'The case studies below represent the experiences of some of our users. We hope that you can identify with some of them, and that they may be relevant to your own company's needs.'
ABA Case Study Description
ABA’s company policy of “total dedication to providing our valued customer base with a standard of
service and care that not only meets, but also exceeds expectations” was endorsed when ABA were invited to become a
member of IADA, the Independent Authorised Distributor Alliance, earlier this year.
Chris Williams, the Managing Director of ABA, has recently been made Marketing Director of IADA,
the organisation comprising 19 members and 54 branches across the UK.
Chris joined ABA in 1983, was made Managing Director in 1984, and bought the company in 1988. Two office moves later,
in 2001 and 2007, sees them operating from purpose-built premises in Pegasus Mews on the prestigious
St ratton Business Park in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire.
With an annual growth in excess of 20% in each of the last three years, we asked what is the reason for this success?
Chris says “It is mainly due to the dedicated hard working team we have here. With three new staff members in
2008, and two in 2009, we have recently calculated that we have a combined total of 320 years industry knowledge!”
He stopped short of giving the credit of their success to the implementation of MAP Premier in April this year, but was very
complimentary about the ease of transition from MAP4 to Premier. “After 12 years, we were very happy with MAP4, but more recently, our
business had taken us in the direction where we needed a Windows system with direct, easy links to the internet, email and more customer
relationship-based facilities. We had a very good look around the marketplace, but found nothing as good as MAP Premier. All systems look
impressive in a demonstration, but you only find out how good they are once you start to use them, by which time it may be too late.
Many facilities offered by MAP4, that we expected to be standard in all systems, were missing from other systems that we looked at, which would have
given us serious problems.”
So what were the crucial factors in selecting MAP Premier, above these other systems that, obviously, we cannot name?
Chris answered “There were a number of reasons. Firstly, other software systems that we looked at, even those claiming to be
‘expert’ in the bearings and power transmission business, didn’t offer anywhere near the same facilities as MAP Premier.
Secondly, all our MAP4 historical data, representing 12 years of sales and product history, would be converted to the new software.
Thirdly, the cost was significantly less than comparable systems, and finally, we value customer loyalty very highly,
and BL Computer Services have provided us with excellent help and support over the last 12 years.
They have always been on hand to provide instant advice when needed,
so why should we take the chance on another software vendor when we were so happy with the one we were with?”
To conclude, he says “Take all of these factors into consideration, and there really was only one decision!”
Abpac Case Study Description
By MAP4 standards, ABPAC were a relatively late member to our ‘club’, when they installed the system in 1998, but that didn’t
stop them being one of our first users to upgrade to MAP Premier, installing a 12 user system in August 2009.
We were first introduced to ABPAC via a recommendation by an existing long-standing MAP4 user in the town, Wincanton, Somerset, always a gratifying
circumstance. Since then, we have had an excellent relationship with them, writing much custom software to ensure
that they get the best out of, initially, MAP4 and now MAP Premier.
ABPAC derives it’s name from Anthony Barker Packaging, started by Tony
Barker in 1972, when he identified a gap in the bakery packaging market for, especially, foils and cartons. Not uncommonly, it seems, he
started the business from his garage in Shaftesbury, but very quickly outgrew that, and moved to Wincanton. In 1989, as the
business continued to grow, with a turnover of £1.5M and with 20 staff, they moved into purpose built premises in Wincanton, where they
remain to this day.
The company has been owned and run by Lee and Melanie Barker since 2002, although Lee had effectively taken over
from his father some years before then, having joined the company as a 17 year old from school. Turnover is now over £5M and they employ 27 people.
Now one of the leading suppliers of packaging products to the food
and catering industry, specialising in the bakery trade, they provide a service that has earned a reputation for excellence and reliability. In
addition ABPAC offer a custom design service to provide bespoke packaging to suit customers’ specific needs, setting them apart from their competitors.
To many MAP4 users, 11 years use does not
seem that long, so what encouraged ABPAC to upgrade to Premier? “We were concerned that MAP4 would become unsupported, as the number of active users declined,
and the fact that no new servers were being made really convinced us that we needed to move on” says Melanie. “We also wanted to use emailing more
extensively, and integrate our system more closely with software like Excel. We have a very active sales team, both in-house and on the road, and we thought that the
Customer Relationship Management functions of Premier would benefit us” she continues. “Our business is dependant on our computer
system and, much as we liked MAP4, we felt we couldn’t go any further with it, and it was starting to hold us back.”
