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A Reason to Celebrate

Phantom Fireworks teams IBM System i hardware with a BI solution and ERP software to launch reports.

Phantom Fireworks teams IBM System i hardware with a BI solution and ERP software to launch reports.

There's nothing quite like the oohs and aahs of Fourth-of-July fireworks. It brings out the kid in everyone, whether they're attending a fireworks display at the local park, putting on a mini-show of their own or running around the backyard with sparklers.

This summertime staple is thanks in large part to companies such as Phantom Fireworks, which distributes many varieties of consumer fireworks via 50 storefronts - some 15 to 20 are open year- round - and 1,200 or so temporary stands that pop onto the landscape at this time of year. "During this season, particularly in June, we probably have 2,000 people working for the company, up from the 200 fulltime employees we have at our Youngstown [Ohio] headquarters and another 200 at our satellite locations," notes Mike Koocher, CIO with B.J. Alan, owner and operator of Phantom Fireworks.

With its explosion of growth during the Fourth-of-July period, as well as the weeks leading up to New Year's Day, Phantom also has a unique business model and some unique business requirements, not the least of which includes reporting. After all, the company's management must know how well the company is performing not only throughout the year, but also during those crucial four to six weeks leading up to its biggest selling periods.

Initially, it had been using the reporting facilities of its ERP application, but the people who needed the reports and the people creating them found that this reporting capability was neither robust nor simple enough for typical, everyday use. In response, the company turned to New Generation Software (NGS) and its NGS-IQ BI solution. Phantom can now keep on top of its business, giving decision makers the information they need to ensure the company can inspire the spectacle of Fourth-of-July fireworks.

Setting Them Up

As humble beginnings go, few companies can trump Phantom. According to Koocher, the concept for the business began in the back of a station wagon, which B.J. Alan founder Bruce Zoldan used to sell fireworks. (The car was his mother's.) "Bruce took a few weeks off from working at his uncle's wholesale distribution company to sell fireworks," Koocher says. "He came back at the end of the summer and showed off a shoebox full of money. That's what got him started, and he soon met a gentleman from China who brokered goods from a fireworks factory - and the rest, as they say, is history."

That history now includes the permanent storefronts and seasonal stands that sell what Koocher calls "class C consumer fireworks." As he further explains, "They mimic the displays you'll see at Macy's or other professional fireworks shows, but they're smaller. They don't go up as high, and they don't make as much noise. We also sell these 500-gram aerial repeaters, which have anywhere from 16 to 200 shots apiece. So you light this small box up, step back and watch the show."

"I've never found it so easy to get information from the System I hardware into an Excel spread sheet without having to create a comma-separated file." -Mike Koocher, CIO, Phantom Fireworks

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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2019 Solutions Edition

A Comprehensive Online Buyer's Guide to Solutions, Services and Education.

A Reason to Celebrate

Phantom Fireworks teams IBM System i hardware with a BI solution and ERP software to launch reports.

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