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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.

Although Phantom imports most of these fireworks, it owns a company - Diamond Sparklers - that manufactures, well, sparklers. It's the last company in the United States to do so. Phantom also assembles assortment fireworks packages, using imported fireworks to create variety packs. "You can buy one of our 50 different assortments and get a wide range of effects and colors," Koocher says.

The company sells its products through several channels. These include permanent point of sale, temporary tents and stands, limited wholesale and big-box store distribution. In the latter case, Phantom will go to the store and set up displays. The company also has a Web site, although, for legal reasons, it doesn't accept online orders for fireworks (specialty items such as T-shirts are available). The site, www.fireworks.com, does, however, offer product descriptions, location references and fireworks-safety tips. Notably, customers can call the company to place what Koocher calls "telemarketing orders," which can be picked up by the customers at local outlets.

With so many different distribution methods, Phantom requires a solid IT infrastructure. In this case, that includes two IBM* System i* 270s, one used for production and the other for development. The production box runs the VAI ERP application from Vormittag Associates Inc., which supports a number of financial and operational functions, including all of Phantom's accounting needs and inventory, order entry, purchasing and manufacturing. The company also uses the NGS software and Formtastic from Quadrant Software, the latter to produce electronic documents (and reduce its reliance on preprinted forms) and assist with barcoding and labeling.

Lighting the Fuse

As is evident by Phantom's many forms of importing, manufacturing, packaging and, most important, distribution, the company has a lot to keep track of - especially during its busy periods. As a result, reports are a necessity, giving management a way to track all of the comings and goings of company products. In the past, these reports were generated using the VAI ERP software. However, as Koocher explains, "Users perceived that the system didn't have all of the information they wanted." And conversely, they also felt that the reports had too much information. "VAI's reports are all-inclusive, and they're designed that way so one report can satisfy many different customers. So users were looking at reports with 20 different items on them, but only needed two."

The cost to have VAI customize the reports was too high for Phantom, so the company began investigating ways to more resourcefully create and deliver reports tailored to individual users. This would help the company in a number of ways, including lowering the cost of report development and creating more efficient reports, each one built for individual users. It would also help heal some of the ill will that had built up between Phantom and VAI over the reports and other issues.

This is when Koocher, who had been the MIS director for a New York City-based law firm, moved to Youngstown to become Phantom's CIO. "I knew I could bring peace to the land and happiness to all," he quips. Although this statement may be in jest, he was serious about making sure everyone got the assistance they needed, including the all-essential reports, as well as ensuring a truce between Phantom and VAI. As Koocher notes, "I started a quest for the Nobel Peace Prize."

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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