So, two years on, has the reality lived up to the expectation? Melanie continues, “We are so much more efficient. The
software is very flexible and we have made substantial savings in stationery, postage and consumables, it is much easier
and quicker to use, and it also saves us time and money. It is modern and up-to-date, and it allows us to keep up with customer requests.”
Eastern Case Study Description
When Diane Reach left International Seal (UK) Ltd in 2007,
after 25 years service, she could never have imagined the startling success she was about to achieve when starting Eastern Seals (UK)
just a few months later.
Having started as an office junior, when International Seal first opened their UK operation in 1982, being their second ever employee,
and finishing as Operations Manager in 2007, she rightly felt she had all the experience needed to make a go of running her own business.
Knowing that the North-East operation of International (now called Simrit) was due to be closed, made the decision to leave much easier than it would
have been, and in July 2007, Eastern Seals (UK) was formed in Ashington, Northumberland.
For the first six months Diane and David White, also from Simrit,
worked out of makeshift premises, albeit it with 10,000 sq ft of storage, trying to establish a foothold in the market. Although funding was limited, with an establishment budget of just £30k,
Diane knew that she needed a computer system to help cope with her stock control and order processing demands. She had heard of the MAP4 software system through her many contacts in the
seal business and, to cut a long story short, MAP4 was installed, going live in August 2007.
Try as we might, we cannot take any of the credit for the amazing growth of the company since then, in what everyone knows have been very difficult economic conditions.
A first year turnover of £395k rose to £895k in the 2nd year, then £1.34 million and £1.84 million, with a conservative forecast of £2.2 million for this year. When you consider that Simrit’s turnover
after 25 years of trading was £2.25 million, it does show just how remarkable this growth has been.
Eastern have doubled their warehouse space, and now employ 13 people, with an admirable philosophy of taking people on apprenticeships.
They have taken on four apprentices in the last two years, undertaking the training themselves, with the help of the North-East Chamber of Commerce, in which Eastern Seals play an active role.
Their stockholding has increased to £750k, 85% of which is sourced from overseas, with an expanding export business, including Europe, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa and the Baltic regions.
In 2010, Diane recognised the need for her IT systems to have better internet connectivity, and a 12 user MAP Premier system was duly installed. Eastern now email all their invoices, quotations and
purchase orders, with direct links to their website. Instant data interchange with Excel, Access and Outlook also enables them to better manage their business administration functions.
We are always interested in what makes a business successful, whilst others struggle, so,
naturally, we asked Diane what is the secret of Eastern Seals’ success. “It’s very difficult to be precise, but we think that being honest with customers is very important. We quote accurate delivery dates,
not what we think the customer wants to hear, backed up with excellent product knowledge. We believe that people buy from people first, and we think we are good people to deal with.”
We heartily endorse that!
Kent Bearings Case Study Description
It was back in 1995 that we first came into contact with Kent Bearings.
They were getting frustrated with the lack of sales information available
from their Sage system, and had heard about MAP4 from several contacts within
the Bearings Industry. As a result, we were invited to demonstrate our software
to them, which we duly did at their Head Office in Ashford.
That was the last we saw or heard of them until 5 years later. We then received a request
from them to have another look at MAP4. The difference this time was that the company
had grown considerably, and the problems they had been experiencing in 1995 were now much
more acute and had far greater consequences for the continued expansion of the company.
It transpired that Kent Bearings had installed a Foxpro Database system in the intervening years,
written and installed by a family friend. This, in turn, had not been the answer to all of their problems,
and they subsequently opted for the market leader in the industry, MAP4.
But the story had begun 12 years previously, when Martin Bennett and Stuart Parker decided to leave Mecro and
like many others, start up on their own. An 8' x 10' office near Ashford Airport was their first home,
with a move to larger premises coming 2 years later.Expansion continued when they acquired BT Express
in Whitstable in 1993. This was followed in 1996 with the opening of a branch in Hastings and in 1999 the relocation
of their Head Office and branch in Ashford. Yet another new branch was opened in Rochester in 2000, and the recent purchase of BG Engineering,
of Staplehurst and it's relocation to Ashford completes the story.
An impressive growth, but one that could only have been achieved with the right administrative set-up to support it.
Which is where MAP4 came in!
"Our previous system was struggling to cope with the volumes that our four branches were achieving" says Martin
"and we weren't able to rely on the information it was giving us. We knew we had to do something, and we had been impressed with MAP4
when we looked at it in 1995. BLCS demonstrated the system again to all our branch managers and assistant managers,
and the decision was unanimous."
The Head Office and Ashford branch system was installed and Kent Bearings went live in December 2000.
There was no necessity for the other branches to be constantly on-line to Head Office, and each of them operate their own MAP4 Server.
