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May Advertising goes from 3 software systems to 1

Supplier: ECi Software Solutions By: Ross Hammerton
11 December, 2009

May Advertising was running three different software systems and decided that the sign manufacturer needed a change in its software.

Before going live on ECi's M1 software in April 2007, May Advertising was running three different software systems for its one location. May's chief information officer, Mark Farnan, decided that the sign manufacturer needed a change in its software.

Farnan joined May Advertising in 2001 to help with the implementation of a sign-company-specific software package called Activity. In addition to that system, May also had an independent financial package with two different data sets – one for financials, one for purchasing. That three-pronged software system just couldn’t deliver what May Advertising needed.

"We weren't really ever going to get what we were asking for out of that program, and it was time to look for something else," says Farnan.

May Advertising has brought all of those areas together under a single software package by implementing M1.

"Having all aspects of the business located in one resource has made a significant difference," says Farnan. "I am no longer tracking information in three or more systems and having to consolidate that into one location for reporting or accountability."

A New Company… Sort of
May Advertising has been in business since 1946. It began as a small, family-owned manufacturer, but the company’s structure has changed quite a bit since the acquisition of Artlite, an illuminated sign company, in December 2008.

Farnan remembers the acquisition day well; it was his birthday, and he was stuck at work until 2 a.m. That acquisition changed the makeup of the company, says Farnan.

"We're pretty much a new company. We took pieces of our old company and this new company and formed a new company from that."

May Advertising serves a broad range of customers, from small family operations to large corporate entities. The manufacturer creates signage and advertising that most people would recognize, whether from their local service station, liquor store, or Pizza Hut. 

"We have a mail order business for oil and petroleum products, things you'd find in gas stations, different promotional products and decals. We also do fence and security signs. We print, emboss, and dye cut those types of signs. We do point of purchase – alcohol, tobacco – it’s not solely those guys, but it's point of purchase advertising – bar, liquor store, that type of thing. We also do temporary signs, seasonal promotions, permanent signage, neon signs and other types of lighted signs. That's higher dollar, higher-end customer. We have everything from small mom-and-pop mail order business to the corporate, seasonal ad campaigns where they'll spend a couple millions dollars to go promote a particular brand of something," explains Farnan.

May's clients include Heineken, Microsoft and Pizza Hut.

M1 Implementation
Most M1 features have been implemented and are working well for May Advertising, but there is still more to be done. Farnan says that the acquisition delayed some M1 projects, including adding the Web site and Cost of Goods Sold pieces.

"We have some major initiatives related to M1 implementation to carry out the first of the year," he says. "Cost of Goods Sold is another one, it's an accounting change, but it's a big one. That's really about getting true costing and fully understanding the costs of what we're making. Those have been our challenges that we had before M1, and we're trying to work out through M1. We're phase 3 or 4 of implementation. It's always ongoing for us. We're excited about the Web site. It's going to make things better and easier for most of the people here."

Right now, when a customer orders through May's Web system, the work essentially has to be redone by May employees because the system isn't integrated with the database just yet.

Farnan says, "Our Web orders come in independent of the system and so it's a bunch of double-work for us. Once we can get this over to the Web piece that M1 provides, which is completely integrated with our database, we basically get customers doing the work for us, maintaining their own accounts. It also gives us some extranet capabilities that we need for our bigger customers. We’re pretty excited about it. It's really going to be a game-changer for our call centers. It should really reduce their workloads."

The M1 Choice
May Advertising selected M1 from a group of 20 candidates. The software was chosen because of its modern technology, user-friendliness, and customization options. The choice has been a good one for May.

Farnan says, "M1 is not just a software provider. They have become a partner. M1 didn't just sell me and walk out the door. They care about my business, and I know I can rely on them."