As I have previously written in a blog post, Sage held its end user summit in Denver this week. It was a large meeting made to look a little small by the cavernous Colorado Convention Center but there were lots of well attended courses for all of the accounting and CRM packages the company rides herd on. There was also a good show floor, which I would equate with the Salesforce.com partner exhibitions.
In this last post on the Summit I want to focus on what I think is the key difference between Sage and its rivals. The company has done pretty well selling through a reseller channel that consists of many entrepreneurs each supporting one or more of the company’s accounting and CRM products. As you know, the company focuses on the SMB space but there is no small supply of customers that exceed that designation at the high end.
I was impressed by the number of people I met at the show who worked in the petrochemical industry and used Sage’s accounting and CRM applications. Maybe it’s me but I don’t usually associate SMB and petrochemicals or global presence and that says a lot about Sage and its partners.
It all came together for me at the first annual customer awards ceremony. Thirteen companies were recognized for excellence in a variety of categories–including the non-profit sector—for using Sage products. Two companies stand out in my mind.
Metrolina Greenhouses, Inc. of Huntsville, NC is 25 years old and grew from almost nothing. Today they employ 425 people with an additional 100 added for the busy spring and fall seasons. The company grows plants that are sold at home improvement stores from Maryland to Alabama.
MRP, ERP and EDI are the major applications that Sage supplies through partner, Practical Software Solutions. This operation is so big that it takes orders through EDI and needs MRP to help track and order things like pots and potting soil. But also, and I don’t understand all the nuts and bolts here, the company has to deal with issues like replenishment, tracking trucks and scheduling. It all used to be done with 200 MB spreadsheets but now it’s a real system integrated with
They say that in 1999 greenhouse and nursery-grown plants surpassed tobacco as the North Carolina’s biggest cash crop with sales now topping over $1 billion. I have no idea what Metrolina’s revenues are but this sure doesn’t look like a typical SMB to me. Congrats to them and to Practical Software.
Rex Moore Electrical Contractors and Engineers, Sacramento, CA, is really a great story. Four generations of the family have run the company dating back to the original Rex Moore who started the business in 1922 in his basement. At the inception the company did electrical maintenance but with a new generation and an electrical engineering degree, they broadened out to all phases of electrical construction and electrical engineering.
Beginning in 1980 the company computerized and it has stayed with the same product, Timberline, for all that time. It has used primarily back office applications to manage the books, create correct invoices and keep its overhead low. Most impressively the company has grown from $2.5 million to over $140 million in revenues in that time.
We tend to focus only on the biggest companies with the best PR departments and sexy products but there are a lot of stories like these all over the industry. They give credence to the notion that small business is the backbone of our economy and they should give inspiration to anyone with a dream of starting a business, regardless of the economic climate.
You can learn more about the Sage Customer Awards here.