This provides a greater level of resilience in the event of hardware failure, and saves huge amounts of money on dedicated communication links.
Invoice data from the branches is electronically transmitted to Head Office on a daily basis and each branches stock profile is also electronically
transmitted to every other branch, although in this case a weekly update is considered sufficient.
This provides the sales staff with instant access to stock levels at all the branches with one screen enquiry.
Has the system been a success and are Kent Bearings happy with it?
"In our business we firmly believe in high standards and our aim is to never let anyone down" says Martin.
"MAP4 has helped us enormously in both respects. It never goes wrong and if we ever need any help,
BLCS are always there. Happy? We're absolutely delighted!"
London Bearings Kent Case Study Description
The large majority of independent bearings and power transmission companies were originally formed
by their owners following a welltrodden path: working for one of the big national bearings distributors and rising to the position of
branch manager, before realising that they were, effectively, running their own business. Those with the enterprise, business acumen
and most of all, nerve, took the final decisive step and left the relative security of paid employment and did actually start running their own business.
Kevin Lane, the owner of London Bearings (Kent) Ltd, did not tread that path. Starting his working life as a shipwright in Chatham
dockyard, he was lured in 1978 by the appeal of a company van and joined London Bearings Ltd as a rep in their Chatham branch.
Replacing Alan Bourne, now the owner of AB Seals, another MAP user (see later), he had barely had enough time to run up a decent expense account
before the branch manager, Phil Pollard (also see later) left, leaving Kevin as the new branch manager.
Kevin then set about building up the branch, which he did very successfully, to such an extent that he was considering the previously mentioned well-trodden path. He,
very honestly, discussed this with the owner of London Bearings, Bob Farmer, who simply asked Kevin if he would like to buy the branch instead, which he subsequently did.
Kevin briefly considered changing the name to Fast Lane (which we like), but sensibly decided, for continuity reasons, to keep the London Bearings
connection. London Bearings (Kent) Ltd was thus formed, staying in Chatham for another two years, before moving to Gillingham in 1990.
We first came into contact with LBK in 1996 when Kevin and Alan Bourne (see earlier) together visited our stand at the Drives and Controls Exhibition in
Telford. Both LBK and AB Seals very quickly placed orders for MAP4, and LBK went live with a 4-user system later that year.
A significant decision was made in 1999 when LBK joined IADA (Independent Authorised Distributor Alliance). This offered them the price benefits
of group purchasing, an extensive knowledge base to call upon when needed, and generally a much stronger position in the market.
Just to prove what a closely-knit industry this is, Phil Pollard (see earlier) re-joined LBK in 2008, contributing to the continued growth of the company, necessitating a
move to brand new premises in Sittingbourne. This provided them with twice the space they had in Gillingham, but in a more industrial area, with substantial agricultural trade on their doorstep.
LBK have recently placed an order to upgrade to MAP Premier and, in fact, at the time of going to press, are going live on their new 8 user system next week!
With a straight face, Kevin says they are looking forward to it, with every confidence that everything will go smoothly and without incident. Whilst we know this will be the case, it makes a nice
change to hear a user say it. When we asked Kevin why he felt so confident he very kindly said “because BLCS have always been there when needed, have provided
excellent support and have been prepared to go that extra mile.”
Enough to make us blush!
Roma Medical Case Study Description
In 2001 Simon Dalton, Harmer Roberts and John Pitt left their jobs with a medical aids company and bought RMA.
The company had been in existence for 25 years, had a turnover of just over 1 million but was not really going anywhere.
The first task, therefore, was to expand the product range from manufacturing wheelchairs,
walking sticks and homecare products to incorporate power products and scooters.
One of the next tasks was to install a computer system that could support the increasing workload. This is where we came in.
MAP4 was already very familiar to the team, as their previous company had been a user for many years,
and Simon called us in August 2001, to discuss their requirements. Having known them for over 15 years, we knew that negotiations would be tough,
but a deal was struck and a 4 user MAP4 system was installed in the October.
With growth running at the rate it was, it was not long before they needed to increase the number of MAP4 users
and an upgrade to a 10 user licence was soon effected.
The next major problem they had to overcome was one of space, or the lack of it. An increased product range, scooters in particular,
meant a need for more storage space. They had already taken over two additional units on the trading estate,
and the prospect of a fourth warehouse was just too much to consider. So they commissioned the building of
new bespoke 65,000 square foot premises on Bridgend Industrial Estate.
By now the MAP4 system had been upgraded to 16 users, all fully networked, with the manufacturing facilities of the Works Order Processing,
Bill of Materials and MRP modules implemented to supplement the Stock, Order Processing and Accounting functions.
