URC Profile

James Anderson

Company: Urban Science
Year started: 1977
Industry: Automotive Retail Consulting
Offices: United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, China, Russia, Thailand, Australia
Headquarters: Detroit, MI
Activity: Retail sales network consulting and software solutions to help evaluate, structure and manage dealer networks and marketing programs.
Annual Revenue: $175 million
Employees: About 750 (350 at headquarters, 400 around the world)
Attended: Wayne State University
Degree: B.S., Civil Engineering, 1966; M.S., Civil Engineering, 1970
Company website: urbanscience.com

“Just tell us what can’t be done. We’ll find a way to do it.”

A serial problem-solver, James Anderson has earned an impressive track record for finding solutions to problems that others deem “unsolvable.” He pioneered computer mapping in the 1970s and was the first to print color images from a computer screen using laser technology.

It was out of the need to plot environmental pollutants while working on his master’s degree in civil engineering at Wayne State University that Anderson developed the world’s first computer mapping technology. But it wasn’t until a chance encounter when he was working as a faculty member that he decided to take the technology out of the lab and into the marketplace.

At the time, Cadillac was trying to map all of its 37,000 customers in the Chicago area by manually sticking “dots” on a map. One of the company’s new employees, a WSU graduate familiar with Anderson’s technology, told Cadillac that there was another way it could be done. After being contacted by Cadillac, Anderson in 1977 founded Urban Science, an automotive retail consulting business. Cadillac was its first client.

His technology allows companies to measure their performance in the marketplace and determine how it can be better managed through mathematics and data—a concept that he was exposed to through his minor in Operations Research (new at the time) that he then applied to Sales and Marketing.

Today, Urban Science employs approximately 750 people and provides analysis for nearly every major automotive manufacturer in the world. The company has grown to $175 million in annual revenue with continual year over year growth. It is on track to earn $1 billion in revenue within the next 12 years.

Always looking for the next problem

Anderson is driven by a vision that combines science and technology with an entrepreneurial spirit. He wants to make the world a better place while creating economic opportunities for innovators. He strongly believes in what Henry Ford was quoted as saying, that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Believing that there is no barrier that can’t be overcome if one is committed, Anderson is always looking for the next problem needing to be solved and to expand his business into other industries. He has also made significant contributions to Wayne State University’s College of Engineering to create programs that will help develop and foster future engineering entrepreneurs, such as the Edge Engineering Entrepreneurship Certificate Program.