To my valued clients, prospective clients, vendors, business associates, alliance partners, et al. In this, soon to be my 18th year in this industry, I thought I would update you on two key items. The main key item is where MTSI is currently and where MTSI is heading over the years to come…and the second is a background of where we have come from that has lead us to the decisions for the future. I thought it fitting to start with the latter to begin with.
The Road Behind
With so many changes coming up in the years to come, I wanted to first give you some background on where we have come from which will paint a much better picture on where we are going in the coming years.
As many people know, my love for computers, and software programs in particular, came when I was in the United States Marine Corps from 1985 to 1990. As a computer programmer and technician, I became very familiar with software programs and networking. After leaving the Marines in 1990 to start in the civilian sector, my first job was at a company who was running the DOS based version of MAS90. Because of my vast experience with software and computers from the U.S. Marines, I ended up doing a lot of the work on their MAS 90 system. This was due in part to the lack of knowledge that their reseller had on reporting and import/export functionality, not to mention integration with CRM programs (in their case TeleMagic).
The Start of an Idea
After being involved with supporting MAS90, and given my computer software and networking experience, the proverbial light bulb went off and it dawned on me that I could offer superior support services on the product. So I became an independent contractor and started offering support services on the MAS 90 product.
Why So Much Poor Service
After being in the industry for a short time, I found that my previous employer wasn’t alone in receiving poor service from their MAS90 reseller. I found many companies that were having the same issue which allowed me to come in and take care of the client’s needs. Of course this worked greatly in my favor, however I felt very sorry for the companies that were having to endure the pain of poor support services from their previous reseller. Therefore, my goal was to provide world-class support services and quick response times which seemed to be the most critical complaints from clients I had spoken with. My goal at that time was not to be the biggest reseller in the country, but to be the best at what I was doing.
If you ever get the chance to read a great book, you should check out “Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead Of Big” by Bo Burlingham. Bo is a longtime Inc. Magazine editor-at-large and crafts a beautiful collage and analysis of companies that focus on being the best instead of growing like cancer into huge corporations. Over the coming years, which I will explain in The Road Ahead section, we will be getting “bigger.” However, I do not want that to come at the expense of being great at what we do.
MCG Is Born
In 1998, we reformed the company as Marshall Consulting Group, Inc. and moved from the suburbs of Chicago to downtown on Walton Street with a new vision…To grow the company. Albeit a simple vision, for the previous 7 years, we had simply been supporting our existing clients and hadn’t really concentrated on selling or marketing per se. Word of mouth advertising had generated a steady stream of clients. With Y2K just around the corner and the “impending doom” as predicted by the media, many clients needed to get Y2K complaint systems and as quickly as possible. We started hiring more employees, set up a training center and started marketing. Within 6 months, we had jumped 2 levels with Sage Software to their “Presidential” level and became the fastest growing partner for 1999. So, our “vision” which really was more of a goal than a vision, actually came to pass. Although we had more than tripled in size, our focus was still the same as before… to provide world-class service for our clients.
At that time, we were focused on only Sage Software ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) products being MAS 90, MAS 200, Acuity (which later became Best Enterprise Suite, then Sage Enterprise Suite, then MAS 500), BusinessWorks, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs being TeleMagic and ACT!
It is still funny to me that almost every person I speak to calls the ERP products “accounting software.” I believe most people picked that phrase up because they were on products before like the older versions of PeachTree or QuickBooks that only had accounting modules like General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. So when they upgraded to mid-market products like MAS90 and added modules like Inventory Management or Manufacturing modules, they just continued to call it “accounting software.” But as we all know, these mid-market products do much more than just accounting.
Although we could have added many different types of products, we chose to focus our company on products that would ensure business efficiency, productivity and profitability. ERP and CRM systems are required of any company that is looking to grow and expand, and to provide complete business management in the form of a software solution.
In 2001, MCG was acquired by another Sage partner and all of the MCG employees went to work with the other partner, including myself. By 2002, I decided it was time for a short 2 year vacation, a sabbatical if you will. I really hadn’t taken a real vacation in the previous 12 years, so it was about time.
My Other Passion
Although I don’t always admit it, I do have some other passions outside of ERP and CRM systems. So…I guess this is the part where you get to know Larry Marshall a little better on the “personal” level. While in high school and college, I performed in off-off Broadway musicals. Such plays as Annie Get Your Gun, The Pirates of Penzance, My Fair Lady, Carousel, etc. I also played piano, guitar, trumpet, trombone and french horn.
While stationed in Okinawa, Japan during my first 2 years in the Marines, I was able to travel to the Philippines on many occasions and studied to become fluent in Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines).