In January 2004, they moved into their new premises and, apart from the normal teething problems that you would expect of such a move,
it all went very smoothly.We have since upgraded their IT structure with a 20 user Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 system,
providing them with instant Internet and email facilities from each PC, integrated with MAP4.
All in all, quite a success story, wouldn't you say?
Sealco Case Study Description
Rob Fowkes acquired Sealco in 2003, spotting an opportunity to extend and develop a niche market emphasis.
The company was started in 1990 by Chris Bradbury, with a primary focus on highperformance sealing solutions, but with Chris taking a less active role in latter years, the business
model had been rather underexploited.
Rob was General Manager for the Wyko Seals Division at the time and, having spent over 20 years in the seals business, relished the chance of building his own business.
Rob contacted us in 2004, as he knew that he needed a computer system that would enable him to grow the business.
Not one to waste time, MAP4 was installed at his Birmingham offices, initially implementing a small two user system. As turnover increased, he realised that he needed
more space, and in September 2006 Sealco relocated to their current offices in Halesowen.
To reflect the growth and trading changes within the company, the name of the company was changed later that year to Sealco International Ltd.
Whilst this growth was happening, their MAP4 system had been upgraded to an eight user system, coinciding with the acquisition of OL Sealing Systems (UK) of Sidcup, Kent.
In November 2007 Rob would Rob say the upgrade went? “Everyone says that upgrading systems is a nightmare, but we never really had any problems.
All of our historical MAP4 data was converted, and BL Computers were either on-site or on hand to answer any questions we had.”
What does he most like about the new system? “The reporting facilities in Premier are brilliant, as is the ease with which I can output data into Excel or create PDF files.
The accountancy aspects of the system are also more flexible. We sell a lot of seal kits and the kitting functions are also simpler to use than MAP4.
One of the best things about Premier, though, is that the software can be customised to suit the way we
work, and BLCS have given us a lot of their time and assistance ensuring that we get the best out of the system.”
Has it been worth upgrading? “Definitely! Our sales, stores and accounting staff all love MAP Premier.”
Supaseal Case Study Description
When we first met Supaseal in July 1993, they had been in existence
for just two years, and were a very different company to the one we see today. Peter Dickens, Supaseal’s owner, had just joined Sean Tailby, the original founder, as co-owner, and
the two of them set about building up the company. They were occupying the upstairs offices of Unit B, where they still are today, but were already bulging at the
seams, and badly needed more warehouse space.
Whilst this space was needed to house their rapidly increasing stock, they also knew that they needed a stock control and order processing computer system to control the
administration of the growing company, which is when we got to know them.
At this time they were actually in the process of expanding into the downstairs warehouse
of the unit, a policy that they were to pursue with some gusto during the following years, and once they had completed the move,
we subsequently installed a 3-user MAP4 system, going live in the October of that year.
Many years of continuous growth followed, resulting in the need for more and more warehouse space. They very
successfully managed to achieve this by taking over the adjacent units, acquiring Unit C in 1997, Unit D in 1999, and Unit A in 2005. This has resulted in a total capacity of
11,000 square feet, a stock-holding of over 40,000 items, with a stock value in excess of £500,000. This continued expansion has, naturally, meant
more staff, and this has increased from the original 3 when we first met them, to their current 15.
More changes were on the way when, in 2000, Sean moved to America to get married, and formed Sterling Seals
in Indiana, a company that still has very close ties with Supaseal.
To complete the life story, Peter Tarry was recruited as General Manager in 2005, with Lisa Bingley and Martin Vials becoming joint Managing Directors,
facilitating Peter Dickens taking a more backseat role. Most of Supaseal’s staff have been with the company for over 10 years, providing an invaluable wealth of
product knowledge and experience, one of the main reasons for a 20% increase in profits in the last 12 months alone. With 15-20% of their business coming from the export
market (Antarctica being the only continent they don’t export to, apparently!) Supaseal are also well protected from any home market fluctuations.
At the end of 2009, concerns over business continuity should their MAP4 server fail, together with a need for a more professional image and increased efficiency, the
decision was made to upgrade to MAP Premier. This was duly done, with the 15 user system going live in May 2010.
Have they seen any benefits? “Having been so familiar with MAP4 for 17
years, we didn’t think anything could be easier to use, but all functions of Premier are much simpler and quicker” says Lisa. “Report Writing is much more
flexible, creating Excel files takes seconds” adds Peter, “and minor tweaks to the software are usually made by BLCS whilst we are still on the phone to them.”
Happy with the change? “Most definitely!” concludes Lisa.