monika and I are season ticket-holders. We attend all their home games and at least one road game each year,” Dan enthusiastically explained. “I’ve been a huge Hawks fan since the team’s very first game in 1976, so the on-field success they’ve brought to our city the past several years has been truly fantastic for me!”
For all its awesomeness, Dan admits his job is not without challenges. “Our technical support team reports to me, so I see the issues that come in from our customers,” he said. “And working with our product managers, I also see all of the customer requests for new or upgraded features. Nurturing, supporting, and making our customers happy is our number one goal. We want to make as many people happy as possible, so trying to prioritize all those requests is tough. Striving to deliver the most value to our customers, with the highest quality, as fast as possible, while keeping the team highly motivated, is perhaps the most challenging aspect of my job.”
But enough about challenges. Let’s get back to perfection. “I love interviewing job candidates because I get to explain, usually in a very animated and passionate way, how wonderful it is working here,” Dan said. “I tell people that the most rewarding aspects of my job are the people I work with and the products we build. And when I see or hear about how our customers are using our products to do really cool and innovative things, it’s a very rewarding feeling. Just this week, a candidate told me he wanted to work for a software company whose products were used by brilliant people to do very important things. I told him, ‘you just described Tecplot.’ That’s the reason I love working here!”
Of course, all this good cheer can only exist as long as Tecplot continues to innovate and thrive. In that regard, Dan sees limitless possibilities. “We’ve invested a lot of time and effort over the last few years on some very significant innovations,” he explained. “These include tremendous performance improvements with our SZL technology and dramatic UI enhancements for our flagship product, Tecplot 360 EX; and the ongoing evolution of our Tecplot Chorus and Tecplot RS products. When this innovation is supported by a new generation of Tecplot employees who bring fresh ideas and youthful energy, I think the sky’s the limit regarding the success we can realize over the next five to ten years. We may even feel like a start-up all over again, but there is one thing that I don’t believe will ever change — our core values. These were put in place 35 years ago by our founders, Mike Peery and Don Roberts, and they will be here 35 years from now.”