Now…You’re probably wondering what the 2nd paragraph above has to do with the first paragraph. Well, in 2000, as a part time hobby, I, Larry Marshall, started singing as the “front act” for artists from the Philippines that were having concerts in Chicago. The interesting fact here is that the songs I would sing were all in Tagalog. By 2001, word had gotten back to the Philippines about this “white guy” who can sing and speak fluent Tagalog (which there aren’t that many). So by 2002, I was offered a recording contract in the Philippines to produce an album in 100% Tagalog called Ikaw Ang Dahilan (You Are The Reason). The “tag name” I was given was known as KKPP – Katawang Kano Pusong Pinoy which means, American Body Filipino Heart. Since this was one of my passions in life, and something I had never had the chance to do, I decided to take my sabbatical to the Philippines.
MTSI Is Born
In 2004, after coming back to the States from the Philippines, I knew I wanted to get back up to speed on any changes that had taken place in the industry during the previous 2 years, so after contacting my friends at Sage Software they requested that I come to California for a while and work with some existing partners. In April of 2004, I started with BASE, the largest MAS500 reseller in the country at that time and by July; I started working with 2000Soft, a MAS90 reseller with an excellent reputation for customer support services. Being the entrepreneur that I am, I was itching to get back into the game full force and I informed Sage that I was looking for a good location to set up shop. In December 2004, I finally decided on Denver, Colorado as the new home and headquarters for MTSI. Almost as soon as I had made that decision, I was contacted by David Mak, one of my first employees at MCG. I brought on David as a partner in the company to manage our Chicago based operations and I focused on the Colorado operations. Within our first year as MTSI, we had already exceeded all of the previous achievements that were done by MCG. We now had 2 locations, started accepting all major credit cards, became one of the first resellers to offer 100% remote support services, and brought back on almost every client that we previously had as MCG, plus many more.
In the summer of 2006, I made a conscious decision that I wanted MTSI to be the “name” that any business would think of, that needed business management software solutions. So we brought on a full-time marketing person and joined the Sage Marketing Alliance Program. Through this process, we decided that MTSI needed a “face lift” to better define MTSI as a “brand” rather than just a Sage reseller.
What’s In a Name?
If I were to ask you, what is that little stick that has some cotton on each end and people use it to clean their ears? What would you say? Based on consumer research, over 90% of the people that read that would say Q-Tips™. That’s because Q-Tips™ took control of the “cotton swab” market by being the brand that everyone recognizes and talks about. The real answer to the above question should have been “cotton swabs” and not Q-Tips™. Why should it be any different when someone asks, where can I get ERP or CRM software from? Through our branding exercise and later our marketing plan, we decided that when anyone thinks of Sage resellers, or MAS90, MAS200, MAS500, etc. that we want them to think of MTSI as the go to company.
By November 2006, we invested over 40 hours creating our new marketing plan based on the re-branding guidelines we had come up with a few months earlier. At the conclusion, we had over 68 pages of material that we submitted to Sage as our marketing plan. It was interesting that of the 40 people that received it at Sage, only 4 read it in its entirety. As I was informed, most Sage resellers only developed a 1 to 4 page marketing plan and since it was so detailed, there wasn’t enough time for everyone to read it completely. The same will probably happen with this document for a lot of people, but I believe it is great information for the people that will receive it.
In March 2007, MTSI launched its new website at www.mtsisolutions.com . Our former website of www.marshalltechnology.com was very outdated and only contained about 10 pages of basic info. The new site came in at over 150 pages with interactive demos on our products.
By April 2007, MTSI opened new offices in Nashville and Orlando. By June of 2007, we had opened several other locations throughout Florida as well. I found myself flying back and forth from Colorado to Florida every month, so eventually I decided to make Florida my new home and to allow my employees to take care of the Colorado operations.
At the time we wrote the plan, MTSI was ranked around 128th in the country out of about 800 partners with Sage. One of the goals of our plan was to reach the top 20 partners within 1 year. I was told by many Sage executives that this was an “unreasonable” goal.
My Life as a Quote
So much of what I do now, and for what I have accomplished, has been related to how much I have applied one of my favorite quotes by George Bernard Shaw in Maxims for Revolutionists.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
The goal in our marketing plan, may have seemed “unreasonable” however, by implementing that plan, we grew to be ranked 15th in the country by October of 2007 representing a 406% jump at Sage and becoming a Platinum level business partner, all in less than one year.
In July 2007, we acquired J.A. Duboff and Associates, a MAS reseller out of Bradenton, Florida and his 70 clients.
In November 2007, we merged with Pro-active, a MAS reseller in Colorado with around 60 clients. The owners of Pro-active are now with MTSI as well.
