Ron Rogers- EBS Next for Windows, talks about niche software and changes in the industry.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Hey guys. Welcome back to the show. Texas Business Radio. Go ahead and get your calls in 8-4-4-8-1-4-8-1-4-4. It’s a 24 hour caller line. Get them in on Twitter hash tag TBR, or go to the website texasbusinessradio.com and get your question in that way. A lot of ways to get in touch with us. I don’t really care which one you choose. We’re going to get the experts on here to get those questions answered.
I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry, my partner, is sitting over there in the co-host chair, and we’re talking about software today. Software is a very important, and growing, segment of our economy, and something that we think you guys need to know about. We got some pretty exciting guys on the show this week. Jay, what do you think?
Jay W. Curry: Well, this is an industry that’s only been around about 50, 60 years, and we’ve got a company here that’s been around for 54. It’s hard to keep up with these guys. The technology changes every 18 months and I just don’t know how they do it, but EBS has been very successful.
Matt Register: EBS is the company. Next for Windows is the product. Ron Rogers is the President, and CEO. Ron, welcome to the show, Sir.
Ron Rogers: Thank you very much for having me.
Matt Register: So talk to me about EBS and Next for Windows. What do you do? Who do you do it to?
Ron Rogers: What we do is we develop a ERP system for equipment distributors, so people who sell forklifts, excavators, backhoes, generators, pumps, those types of things. That’s our market niche.
Matt Register: Now ERP, not to insult anyone’s intelligence, is basically the software that controls everything from the quote process, sales process, all the way through to the invoicing and accounting.
Ron Rogers: That’s correct. Sometimes we’re known as a dealer management system, also.
Matt Register: These companies that sell, distribute, maintain, this industrial equipment is very similar to a car dealership, right?
Ron Rogers: Correct.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about that. What are some of the processes they have to go through?
Ron Rogers: Okay. So just like a car dealer, maybe they have, instead of a Toyota car, they have a Toyota forklift, they sell new, they sell used, they have a parts department, they have a service department, they have accounting, they have marketing. Our software manages that entire process.
Matt Register: From start to finish. This is a cloud based system or a licensed system somebody would put on their server.
Ron Rogers: We let them choose. They can go on the cloud and operate on our servers or they can license the software and run it on their own.
Matt Register: What is the trend? Because everything we’re hearing says cloud is where everything is migrating to.
Ron Rogers: I would say the trend is cloud. People that didn’t use to even consider it from a user standpoint. People for instance that had 15 users in the past would never even consider going on the cloud, but now we get 25, 30, 40, 50 users at least ask for a quote.
Matt Register: What’s the decision here for the company? They either need to buy servers themselves, maintain them, hire personnel to run it, or have somebody else do it in the cloud. Why would anybody choose not to?
Ron Rogers: Maybe they’re just concerned about somebody else having their data. That really where it kind of breaks down. Plus, they’re in the rental business also, so they know that at some point you pay for whatever you’re renting. And so, they understand that. We give them the ability if they want to license the software, and just run it on … maybe it’s not even servers that they own. It’s servers in a data center just kind of like what we’re doing.
Matt Register: Got it. Where they control them and they can have a little warm and fuzzy that their data isn’t in someone else’s hands.
Ron Rogers: Right.
Matt Register: So talk to me a little bit about the process, because this is custom made software, this is existing software that you’re putting together, what is the process here? If I come in and want you to put in a system in my facility, is it your software or somebody else’s that it’s going to be going in?
Ron Rogers: No. It’s our software. For the most part, we can customize it using existing control files that we have set up. So we have dealer controls, manufacturer controls, branch controls, and things like that, that help us customize probably 90% right out of the box, being able to 90% go to a new company.
Then they may have 5% or 10% things that they would like for us to customize just for them. We’re happy to do it. Almost every one of our customers have some sort of customization.
Matt Register: Well yeah, because every company is different. In my experience, my limited experience in dealing with some of this stuff, the customization is one cost prohibitive, and two, something very much the vendors are trying to dissuade you from doing, right?
