In 2002 I was married (still am!), with 3 children. And I quit my job as Vice President of Information Technology of a major 3PL in Canada.
Before I get going here, you should understand that I am first and foremost a techie! Not a business owner, not a financial expert, and certainly not a P/L guy. I like technology; especially technology that makes our lives easier.
Having already been a small business owner before having kids, the itch was always there to get back out on my own.
So in 2002, I resigned with nothing in my pocket. No opportunity and not a heck of a lot of savings. Luckily for me, the company I was working for had just bought McHugh WMS (soon to be RedPrairie WMS) and they asked me to stay on to help implement the system. It was not exactly what I had in mind but it was a start and it gave me 9 months of income.
At first my now new customer gave me the task of creating some Crystal Reports (this is funny…trust me). Crystal was the RedPrairie report writer tool of the day. And really for them, because of the RP design, they had a cost effective alternative to meet some of their development tasks.
Once I had gotten through most of the reports, the company decided it wanted me to work on some more complex issues in RedPrairie. Budget and time were running short and using me was less expensive.
So they assigned me tasks of creating what we now call DDAs as well as doing some integration. Now I was really getting into the nitty gritty of RedPrairie WMS. I met a couple of real good guys at RedPrairie who taught me in a few hours how integration worked and they showed me MOCA (McHugh Open Component Architecture…back in the day).
MOCA, if you are not familiar, is the engine, the architecture, the underlying infrastructure, the big kahuna of RedPrairie systems. When you know MOCA well enough you are king. Every single system is built on MOCA, from WMS to TMS to the Integrator and so on.
Without getting technical, MOCA really opens up the world to the customer. I discovered for the first time a system that actually put as much control in the hands of the customer as they needed and wanted.
Not only could you write your own reports, and create your own labels, but you could also now develop your own integrations from scratch. Hook into any other system. Talk to automation equipment. You could put together your own screens. You could write small pieces of code that could add that little extra thing you needed that may not have come with the system.
You could even write a whole new component and put a button on a screen to run your new functionality. All of a sudden, you could add an entirely new piece of functionality that is totally embedded into your system without going back to the vendor for help.
I came from supporting a WMS that had nowhere near this capability. There was no exposure to their system and any change, no matter how small, took weeks at a minimum.
So I went from years of utter frustration to feeling completely liberated. I knew that this was a technology that I could believe in, that I would enjoy working with and that I could use it to deliver real results to customers. I could build a business around it.
That is why I chose RedPrairie.
Today Longbow Advantage is 45 people that help customers do just what I talk about here and it is all because of the vision of the people who built MOCA and systems based on MOCA some 20 years ago.
And here’s to 20 more years of customer control!