In March 2008, we merged with Inivolve, one of the top SalesLogix and Sage CRM partners in the country with headquarters in Colorado, and with offices in various locations across the country. This also allowed us to bring on some additional products that you will hear more about in the coming weeks. These include VineyardSoft KnowledgeSync, SalesForce.com and PortalVantage.
With the addition of these acquisitions and mergers, MTSI now has 24 employees and over 300 clients across the country and around the globe. Over the past year, we have gained the trust of clients where there are no MTSI locations currently. We have clients in places like Boston, New Orleans, Montana, Oregon and even other places around the globe including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and as far away as the Philippines and Palau.
At The End of the Road Behind
I believe that pretty much sums up the previous years and brings us to June 2008 as of the writing of this document. Not to say that we haven’t had our share of disappointments or things that failed to work as expected. We did. However, when those arise, I have 3 words I learned while in the Marines that always work no matter the circumstance.
Adapt… Improvise…. Overcome
Now…on to the matter at hand. Where is MTSI heading in the future?… Yes, we’re not done yet… in fact we’re just getting started… Read more below…
The Road Ahead
With a key sense and understanding of where we’ve come from, 2008 marks the year for decision making on where exactly we are going as a company. In this section, I will define what plans we have moving forward.
One of the defining points of our growth over the last year was our vision to open additional offices around the country. This was a huge success which propelled our growth with Sage. Due to this success, and in keeping with our plans for the MTSI brand to be recognized around the country as the “go-to” company for ERP and CRM systems, we have decided to open additional locations to further grow the company. These are planned as follows:
• Q2 2008 – Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
• Q3 2008 – Arizona, Nevada, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri
• Q4 2008 – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan
We have chosen these states based on their proximity to our current locations. Part of these plans include adding employees at each of these locations, but initially to offer 100% remote support, installation, implementation, data conversion and training for these states. In 2009, we plan to add additional locations and hope to have a presence in all 50 states by the end of 2010. Where possible, we also plan to stay in “acquisition mode” and possibly acquire other resellers in the states we plan to move into, thus providing the employee base to support those clients.
Although it may sound like something from a comic book script… “He was bent on world domination,” it does actually apply to our plans. Since we already have clients in areas outside of the good ‘ole USA, it is fitting that we should set our sites on being recognized world-wide for ERP and CRM systems. In October of 2008, I’m planning a trip to the Philippines, no not to sing, but rather to set up our Southeast Asia hub in Manila that will facilitate sales and support of our products in that region. We have also begun discussions with other firms to handle things in other areas of the world including Europe.
For 2008, we have divided the company into 4 distinct divisions:
• ERP Division
• CRM Division
• Hardware/Networking Division
• Marketing/Public Relations Division
The ERP Division is headed up by Larry Marshall and David Mak for sales and support of ERP products.
The CRM Division is headed up by Richard Burrell for sales and support of CRM products.
The hardware/networking division is headed up by David Mak where we offer computer hardware and network upgrades, add-ons and support. This service is only available to our existing ERP and CRM customers. We are not targeting other companies for this service. Currently, roughly 30% of our existing clients use us not only for their ERP/CRM systems, but also to handle their computer hardware and networks.
The newly formed marketing and public relations division is headed up by Kaye Marshall for any type of marketing activity. This includes, but is not limited to, website design and development, marketing materials, advertisements, graphic design, logo creation, press releases, articles, etc. This service from MTSI is now available. If you are interested in obtaining information about the MTSI marketing services, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information on this valuable service for your company.
For the past 17 years, we have been a “Sage Select” partner, meaning we have only represented Sage Software products. In keeping with our plans to be the “go-to” company for ERP and CRM products, we have decided to drop our Sage Select status with Sage. We will continue to sell and support Sage products. In fact, we still plan to continue being one of the top 20 partners in the country for Sage products year after year.
There are a lot of great ERP and CRM systems out on the market today. One of the things I always tell a prospective client is… “It really doesn’t matter which product you choose as your ERP or CRM system. What matters is the company that will implement the product for you. You can have the greatest software on the planet, but if the company that implements it for you does a bad job, then you still have “broke” software. A GL, is a GL, is a GL. Other products may have a few features that Sage doesn’t have and vice versa. So the product isn’t as critical as the company who implements it is. Not to say the software program isn’t important. Some programs are a better fit for a company than other programs. But still, the company that will implement it is the most important value.
For years, it has always been “preached” that we are competing with certain products like Microsoft Dynamics or SAP Business One for example. But that really isn’t the case. We are competing with the reseller who happens to resell those products. In the world of action and negotiation, there is one principle that governs all others. The person who has more options has more power. At MTSI, we plan to capitalize on that statement by offering multiple product lines to be the “go-to” source for ERP and CRM programs by offering the top systems that companies are looking for.