Ron Rogers: Yeah, a lot of our competitors that’d be true. They try to dissuade people from going, or they’ll say, hey, show back up when you got ten other people interested. We’ll do it for one [inaudible 00:05:44] and most of the customizations aren’t that expensive.
Matt Register: Interesting.
Jay W. Curry: So in the old days we used to say we’d get 80% of it with our canned package then we’d have to customize for 20%. You set it up so doing that 20% is pretty easy. You could really do even better than 80/20. We’d tell them, well, you gotta change your business to hit this 80, and then we’ll take care of the 20. You get closer to 100%.
Ron Rogers: Yeah. We don’t ask our customers to customize their business to us. The way I kind of look at our role is that we’re here to help them run their business. We’re a partner in that. From the technology partner standpoint, it’s our job to deliver whatever it is that we need to do. So, yes, we have the ERP system, but today, most of our work is really done on the mobile side.
So we have IOS and Android applications giving the ability to check in rental equipment. To be able to count parts. To be able to do equipment inventories out in the yard.
Jay W. Curry: Yeah. You were talking earlier about … and you’ve been around so long. Technology changes every 18 months. You’ve got to be changing all the time. Now you’ve got it where you can use the iPhone, you can take pictures, all that’s integrated. Tell us a little bit about how you’re using new technologies?
Ron Rogers: Oh yeah. We have a number of mobile, and web, applications. We found that the native applications are the best way to go. That means IOS, and Android, because we’re invoking a lot of things on the device. We’re invoking the camera, we’re invoking some of the events for CRM, for the sales people, we’ve got a mobile application for them to be able to call their customers, schedule calls, schedule calendar invites, things like that all through the mobile application.
And so, like I said, we found that it’s best to … originally we thought the best thing to do was to go HTML 5, which would size things for different devices, but the native apps are the best.
Jay W. Curry: In my background of implementing software for years one of the things was always a nightmare, if you’re in the rental business particularly, is how things get beat up, and then you get into lawsuits, you get into arguments, now you’re using technology to kind of fix that too.
From the point of view of taking pictures and being able to file that right there, you’ve got GPS, you know exactly where that was when it was taken. You know what time it was taken. All the automatically goes into your software, right?
Ron Rogers: That’s exactly right. They’re running a truck out to go pick up an excavator that maybe the customer damaged.
Jay W. Curry: Yes.
Ron Rogers: They do a walk around inspection with their mobile device. They take pictures. It does geo-stamping so they know exactly where the picture was taken.
Matt Register: Time stamping. [crosstalk 00:08:49].
Ron Rogers: Because it’s like, well, you could of taken that picture anywhere, well, here’s were we took it, and this was your site. It has taken basically those arguments away. It’s given them a chance to now have some evidence to go back to the customer. These aren’t cheap pieces of equipment. These are million dollar excavators and things like that, and so a repair to that thing may be several thousand dollars. Tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.
Jay W. Curry: Another big issue for software is listening to your users and keeping the software updated. How are you doing that?
Ron Rogers: We have an annual product enhancement, and we put out a product enhancement bulletin, and basically what that is, is things that our customers have asked us to do, and we … because that’s how we drive our development.
Jay W. Curry: So you have a user group, is that what you mean?
Ron Rogers: Yeah. We have a user group. Both for our mobile applications as well as our main ERP. As a matter of fact, our user group meeting is coming up in April, and it’s in New Orleans this year, and we just get together with them and we talk about different areas of the system, and what can we do to make them better.
Matt Register: Fascinating stuff. Unfortunately, we are completely out of time. Ron Rogers, President and CEO of EBS. The website ebs-next.com. We’re gonna have it linked right there from texasbusinessradio.com.
Thank you very much for joining us.
Ron Rogers: Thanks for having me.
Matt Register: We’ll be back right on the other side of the break.
Sponsored in part by:
In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.