Published on 03-Nov-2009
Validated on 01 Nov 2012
"“ Staying with IBM and J.D. Edwards over the long haul has been good for us. It’s been bulletproof – we know it’s going to work.” " - David Bryant, vice president and CFO, Maxco Supply, Inc.
Maxco Supply Inc
Wholesale Distribution & Services
IBM Business Partner:
The right tools for the job Maxco Supply, Inc. is based in the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of California’s agricultural belt. For more than 30 years, the company has been making fruit boxes and packing supplies for local growers, including custom boxes for the shipping and display of tree fruit, table grapes and strawberries, along with box-erecting equipment.
ChallengeMaxco Supply, Inc. (Maxco) needed a reliable, easy-to-manage enterprise solution that could support its operations while growing with the company over time in a consistent, logical manner.
IBM and IBM Business Partner Wired Integrations teamed to deploy System i® and IBM System x® servers running the Oracle J.D. Edwards World enterprise suite, along with a Lotus® collaboration platform. The system, facilitated by IBM Global Financing Services, is the latest iteration of nearly 15 years of continuous IBM and J.D. Edwards use at Maxco.
• Reduced IT staffing requirements have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars • Clear technology upgrade path enables scalability while leveraging in-house IT skills • Longstanding relationship with IBM and Wired Integrations provides Maxco personalized service to best target its needs
The right tools for the job
Maxco Supply, Inc. is based in the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of California’s agricultural belt. For more than 30 years, the company has been making fruit boxes and packing supplies for local growers, including custom boxes for the shipping and display of tree fruit, table grapes and strawberries, along with box-erecting equipment.
David Bryant, vice president and CFO, says that when it comes to technology, Maxco exemplifies many midsize businesses. "Our story is simple," he says. "To us, the technology is not an end unto itself. We’re not against the adoption of new technology by any means, but we do have a philosophy here of what we want it to do for us, and that is support our business in the most reliable, simplest way possible. What we need is the right tool for the job."
This conservative approach to the use of technology has served Maxco well. The company has maintained consistent growth for many years, having increased its revenue several times over.
The steady growth has driven Maxco to seek out systems that have the ability to scale over time to support the company, yielding key performance gains while remaining reliable and easy to manage. The platform of choice has been Oracle J.D. Edwards World, deployed on IBM System i servers.
Loyalty that pays off
Maxco has been an IBM customer for many years, starting out with the IBM System/36 in the 1980s the great-grandfather of the current System i. The company’s philosophy then was much the same as it is now: it needed a system that would deliver results without the need for intensive management or a large IT staff. The IBM System/36 met that requirement well, as have all its successors up to and including the present System i in use at Maxco.
By the mid-1990s, we’d outgrown the original system and its software, so we started looking for a replacement. We liked the IBM platform and didn’t want to leave it, so we looked for an application suite that would meet our needs and run on the then-current IBM AS/400,® Bryant says.
We chose the J.D. Edwards World enterprise suite. It was a good match; it was designed specifically for the AS/400, and its capabilities were just what we needed. Manufacturing, distribution, inventory, shipping, receiving, billing J.D. Edwards does it all.
Since the first deployment of J.D. Edwards applications on the AS/400, Maxco has stayed with both the enterprise suite and the IBM platform, upgrading both over time as the company grew. Bryant says that while his overall view of technology is conservative, he takes care to keep Maxco’s software and systems current. We don’t want to have legacy issues dragging us down. We always have the latest versions in place. Our approach is to overbuy, so that we are always in a position to handle growth. And when it comes time to upgrade, we’re driven by need when something gets in our way, we deal with it right then and there. We believe in giving ourselves good tools to work with we work hard to be profitable, and that lets us reinvest in the company.