In this light, we are looking at the following programs to offer to businesses. We may offer some or all of the following products. That is still in the “decision making” process.
• Microsoft Dynamics CRM
• Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains)
• Microsoft Dynamics NAV (Navision)
• Microsoft Dynamics SL (Solomon)
• Microsoft Dynamics AX (Axapta)
• SAP Business One
• QuickBooks Enterprise
To give you a brief overview of these products, I have summarized them below in case you weren’t familiar with them.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM (formerly Microsoft Business Solutions–CRM) is a full-featured customer relationship management solution that streamlines and automates sales, marketing, and service operations.
About Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics™ is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like and with familiar Microsoft software, automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship and supply chain processes in a way that helps you drive business success.
Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains) is a full-featured business management solution that streamlines and automates financial, manufacturing, and supply chain management.
Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Microsoft Navision) helps your growing midsize company integrate financial, manufacturing, distribution, customer relationship management, and e-commerce data. A complete and customizable business management solution, Microsoft Dynamics NAV is ideal for companies with unique business processes and specialized needs.
Microsoft Dynamics SL (formerly Microsoft Business Solutions—Solomon) is designed to meet the specific business management needs of project, service, and distribution-driven organizations, including companies in these industries:
• Professional services
• Computer and IT-related services
• Management consulting
• Engineering and Architecture
• Wholesale distribution
• General contracting
• Government contracting
Dynamics AX (Axapta)
Designed for mid-size and larger companies, Microsoft® Dynamics AX (formerly Microsoft Axapta) is a multilanguage, multicurrency enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. Its core strengths are in manufacturing and e-business, and it includes strong functionality for the wholesale and services industries.
NetSuite enables companies to manage all key business operations in a single, integrated system, which includes customer relationship management; order management and fulfillment; inventory management; finance; ecommerce and Web site management; and employee productivity. NetSuite is delivered as an on-demand service, so there is no hardware to procure; no large, up-front license fee; and no complex set-ups. Additionally, NetSuite enables you to make better, faster decisions through real-time business intelligence. NetSuite’s patent-pending “real-time dashboard” technology provides an easy-to-use view into role-specific business information that is always up-to-date.
QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions offers the most comprehensive business management tools for growing businesses with up to 20 simultaneous users. Enterprise Solutions allows you to customize any of the 120+ built-in Reports and forms to look the way you want.
SAP Business One
SAP Business One allows managers and employees to access and use information more effectively — so they can make smart business decisions. The comprehensive solution covers all the core operations necessary to run your business successfully, including:
• Business Administration
• Financial accounting
• Bank transactions
• Sales and distribution
• Outlook integration
• Customer Relationship Management
• Sales opportunity management
• Business partner management
• Service management
• Material requirements planning (MRP)
• Warehouse management
SYSPRO enterprise software is an integrated supply chain solution encompassing: ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), Analytics, E-Commerce, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and APS (Advanced Planning & Scheduling). The real-time, integrated approach makes the SYSPRO solution a firm foundation upon which to facilitate decision making at all levels, paving the way to profits.
Epicor Enterprise is a comprehensive end-to-end suite of proven industry-specific solutions for the global mid-market enterprise. From CRM and enterprise service automation to financial and supply chain management, Epicor provides adaptable and agile solutions for real-time enterprises. Epicor solutions are complemented by a full range of services, providing a single point of accountability promoting rapid return on investment and low total cost of ownership.
Epicor for Service Enterprises
Epicor for Service Enterprises is an industry-defining ESA solution designed expressly for mid-sized service organizations. It optimizes your business processes, empowering you to expand the value chain, grow revenue and drive efficiency benefits straight to the bottom line. Epicor for Service Enterprises enables you to respond quickly to the ever-changing demands facing your service organization. It manages and automates every aspect of your business-from bid management to engagement delivery and resource management to project accounting, portfolio management and beyond-all within a single solution.
Epicor Manufacturing is an easy-to-use, yet comprehensive solution that enables make-to-order manufacturers to make the most of their expanding resources. Because make-to-order manufacturing organizations have dynamic production requirements, Epicor Manufacturing provides particularly strong scheduling and online information access capabilities. Epicor Manufacturing’s graphical scheduling tools and “what if” simulation feature enable users to make realistic production schedules, execute them efficiently with the resources currently available, and react quickly and efficiently to schedule changes.
In conclusion, after reaching the “top of the food chain” with Sage, MTSI is now setting its sights on doing the same for some of the major mid-market ERP and CRM solutions to help businesses world-wide reach their greatest potential.
I realize this was a rather long document, but I hope you found the information herein beneficial. I would welcome any thoughts or questions that you may have. Please feel free to email me regarding The MTSI Road to email@example.com and I will be happy to reply to you.
Thanks for your time.