Macola’s Evolve 2018 conference addressed focused on client education, support and ongoing engagement.
By Staci Davidson, Managing Editor, Knighthouse Media
Macola had a lot to celebrate at its Evolve 2018 conference in April in Chicago, and the mood reflected that. Not only was the company launching its 10.7 version of Macola ERP, but it was celebrating clients’ successes in a revitalized manufacturing environment and the fact that ECi Software Solutions had acquired Macola in Fall 2017. Macola formerly was a part of the Exact Software group.
On the conference’s first morning, ECi President and COO Trevor Gruenewald got in front of the crowd of attendees to stress ECi’s dedication to the Macola brand. Praising Macola’s team of “industry experts,” he promised the ongoing delivery of “purpose-build software that speaks your language.”
It was important he was there to speak to Macola’s clients, because people are always curious how things will change after an acquisition. “It’s been such an exiting event,” said Alison Forsythe, managing director at Macola. “Having Trevor address our customers, partners and the media has been tremendous. We are getting great feedback, and this has been our highest-attended event ever.”
There is definitely a feeling of community at the Evolve conferences, which the ECi team was quick to identify. “This is my first Evolve, and there is so much passion for the product, passion for the overall community,” said Jeff Ralyea, president of ECi’s manufacturing division. “It’s great to join a company and see how the community is – how they feel about Macola, how they feel about the channel, how do they feel about the strategy. I’m seeing real engagement, and that engagement tells a big tale. The sponsorships of this event have exceeded all prior years and attendance has exceeded all prior years. We are seeing these customers from a lifecycle perspective.”
At this year’s Evolve conference, Macola was excited to offer a much larger educational program. The breakout sessions involved supply chain issues, workflow configuration, safeguarding data, navigating the legal landscape and tips and tricks for manufacturing and distribution operations.
“The intention is to become the preeminent provider of technology and innovation in manufacturing,” Ralyea said. “We have to look at how we educate our customers, how we drive knowledge sharing – not selling anything, just giving them better enablement and better tools. The legal sharing session was my favorite – these are things customers need to be aware of, like tax laws and tariffs,” Ralyea said. “All of that is driving value and truly helping manufacturing.”
Macola released the 10.7 version of its software at the conference, as well. “Our technology partners are really excited about this release,” said Derek Ochs, director of development at Macola. “When our partners add pieces on, we want to make sure there is a path for them, and now there is a path. It creates a lot of excitement. We’re getting good feedback from customers on the user experience – our customers are rooting for us.”
One such customer, Andrew Higby, director of information services at Stenner Pump, explained his company has been using Macola software since 1995, but migrated to the Macola 10 platform in fall 2017. He described the software as “a perfect fit for our system” and explained the conference was helpful, as well.
“I’ve been networking with people at Macola and talking to other manufacturers, sharing information with them and hearing about what they are doing,” Higby said. “The training sessions are really nice – if you have any questions about a particular piece of software, you come out of a training session knowing how to do that better.”
He noted there is a reason Stenner Pump has maintained a long-term relationship with Macola. “One perk of Macola is their support and professional services people are top notch,” he said. “If you upgrade or if you are still on a previous version, the customer support is very responsive and won’t stop until it’s done. I’ve been in IT for 19 years, and this is the best software vendor I’ve dealt with.”