Workshop

“How has WMS software maker Haven Corp.’s demise affected you?”

I had left Haven Corp. a couple of weeks before the announcement was made that it was shutting down. I wasn’t aware that the announcement was coming, but in retrospect it isn’t surprising. There were financial problems, things we knew about, but not in detail.

As for the generally sympathetic response to Bruce [Holmes, former president and CEO of Haven Corp.], it might just be due to his following. He does have a certain amount of charisma. You can see some of it if you’ve ever looked at the Haven manuals. They were humorous, and they even followed a story line.

Emilio Ramirez, Support Engineer Crossroads Systems Portland, OR

The Wizard is a great DOS-based program for companies with $5 million-$10 million in annual sales volume. We’ve used it for the last nine years with great success, but many people have had to migrate to something else. Bruce [Holmes] had sort of created a cult following among people to whom he sold his software.

After he announced that the company was ceasing operations, it quickly became clear that there were two major questions: 1) what’s going to happen to tech support, and 2) what’s going to happen to Bruce.

We set up a forum on eGroups for free and easy communication between Wizard and Castle users. It just snowballed and took on a life of its own. Then we began to open up closet doors and find out what skeletons were dangling in them. The month of September was a period of discovery that just got uglier as it went along. People are still finding out that operations have been suspended. I was contacted by several companies interested primarily in recovering assets – a customer list, codes – to increase their market share. Some of them were pretty predatory.

We began to plan a new entity with a few serious users willing to underwrite it, and ultimately found a company that had a significant interest in developing this end of the market. We’re very close to an agreement. The new company, which will be called the New Haven Software Corporation, plans to offer tech support at no charge to Wizard users whether they have paid or not. Our initial focus will be on converting the existing Haven customer base. We’re going to offer versions of the Wizard – at least a single-user version – for free. The only catch is that users will have to pay a nominal amount for service.

Tom Danner, President and CEO Advanced Multimedia Concepts Inc. Redmond, WA

We were all set to go with Haven’s Castle; we did a parallel test one day and decided it was pretty close, and then the next day we found out the business had closed its doors. We considered helping to absorb the Haven Corp. and keeping it alive somehow. My wife Kathy is the systems person here, and she was actively involved in that effort. She flew out to Chicago and discussed the possibilities. But our situation was such that we had to do something right away.

We are somewhat larger than most other Wizard users, and our business this year is up 50% and growing. We had to run two Wizard systems to accommodate the numbers. Wizard was small and pretty much bullet-proof if you didn’t mess with it. If you’re small – about $5 million a year – you can be happy with it. We were looking forward to Castle, but we ended up going with the M.O.M. system. In fact, we just went live last week.

John Milos, President and CEO Stylin’ Concepts Corp. Independence, OH

We have been limping along with the old Haven Wizard program. We looked at M.O.M. and Datamann, and we decided that we would be better off upgrading to Castle rather than changing systems altogether. That way we won’t lose our history. From everything I’ve heard and read, converting to a new system is complicated, expensive, and not a sure thing. We’re still using the DOS-based Wizard program. People are experiencing a lot of issues with the beta version of the new program.

We’re kind of hanging out there without technical support, hoping for the best during the holiday season. To change to a Windows-based WMS at this point in the year would just be a nightmare. Fortunately, we haven’t had any problems. We’re just going to wait it out. We put in a whole new NT network about a year ago, and that was money well spent. The system has been extremely stable ever since.

Eileen Mattsson, Financial Manager Beau Ties of Vermont Middlebury, VT

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