Relationship building

Posted on 9 Sep 2010 by The Manufacturer

Forming partnerships with its customers has been the modus operandi for Modcomp, a specialist in IT solutions for the manufacturing sector, since its inception more than three decades ago. As told to Edward Machin.

Based in Wokingham, and with offices in Germany and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Modcomp Systems & Solutions specialise in delivering IT solutions based on software from Microsoft, Cisco and Hyland, among others. A subsidiary of the CSP Inc orgnisation, listed on the NASDAQ and with revenues of $83m, the company was awarded Microsoft Gold Certified Partnership in 2007 — one of the first organisations to achieve the certification with a special competency in Custom Development Solutions.

Together with its work in the travel, children’s services and banking sectors, the manufacturers Modcomp deal with are, as expected, highly focused on their day-to-day operations. Things, though, often quickly go beyond any initial brief — Decoma Sybex, a subsidiary of Magna Corporation, being a case in point. Charged with building an application to enable the company to manage its purchase and acquisition processes, the project was, initially, a standalone endeavour justifiable on cost/benefit analysis.

Kevin Magee, Modcomp’s managing director, takes up the story: “Both parties soon saw an opportunity to take the successes of the project to another part of the Decoma family; one which had a different purchasing system. This wasn’t anticipated when we went to tender, only emerging later down the line. The exciting thing is that we don’t necessarily know where we’ll go with a company at that first meeting and, equally, nor may they.” This isn’t uncommon for those at Modcomp, however.

“We pride ourselves on being able to respond when business demands change,” says Magee. “Be it a software upgrade to enable a change in service our customers are providing, a product they are manufacturing or a migration from a legacy MRP system to a more current version; we do it all.” “It certainly makes things both more interesting and challenging for our guys, not to mention the fact that a stronger relationship develops over a period of time.

If Modcomp was just a product supplier, we would probably complete the sale and then not have much more contact other than minimal contact through the support of that product. But because, as a solution provider, our customers consider us as part of the ‘team,’ we develop a much stronger working partnership. For example, we regularly feed through ideas about how our solutions can help them improve working practices or the ways they can respond to emerging business situations.”

Lean on me
Indeed, the concept of supplying a onepoint solution, only to leave customers fending for themselves thereafter, is wholly anathema to those at Modcomp.

The company’s relationship with Jabsco, a manufacturer of industrial and marine pumps, highlights the concept further still. “Working with them for six years now, we initially built software to support Jabsco’s Lean initiatives: supply chain management and waste saving measures, for instance,” says Magee.

Developing software that operated in tandem with the existing framework, the Modcomp team added features including hand-held wireless devices for increased efficiency on the shop floor. “By bolting these modules on,” he says, “Jabsco continue to see value from their initial investment, while simultaneously delivering benefits going forward. Even today we continue to add features and functions to respond to the company’s changing operations: a range of pumps for food manufacturing, to name one.” “Ultimately, the expertise of our people and Modcomp’s ability to work with customers to solve their problems is the constant in our story — that’s why clients turn to us. The nature of the solutions we deliver changes with advances in technology, of course, but the core competency of connecting the ones and zeros is something we’ve been recognised for since our inception.” “In today’s manufacturing environment, many companies can’t afford to simply throw a system onto the scrapheap because they want to implement a new business process.

Integration and/or adding to the current system is thus key — as is getting the most from your investment. Delivering value, very simply, is what Modcomp does, and we have no intention of changing!”