The current deployment consists of a pair of IBM System i servers a 520 and a 525. One of these is used for J.D. Edwards production workloads, with the other devoted to J.D. Edwards testing and Lotus production. The J. D. Edwards machine also hosts a time and attendance software solution and a bar code system, both interfaced with Edwards. WebSphere® Application Server is used to provide a Web interface for both the J.D. Edwards enterprise suite and the timekeeping system. The Lotus applications include Lotus QuickrTM team collaboration, Lotus Domino,® Lotus Sametime® and Lotus Notes.®
To provide enhanced mobile capability, the smart phones used by Maxco’s workforce are closely integrated with the Lotus Notes and Sametime solutions, as well as the company’s Lotus-powered intranet. Eight IBM System x servers are used to run a variety of supporting applications, including a J.D. Edwards barcode solution, anti-virus, Microsoft® Windows® file services, Windows Active Directory® and Websense Security Filtering. Backup is provided by an IBM System StorageTM TS2900 tape library with autoloader, as well as two IBM 3581 tape drives.
Rounding out the solution was IBM Global Financing Services (IGF). IGF developed a financing strategy that would help Maxco manage its cash flow. Bryant says that IGF played a key role in getting everything off the ground and continues to be involved to this day. They really made it work and were so easy to do business with, says Bryant. We’ve been able to find a ‘sweet spot’ leasing arrangement that makes our IT investments much easier to justify from a cash management standpoint. Making technology affordable helps us stick to our strategy of positioning for the future even in tight economic conditions.
Maxco’s decision to use IBM has proven to be a wise one. Staying with IBM and J.D. Edwards over the long haul has been good for us, Bryant says. It’s been bulletproof we know it’s going to work. We understand the applications, the hardware and the operating system well and we don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort messing with it. We’re able to manage it ourselves with minimal investment in IT staff that’s saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in staffing costs. The System i and its predecessors have served us so well that the choice of platform influences all of our other technology decisions.
A longstanding, personal relationship
The Maxco story doesn’t stop with the success it has found by using Oracle J.D. Edwards and IBM technology. The company has also reaped real benefits from its well-established relationship with its technology providers. The IBM approach to serving midsize companies like Maxco is to make IBM Business Partners a key part of the engagement; they bring unique value-add to these engagements, because they have a strong local presence and are intimately familiar with the needs of their customers. This lets them provide highly personal, effective service and advice, drawing on the depth and reach of IBM expertise and technology.
Wired Integrations is the IBM Business Partner that has been serving Maxco for many years and is an excellent example of how local Business Partners can deliver enhanced value to customers. Mark Gilmore, president of Wired Integrations, is in regular contact with David Bryant and serves as a valued advisor. We talk every couple of weeks, Bryant says. Mark has become an integral part of our team, and has seen us through the last four or five major server upgrades.
He’s taken on the role of staying up to date and helping me understand where to go with my technology investments. He knows our business and our growth pattern and doesn’t need to be brought up to speed. That gives him the ability to offer up the right answers for us every time. In all these years he’s never steered me wrong.
The business benefits provided by the IBM and Oracle solution are undeniable, but Bryant is quick to note that the capabilities of the hardware and software, as important as they may be, are just part of the picture. There’s no doubt that what we get from the J.D. Edwards suite is a big part of our success, and of course we’ve been very happy with IBM technology for a very long time. But it’s the overall package that’s really important to us. What we’ve built over the years is a high degree of trust, and a good comfort level. We know that the team of IBM, Oracle and Wired Integrations is looking out for us and can be relied on absolutely to give us what we need. We’ve got the best tools for our needs, and trusted partners who provide them to us. It’s a very powerful combination.
For more information
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© Copyright IBM Corporation 2009 IBM Corporation1 New Orchard RoadArmonk, NY 10504U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America September 2009 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Domino, Lotus, Lotus Notes, Quickr, Sametime, System i, System x, System Storage and WebSphere are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or TM), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at "Copyright and trademark information" at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml Mircrosoft, Windows, Windows NT, and the Windows logo are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product, or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. This case study illustrates how one IBM customer uses IBM products. There is no guarantee of comparable results. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates.