Lessons Learned to Build Your Second Business Better

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dan Aldridge, ERP Software Expert, Director North America of Merino Consulting Services, shares his expertise and insights on building a second business (The North American Division of Merino) to empower entrepreneurs building their businesses with useful knowledge to succeed in building theirs.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dan Aldridge, ERP Software Expert, Director North America of Merino Consulting Services, shares his expertise and insights on building a second business (The North American Division of Merino) to empower entrepreneurs building their businesses with useful knowledge to succeed in building theirs.

Dan is an accomplished leader with 25+ years of experience in corporate management, including ERP software and digital transformation. He’s recognized as a thought leader in the field, ranked #4 in the “Top 16 ERP Experts You Should Follow in 2022” by Washington Frank International.

His journey, from being a key figure in the success of three major ERP software companies – Baan, Infor Global Solutions, and Priority Software, to the founding and growth of Performa Apps, a leading Infor Global Solutions consulting firm, displays his extraordinary skill set and the value he brings to digital transformations.

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Get ready to learn the keys to building a business today, leveraging the knowledge from the past and the advances available today.

Damon starts the show with remarkable curiosity about the keys to building a business. Dan’s unique “ERP doctor” title catches Damon’s attention. He invites the guest to talk about his professional background.

Dan discusses his introduction to ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. He elaborates that this software is used across various industries, particularly manufacturing, to manage entire business operations. The concept originated with Material Requirements Planning (MRP) in the 80s, notably pioneered by SAP.

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Dan’s journey into ERP software began after leaving the government contracting sector. He recounts joining the Dutch company Baan in 1996, where he immersed himself in manufacturing companies like Carrier, Grove Cranes, Mercedes Benz during the M-class production, and Siemens. Dan’s passion for manufacturing and ERP emerged during this time, leading him to specialize in this field.

Damon asks Dan about his strong attraction to ERP software and assisting people in its more effective implementation.

Dan replies with two impactful stories that illustrate his fascination with ERP software. The first story involves his time at PV Electronics, a company famous for amplifiers and speakers. He encountered a diverse shop floor with surprising production lines, including guitar-making and music recording studios used by renowned rockstars like Van Halen. This experience sparked his fascination with the unique processes within manufacturing companies.

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The second story involves his interaction with Blue Bird, known for producing school buses. Dan’s curiosity led him to the shop floor, where he learned innovative techniques for assembling school buses.
Damon comments that Damon ERP software is indispensable and can bridge the gap between real-world operations and financial data.

Dan furthers the conversation by mentioning the trend in cloud-based ERP systems using examples like SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Fusion, Microsoft Dynamics, and Infor’s Cloud Suites. These systems are now hosted on the cloud, with various integrations, including e-commerce and automation.

Damon discusses the drawbacks of on-premise ERP and praises the benefits of browser-based systems. He asks Dan about his most exciting manufacturing experience among companies like Progress Rail, Mercedes Benz, and Carrier.

Dan discusses his work with Progress Rail, a major player in the railway industry. He developed Performance Apps, an ERP solution later evolved into Infor LN Cloud Suites, which catered to large companies like Progress Rail. He highlights Progress Rail’s extensive operations, including building railway cars and innovative track maintenance machines with circular saws. Dan emphasizes the complexity of their ERP implementation, spanning numerous plants and integrating with existing systems.

The Progress Rail project was a significant achievement for Dan’s consulting firm, with a multi-million-dollar value. He also shares his experience at Progress Rail’s charity golf tournament at their Alabama headquarters along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, providing a laid-back networking opportunity.

Damon, impressed by the machinery used in railway track maintenance, reflects on the considerable effort required for lifting tracks and ballast placement.

Similarly, at Damon’s request, Dan explains how AI transforms ERP systems through automation and improved decision-making processes. He provides examples of AI implementation in ERP, starting with optical character recognition software that automates invoice data entry, followed by AI automating the three-way matching process in accounts payable. He notes that AI can also analyze customer payment patterns to determine their creditworthiness, helping accounts receivable make informed decisions.

The host encourages Dan to continue discussing the topic.

Dan raises concerns about the potential risks of integrating AI into ERP systems. He cautions against exposing sensitive internal data to these generative transformers. Moreover, highlighting the dual nature of AI’s evolution, Dan draws a parallel to the Terminator movie series, which conveys both the promise and potential dangers of AI advancement.

The guest also touches on the impact of AI on content generation, mentioning how rapidly evolving AI-generated writing can challenge human creators to keep pace.

Damon mentions how an Israeli-based company called Priority Software approached Dan for a strategic acquisition in the United States. He requests Dan to highlight the differences and new aspects of his current role at Merino compared to his previous experiences.

Dan reveals that his acquisition by Priority Software was strategic due to his reputable name in the ERP market, where his knowledge was valuable compared to other ERP providers. It was a win-win because Dan, too, sought to transition away from entrepreneurship and explore new opportunities within the industry.

Despite Priority Software’s success in Israel, they faced a reality check in the US market, where brand recognition and competition were significant hurdles. Dan turned to buying leads from sources like Software Advice to generate leads, but even qualified leads often led to unresponsive potential customers.

Damon asks about the changes Dan has made to the strategy at Merino based on the insights he gained from his past experiences.

“I absolutely love the people I work with. Cool!” Dan explains that Marino, unlike his previous venture, is a partner of Infor Global Solutions, which gives them better brand recognition. Its marketing strategy heavily involves videos, especially on platforms like YouTube. Merino has a strong team with about 130 consultants spanning Europe and North America.

As the conversation draws closer to its conclusion, Damon finds it intriguing how Dan’s approach has shifted, focusing on content creation, videos, and LinkedIn engagement, recognizing that buyer behavior has evolved in how they make purchasing decisions.

Dan describes how reaching out through LinkedIn InMail messages has become an effective way to establish connections and build relationships. According to Dan, relying on conventional sources of paid leads with email addresses has been put into question due to their diminishing impact, while LinkedIn interactions take the forefront.

The conversation concludes with Damon thanking Dan for his time.

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Damon Pistulka, Dan Aldridge

Damon Pistulka 00:02
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am very excited for our show today. Because I’ve got Dan Aldridge of from Marino consulting services. And we’re gonna be talking about lessons learned to build your second business better. And, Dan, welcome.

Dan Aldridge 00:29
Hello, everybody. Thank you.

Damon Pistulka 00:31
Well, it is going to be awesome. We got going here before the show is started. And man, I tell you what, Dan, we got a lot to talk about. That’s for sure. Because there’s some fun stuff. And so the way we like to start out usually is we’d like to hear how did Dan get going? What’s your background? How you really got into being the what is it? Say? I got it, we got okay, sorry, we’re gonna slow down here a minute, I gotta go back to this because you are the ERP doctor. I’ve never never heard that before. I thought that was great. And it because oh, let’s let’s see what led up to being Dan, becoming the ERP doctor, forming your company performance apps to help people want to hear about that. And then eventually, you sold your company to help another company, come into the United States. And ultimately, we’ll get to our our topic about building your second business better, because with Marino, you’re helping them come into the United States. And this is your second time around. So let’s get started. Dan, I went that was long winded, but I had to go I had to find the ERP doctor, because I saw that that’s cool. So

Dan Aldridge 01:57
okay, so how I got into ERP software, ERP stands for enterprise resource planning, by the way for anybody who doesn’t know that. And it’s a type of software used in manufacturing companies, and well, actually lots of different types of companies to run their entire business. But it got its start in, in manufacturing companies. So there was originally something called Material requirements planning, which was production planning for software that started in the 80s, essentially, so there was a little company called SAP, which started in the 80s, of building the software. And I actually got into ERP software, I came out of government contracting, thank God, I live in the DC area, and I interviewed with a Dutch company called Bond ba n. It was the name for the founder Yan bond, who was a pioneer in this industry in the ERP. And at the time, they were the second biggest ERP software company in the world. And I interviewed in 96, and got the job and started right out on into manufacturing companies. So I was at carrier and Grove cranes and all kinds of different manufacturers, Mercedes Benz when they were building their M class, Siemens, lots of different kinds of companies. And I just basically fell in love with manufacturing in ERP, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Damon Pistulka 03:30
So, what really hooked you on ERP software, you know, helping people implement it better, what really hooked you

Dan Aldridge 03:41
that I have so many stories, but I’ll tell you one in particular, that kind of gives you an example of the kind of the, the hook that that got into me at being in manufacturing companies. I was at a company when I was at Bonn, called PV electronics. PV is is a company in the middle of Mariquita, Meridian, Mississippi and second largest city in Mississippi and about 50,000 people, I think, but it’s way out in the middle of nowhere. And they make you they’re famous for amplifiers and speakers. So if you go to a rock concert for instance, you’ll see pm in that kind of writing right and PV electronics and I got the pleasure of implementing been at PV and I was their finance consultant. So I got to go there and see their operation which included a shop floors and met shop floor that that is goes for blocks and blocks and they make all kinds of things in addition to amplifiers and speakers. They make guitars, for example, I had no idea PV make guitars, and I went down on the shop floor and I met up with this guy who was the shop floor supervisor. And he looked like Wavy Gravy, right? He was had the long hair and he had like a ponytail. And he had a leather vest. And he was over there in the in the testing area. And I was like, What are you testing? And he goes up testing guitars. And he was just jamming out on his BB guitar. And, and, you know, I was like, oh my god, this is the most amazing thing. And when did you want to see the do you want to see the studio? And I said, you got a studio? And they said, Yeah, it’s a room over here. And and one of the other buildings, I went over there. And they had all these pictures of all the rockstars like Van Halen and all these guys, and they had a full studio where you could record and they had guitars and drums and you know, had all the amps and everything all PB equipment. And you basically that’s where the guys like Van Halen had been to jam. Wow. So that kind of thing that, you know, that really hooked me another one that hooked me was and this was bit after, after I founded my consulting firm. But you know, Bluebird, right? Yeah. School buses. Yep. People that were, you know, and if you see in movies, if you see a school bus, it’s a lot of times it’s a bluebird school bus. You know, I noticed these things, because I put in their software for them. Yeah. So I got to see how they make the buses, you know, and I said, I’m a finance guy, right. So I, I went up to the ivory tower first, right when I got there, and went to the ivory tower. And they said, that’s where all the finance guys I was, I want to go where the where the action is, I want to go see the shop floor, right? So I went on the shop floor, and they’re, they’re have these chasis and the engines go up, they have a conveyor belt, and the engines come and get laid in there. And then they do they flip the chassis over in the they put the cab on from underneath, which we’re gonna get one of the shopfloor guys came up with this idea to flip it over. And then they flip it back and put on the cap. Yeah. And I was just like, God, this is fascinating. And they said, you want to see, you want to see our inventory? And I said, Yes, sure. And they said, we’ll go out in the back there by the dock. And there’s our inventory. So I go out the back. And there’s like for miles and miles, there’s buses, as far as you can see, and that’s their glory. Wow, it was just, it was just the most fascinating thing. And I thought to myself, well, I’ve really arrived exactly what I want to do. And there’s so many interesting companies that are that are doing this stuff. And even though it’s like not the most fashionable thing, right now, it’s kind of the back office kind of people think it’s like the grunt stuff and all of that, it to me, it’s still fascinating. And I see the innovations that they’re doing in it, and they’re adding AI, they’re adding all these other things into it. Now, to make it to make it better. And they’re, they’re hooking it up with the machines. And, you know, I saw your big commerce thing. So that’s the commerce, the front end for the ERP. So the ERP is kind of boring. And it does the the work of the production planning and things like that. But it’s still very important. And obviously, it’s the core of what a manufacturing company and actually many other types of companies, distribution companies, and all they run on ERP as well.

Damon Pistulka 08:43
Yeah, well, it really, I mean, in a lot of companies, it’s without an E just don’t have a financial gauge of anything. Because it ties the real world to the the numbers. And that’s, that’s a critical step that was missing when you talked about MRP or any of the predecessors to the ERPs. Right. It just didn’t have the connection to the, to the dollars and, and stuff. And it was I loved it, dude. I love it. Dude, I need your manufacturing. Yeah, in my lifetime. And at smaller systems, obviously. I mean, we the we did do like Epicor system at the end, but but it’s still that was in a smaller manufacturing. But before that you had just separate systems, right? You’d have your your system that you keep your inventory on, if she wasn’t connected to your finance system. And at the end of the month, they’d have to put the numbers in the others and all the other crazy stuff that they had to do. And that was quite a process. It was quite a process. It was quite a process when I can remember when the first systems came out because I was still when I was in college. I was working in a company it was lucky they were growing and they’re like, Hey, you put the software in we Don’t know how to do it, you put it in, and then it was actually the first stab at keeping inventory in an accounting package that they had bought. So I remember what it was, but you know, that was a big deal in those days in and now you look at what these these ERP systems have evolved to, and how they’re still that core core center of these businesses to allow them to operate, like, you know, just from ordering things to letting their customers order things to crack the books out at the end of the month, or whenever they need them, and, and all the other information needs. So it’s been a heck of a change for you, I’m sure, as you seen these systems go from, you know, the old legacy things that were running on some specialized computer in the back to now I share a lot of these people are using Cloud resources to run their systems.

Dan Aldridge 11:00
Yeah, so a good example is, well, actually all of them s for HANA, ERP, like Oracle Fusion, cloud dynamics, Microsoft Dynamics, finance and operations. They’re all running on the cloud now, infor has one called the cloud Suites, which, of course, I’ve done some writing about that. And it’s, it’s great. I mean, you know, as you log in with a browser, everything in the enforce case is on AWS. So it’s all housed there. All the integrations with things like E commerce, and everything would be also on the cloud. And it’s, it’s got automation built in. Now, business process flows, and things like that. And the, and the connections, the API’s, and things like that, or connections, is all is all built in. And it’s, it’s all on the cloud, right? So you know, if you have an on premise system, you’re missing out on on the newest things, right? And the newest functionality and newest capabilities, right? Because they’re not going to continue to develop so much the on premise. I mean, they’ll they’ll keep it around, and they’ll sunset it gradually, right? Because there’s so many people on it, it’s like, yes, yeah, he’s on ECC, almost everybody is on ECC, or or three, maybe even, there’s some are three still around, I think. But they want you to go to SAP S for HANA Cloud, right? Which, which is a is quite a process. I mean, it’s not a, it’s not a straightforward migration path for that, you know, it all

Damon Pistulka 12:47
sounds ugly, it also is ugly, because the simplicity of having a browser based is is undeniable. And if you can get the get the features out of it. That’s because that used to be the holdup, right? You couldn’t get the features from a browser based system like you could from on premise kind of thing. Right. And and so that’s, that’s cool. If that’s happening. So let’s, let’s go back just a little bit because you touched on this, you said you’re at p v. Thought that was cool. You mentioned some other places that are very interesting. So you’re at the the Mercedes Benz or carrier what out of these places. What’s the most interesting manufacturer when you walk in and went wow, I had no idea that was made that way or that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen made.

Dan Aldridge 13:40
Actually, it isn’t any of those I mentioned. Very cool. It’s another company called progress rail. Okay,

Damon Pistulka 13:49
progress rail.

Dan Aldridge 13:50
So progress rail is is was one of my, one of my customers. When I saw I built my just to fill in a little bit, I built performance apps, which was an infor ln, which what which is what Bond came to be called, went in for took it out. Actually, they bought SSA who had bought BA, but it became infor ln, now it’s the infor ln based cloud sweets, okay. But along that way, when I was building performance apps, I went to a one of their in forums. So I was looking for a good size client. And actually I had another little side story. I hired the project manager from PV to be to be my program, manage over all my projects because she was so incredible. And I remembered her and years later, I hired her on to a project. So I was with her meeting with the guys from progress rail now progress rail is, I believe they’re over 20 billion. This is a massive company. And it’s not Even the hype, it’s it’s it’s part of it’s a division of caterpillar. So caterpillar is, of course over 100 billion. So there’s a couple divisions that we’re running in for LM. But they’re also running SAP, they run, you know, all of these huge companies run multiple ERPs. You can’t get away from it. But anyway, progress rail is the biggest company in the rail, railway business. So they build railway cars. They build all kinds of crazy stuff like machines, these huge machines that go along tracks, they lift up the tracks, they repair the ties, they put down balance. Yep, exactly. Though progress rail makes those things I call that they mass things that are like big cranes. And they have a circular saw at the top of the crane. And what it does is as it goes down, as you can imagine all the trees overhanging the tracks. Oh, yeah. So it cuts the tree limbs, and then it mulches, the trillion. Or maybe a separate machine that does that. Yeah. But how cool is that? Like something you’d never think of? Yeah, well, how how do the how do the limbs of the trees get get trimmed? Well, it’s this thing going along the track, and cutting up cutting it off with a circular soft box, it’s just cool as hell and they do everything related to they do service to they have a massive service organization, they’re putting into soft ERP and about 157 plants. So you can imagine the scale of something like this, this is a multi multi year project. And you know, Caterpillar is running, I believe running SAP at corporate. So there’s integrations and replacements and you know, this and that and MES systems that they have to hook it up to the machines. And you can just imagine the scale of something like that. But in terms of a product and this is just a massive project. Of course it was multiple millions for us. It was a it was a huge project for us. It kind of made us in a way right being a small consulting firm to win that project was was was massive for us. But anyway, the product that they make is just so cool. And they would always have me down for they have a golf tournament Christmas for kids. Yeah, and it’s down at their headquarters is in Albertville, Alabama. So another place way out in the country. But the you familiar with the Robert Trent Jones, golf golf trail, it’s called the golf trail. Robert Trent Jones. It goes through Alabama and you know, various other southern states, but it’s just an absolutely gorgeous thing. And we all go off at once and you know, have our T shirts and they give you know, or golf shirts and everything. It’s really nice event go out and drink beers hang out with the bikers. Yeah, just fantastic.

Damon Pistulka 18:16
Yeah. Good stuff. So that you know, we the the BNSF runs one of the main Rails runs very close to my house and I’m I see that kind of equipment that’s amazing some of the track laying equipment or even here because it is a main line. I mean, the amount of work that it takes just lifting the track up, young re pushing the ballast under it and then read the

Dan Aldridge 18:41
ties they replaced the ties slide and eyes under admin

Damon Pistulka 18:45
side them out and slide a man hazing most of its concrete now and the ties at least where we’re at here. But then the amount of this the keeping the rock that’s supporting that the rails firm and re re you know, making sure that the track is level like it’s supposed to be and it just sits there and does that just keeps chunking and you hear it’s amazing though that equipment and yeah, yeah, you see it, I see it running all the time. And I didn’t I had no idea whether it’s made because it’s, there is so much specialty stuff around rail, like you said, the I can remember seeing some of the big snow blowers that they have to make the specialty snowblowers for when you get up in the northern roots, and that’s amazing. It’s amazing junk. Amazing stuff. Yeah, so cool. So cool. So 100 It’s a massive project. How many? I mean, how many fingers are touching something like that?

Dan Aldridge 19:45
So it’s it’s a lot. Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 19:47
yeah. So as you’re as you’re looking at that. What are some of the stories that really stuck with you about these systems and How the ERP really changed the way that the companies operated made them operate better, you know, things like that

Dan Aldridge 20:12
just just something about how they got better or so they Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 20:17
just under selling things like someone, someone stopped me and just said, Listen, this thing has changed the way that we’ve been able to do business, or we were never able to do this before, and now it works, or, you know, some of those things like,

Dan Aldridge 20:29
Yeah, I think I think it was a lot the, the production process and the planning process and the lead times being able to really cut the lead times and, you know, increase the quality and, and get some feedback from the machines and things like that when they integrated with the MES. System. So that’s, that’s been the uptime of the of the equipment and everything like that. Just just more efficiency, and just improving the process and the quality, a lot of lot of anecdotal, things like that. But there’s also metrics, you know, that they had KPIs, of course, yeah, yeah. And KPIs were a lot of more financial in nature. But you know, improve, prove profitability and things like that. But there’s, so there’s a lot of metrics like that on time delivery, things like that supplier lead time. You know? Yeah, that mean, there’s ability to, to improve the vendor ratings and things like that. There’s a lot of that sort of stuff that you don’t think about inside the software. But I think the major parts are the multi. So they have multi site planning, also, which is a huge thing, right? Because you have coordinate between these sites, you have to get them all up on the system running on the system before that works, right. But you can coordinate between them. And they, they set up some EDI and some communications stuff like that with their suppliers as well. And with cat, they had to coordinate with cat to Yeah, or the parks and stuff like that. So there was some coordination between the different divisions and with it with the headquarters, which we call can improve for did a did improve with the with the systems input? Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 22:26
Very cool. So you’ve been working with a will be in the ERP doctor, you’ve been working with the ERP for a while,

Dan Aldridge 22:33
that’s my little book. Tag, I have a hashtag the ERP doctor, you can follow it and it’s got all rice on it.

Damon Pistulka 22:42
The okay, that hashtag the ERP doctor. All right. Well, the the. So let’s talk we’re gonna get into Priority software Marino in just a moment. But let’s talk a little more about ERP, you know, because we’re at, we’re at kind of a interesting time here. Yeah, because we have ERP systems in specific and we have this massive groundswell, whatever you want to call it of AI, that these large language models have come out. And you know, everybody thinks they’re going to change the world, which I’m sure they’re going to do a lot they already have. But how do you see AI really coming into play in ERP?

Dan Aldridge 23:36
So I wrote a post about this statement, how AI is transforming ERP, I think a lot of it is going to be in terms of automation of processes. So you have I’ll give an example. And, you know, you might say this is machine learning versus AI, there’s a thin line distinction between the two but but example would be, so you have these optical character resolution recognition software, that when you when you bring in an invoice, so they send you an invoice, you scan it with the software, and it picks out all the information like the invoice number, the PIO number and everything, and it reads it into the ERP. So it’s kind of an automated way of reading the information in. Okay, some of that information is, by definition dirty. The end, there’s a couple other processes that humans normally do like matching to the receipt, like matching to the PIO. AI can automate that process entirely. So it can perform what’s called the three way match. You might have heard of a threeway match, right? That’s an accounts payable, match to receipt number two, match to Pio number three. Okay, there’s the three way match. So a I can automate that. And it can also figure out ways to clean up the data, too. So it can identify patterns from suppliers, different suppliers, you know what they’re doing differently, things like that. So it can sort of automate that whole process and start to learn about a supplier. Okay, another example would be and this is this is what I put in my article, which is a terminator themed article by the way. I put in another example of credit and collections, right? So you have a credit a credit limit, a credit balance, invoices past to 3060 90 whatever the patterns may be, AI can interpret the patterns of a particular customer, they can say well, they’re constantly overdue by and they have this huge balance over 90 This is not a good customer. This is a bad customer. This is a customer we should put on credit hold. This is a customer we should reevaluate with Dun and Bradstreet that you know what I’m saying? Yeah, it basically tell the accounts receivable manager or clerk, this is a good customer. This is a bad customer and here’s why. Huh? That’s another example. Of course you got copilot like Microsoft’s version is called copilot in fourth version is called Coleman, and I’m just getting into it, it’s it seems to be very interesting. So I’m digging into those different you know, different ERP vendors AI capability, but the one that is most well known as Microsoft with copilot, okay, so copilot is large language or generative AI, you know, that’s, that’s sitting right beside you. And you ask him questions, and it generates content for you or generates answers to your questions that you’re having right here. So theoretically, it can be hooked up to dynamics 365, which is their ERP, they have a couple different flavors of ERP, and you have copilot there. That’s, that’s kind of alongside you with an agenda AI capability, helping you make decisions. So it’s already here, that’s already here. It’s getting it’s getting into more processes. They’re they’re rapidly working in into more processes, and all the ERP their vendors are doing this.

Damon Pistulka 27:37
Yeah. Well, it seems like it’s going to, like a lot of automation does help the people doing the processes be more effective? Yes, at this point, you’re

Dan Aldridge 27:48
radically Theoretically yes. And not take their jobs. Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 27:53
Yeah. Well, I mean, honestly, if you look at manufacturers, they can’t hire enough people to do what they want. I mean, we’ve talked about physical automation with robotics and other things. And we we talked for well over a decade, not 20 years, about how robotics, we’re going to displace all these people. And, honestly, we have so many people retiring out of the workforce, and we can’t attract people into manufacturing fast enough, we, the robotics just saved save the industry of anything, because we don’t have the numbers of people that we we really would forget someone centers like for 4 million or I forget millions of jobs that are opening manufacturing with a cat fail right now.

Dan Aldridge 28:36
Ya know, and so old guys like me are retiring.

Damon Pistulka 28:39
Yeah, we’re walking out the door. I mean, that’s like, but it’s the the interesting thing, I think, is that when you look at ERP, you look at some of the customer facing stuff. And what AI can really do in conjunction with other systems is really allow our people that are interfacing with customers be smarter. And because if you think the way that if your ERP system is holding, you know, product data about what Damon’s company ordered from you, and I’m someone that’s calling about customer service, right, we’ve got a problem, we need to order some parts, maybe aftermarket kind of stuff, not aftermarket, but some OEM replacement parts. And so I’m, I’m on the line trying to help get those parts ordered for them. It’s my third day, or I’m even there, I’ve been there a year right. And this is this is an older piece of equipment or it’s a piece of equipment that I’m not familiar with for some sort, that AI or that that working together with the rights system, like an ERP system and the data and how it can go. It can help them a lot to show them what did we order and get them to the right information to help them get what they need.

Dan Aldridge 29:58
And that’s what I talk about this a little bit in my article as well. There’s some dangers in that. So if you if you keep a firewall around internal data that an ERP system stores and there’s a lot of it, oh, yeah, competitive information, financial information, things like that. If you if you if you’re not careful, or you don’t put guardrails around the dark side sodas, oh, yeah, there can be competitive information that, that a chat GPT can get a hold of, or even something that’s internal to an ERP system? Because it’s looking outside and it’s looking inside. Yeah. And and improperly used or, or turned on, in essence. It could it could, you know, in all seriousness, you know, and I have a terminator theme to it, partly because it’s fun, but partly because it’s scary. Yeah, it is scary. And competitive information and things. Like Another example is writing code. Right? The coders are probably the smartest guys in the room. And the guys that created this thing. I hesitate to call it a monster. It’s not a monster. It’s it’s a tool. They created this tool. Now they’re busy watching as this tool learns how to program better than they do.

Damon Pistulka 31:27
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Which must

Dan Aldridge 31:31
be really frightening for people. And and, you know, the interesting thing is, and you brought up robotics and things, that’s a blue collar thing. This is a white collar thing. Yeah. Different people being that could potentially be displaced by this kind of technology, our white collar people. Right, like take, I’m just postulating here, I’m not not manufacturing, let’s take a researcher in a law firm or a paralegal. What does the paralegal do? That AI can’t do? Much faster. I mean, to me, it’s not a creative thing. I feel as though, you know, since I’m writing, I, I like to think I’m a creative person. And I can make something that AI can’t yet beat. It’s something that comes from me, like my writing. And, but AI is gonna get there. It probably can get there. I mean, it already can do images, it can do video, it can do all that stuff. And it’s pretty darn creative. If you look at it, right. So so for me, and that’s why, you know, like in Hollywood, they’re all up in arms. And anybody who’s in a creative type position should be that this thing is what they fear for their jobs. Yeah. You know, and there was a quote that I have in my thing, it’s about James is James Cameron, who was the director. He said, Call me when you call me and tell me that Chet GBT won an Oscar, then I’ll believe it’s arrived. Yeah, you know, and I’m like, well, that’s a little bit pompous, in a way, right? Because jet GPT is, it could probably, who knows what it’ll be in two months? We don’t know what it’ll be. I mean, I still think it’s way behind in terms of creative writing, as I tried to use Gen AI, and I tried to make a new blog for myself. And it was pretty bad. I have to say it was pretty bad. And maybe I’m just biased because I liked my own writing. But, you know, you know what I mean? It’s, it’s not quite there yet. But, but it’s, you know, and that brings me to something that I wanted to throw in here real quick. I have I’m part of this. There’s a website called solutions review solutions. review.com. And they have an expert port, what they call an expert portal, and I’m part of it. So I have been seeing they just put up and they’re going to fully launch it in September. So it’s not fully launched. But I’ve seen my little avatar and I’ve seen so my content there already. And it’s going to be a members only thing you pay $500 a year to have access to us experts. I still think it’s funny that I’m an expert. But you will have access to our content. Also. Some webinars, podcasts, and messaging and be able to book some time with us. So I think it’s a great I think it’s a great thing. And when I met with the guys, they said we saw your we they said we looked at some of your articles before but we think this one The AI in ERP one was was kind of special. And we thought we’d give you a call and invite you into the experts. Very cool. Because it’s yeah, thank you. It’s a because it’s a great topic, first of all, and it’s a great add on to my ERP that I already love, you know, but what they said to me, which was really interesting, was they said, We want to create a safe haven for you as a creator, say, from what say, from chat DPT? You know, yeah, and I think that, that that general thing is something that we need to be aware of, I mean, any business take any business, you know, my business, your business, any business, is that’s on the internet that has information that’s out there. Right? Could be you know, they could be affected by chat GPT or any other Gen AI, or they call them golems. Now, they’re calling them. I forget what that stands for. But it’s large language model. Gollum. I just saw a thing about that. But, but anyway, it’s going to be really interesting for any company. And also it’s going to affect marketing and things like that. Right. So content generation. Oh, with AI. I mean, it already is, I mean, you guys showed me a thing where you can make a video, and it writes a blog post, it writes a LinkedIn post to announce the blog post. And you have the video as an asset. But chat TBT or whatever engine that they have Gen AI engine is making content and you know, a creator like me can’t keep up with that. Yeah, it’s just way too fast.

Damon Pistulka 36:55
Yeah, yeah, it’s gonna be interesting how some of that goes in. And as we, you know, it’s like anything, I think we’re gonna have some big stumbles. And we’re asking big, big jumps forward. So let’s, let’s talk a little bit about you know, so you started performance apps. Man, it was, it was a little while ago.

Dan Aldridge 37:16
Yeah, it was a long time ago. And,

Damon Pistulka 37:19
and then priority software approached you. And they said, Listen, we want to come to the United States. And you can, can you just generally explain why why you were a prestigious strategic acquisition for them. And then a couple of things you’re gonna learn, and then we’ll, let’s talk about getting into your second go around this with Marino and how it differs, some of the things that you’re doing now that you weren’t doing before, I think it’s really interesting.

Dan Aldridge 37:51
Yeah, so the first thing is that it was strategic for them to acquire my company, because we had a really good reputation in the market. We were already a sophomore software partner of infor. So we already had that experience, we had a consulting practice that, frankly, had some really good cash flow on it. So they wanted to get that revenue stream, they wanted to get somebody who had a, I had a relatively good name. In the ERP software market in general, right is known, known as somebody who knows something about ERP software. And then I had already built that business and won big contracts. So they looked at that too, is that he’s built that business one big contracts as a consulting cashflow, and knows the market. Yes, most importantly, probably knows the US market versus SAP or anybody else who was in the market. So how to sell person. So that’s how they came to be acquiring me acquiring my company, and I was I was ready. I was tired of being an entrepreneur and you know, you get you get your ups and your downs. And we were doing quite well when I when I sold but I had, I had some other investors and I told them, I wanted to develop a Microsoft Dynamics 365 practice in addition to the the other one, and they said, No, we’ll just kind of sit back and take your cash flow. We were pretty pleased with that. So So I said, no, like, I want to be shocked. Now I want to I want to be acquired by another company, because that’s not the direction that I want to go in. So anyway, so that’s, that’s how it came to be. So Right?

Damon Pistulka 39:41
Yeah. Priority priority wanted to come to the US. Yes. And, and you already had the presence in the US and explain, you know, their strategic reason for buying you guys. If you can.

Dan Aldridge 39:56
Well, yeah, that’s basically just what I said. I mean, knowing the market It means you know that I could sell against other ERP vendors here had developed a company had built a company before that was quite successful all those small. So those those were really the main reasons. And I knew the market and I had a good reputation on LinkedIn and some other places. I was I was known in the market. Yeah.

Damon Pistulka 40:25
Let’s let’s fast forward now. So So you had built Performa, you got bought out with a strategic acquisition for them to come. They wanted to come to the US. So you’re done with that? And your your past? Priority? Yeah, priority because performance company that you sold the priority. Merino comes to you. They say, hey, we want to come to the US, Dan, we want you to lead our North American operations or US operation. Exactly, for sure. But what was the first thought that came with your head? Oh, shit, can I say? Yeah, that’s good. That’s awesome. No, it is because it’s like it to me looking at it from the outside. You’re like, I just got out of this. Now I’m going to come back again. Because you had been in performer you know, you started that 20 years ago, I lost

Dan Aldridge 41:30
it. Well, I’ll tell you, there’s a number of differences and a number of things that I learned. Yeah. Okay, so number one priority software is an Israeli based company. Number two, the ERP software market is very crowded. Probably any one of a number of 150 different ERP software packages can do virtually the same job. Number three, zero name recognition in this market zero. Number four, a, an impression, I guess they had impression of themselves that because they’re the number one in the Israeli market, that they that things were going to be easy for them here that they were going to do what they did in Israel. And that includes acquisitions of companies in Israel to fill holes that were in the product. Like HCM, they didn’t have a payroll, they didn’t have you know, this and that things that sometimes they’re in ERP, sometimes not. But in Israel, they could kind of fill it with as you know, Israel is different than the US in every way. Yeah, what you know, different payroll, different HCM, different, you know, different marketing different, you know, market situation. You know, I mean, their only real well, their biggest competitor was SAP Business One, and they’re over half of the market. So, they, they figured things would be easy. So they go, well, let’s just go and tell everybody that’s running in for ln to use priority. You mean, the $20 billion company that yeah, is gonna run priority, which is like, kind of QuickBooks on steroids. I mean, no, it’s not gonna happen. And that, that, so So I did the only thing that I know how to do, right does generate leads. I searched on Google, right, I came up with, you know, ERP software, selection, whatever. So I found top 10 ERP, I found Software Advice, which is a gardener company. I said, we got to buy leads, guys. We got to buy leads. That’s, you know, we have no brand recognition, we have nothing. So we’re gonna go after this. So you know, that’s, that is a really tough slog. So not only are you fighting against 150 Other vendors, who are well, you know, many of whom are more well known than you and are American. Yeah, you’re also having to go against five. Well, they say five SoftwareAdvice says, they qualify the leads, and then they give five names to the company, right? Including priority. Okay, you have to pay for that lead. And the bigger the company in terms of revenue, the more competition you’re going to have because it brings in SAP and Oracle comes in and NetSuite and you know, and so on, and you have to probably run it along. I’m just just to talk to you Yeah, it’s it’s. So you call, you’re the sales guy, right? You call, nobody answers the phone anyway, you get the answering machine, then you send them an email, which is supposedly their email. They don’t send anything back. They go priority who? They’re probably not calling back the other four either. Yeah. But it’s it’s supposedly qualified. It’s not qualified at all. It’s just somebody who visited their website and said, Hey, I want to I want the names of a couple of people. So you know what I’m saying? So

Damon Pistulka 45:33
this is a hard lesson. This is a hard lesson that you had to go through that I wanted it. I wanted to hear you talk about that a little bit, because we were hitting it. Because really, we’re talking about lessons learned to build your second one better. So as Marino now, you know, you had to you had to you had to go out European leads, you’re doing this kind of things. How is your strategy changed now that you know what you learned from that?

Dan Aldridge 46:01
Right. So so first of all, the the biggest difference is that Marino is a partner of infor Global Solutions. Okay, which is rather well known. Yeah. So they’re probably considered name. No. Yeah, it’s a name already. It’s an American name. So that’s another advantage. Right? Now, I would argue that they don’t have as good brand recognition as that the big three or whatever, right. But, so my, my, so I’ve got that going for me, right. And we’re not actually trying to sell the software. We’re, we’re actually alliance partners, which means we sell with info on these net new deals. Okay. So that’s a big change. And then we also have the upgrades, which is we put ourselves in position as as a really reputable consulting firm in Europe, and we’re building our practice. I’m hiring people, we’re going to do a big boot camp. So we’re thinking really big in the US, right. But we can do also the upgrade projects. Yeah. Right. So we have that. We have that as an option as well, which we didn’t have anything because priority was Greenfield. And it was a foreign country. Software. Yeah. Unknown. They didn’t pay any attention to the analysts. So this this time around and paying attention to the analysts, I’m courting the analysts. I’m writing thought leadership material on LinkedIn, as part of the it’s a multi tier strategy, but the marketing is video, heavy video, because there’s a guy named Eric Kimberling. Who if you’ve searched ERP software, there’s there’s a few of them. There’s Sam Gupta of Elevate IQ, which I really like. There’s John gross from PepsiCo, which I really like. But Eric, Kim Kimberling, is the one that kind of dominates the airwaves, if you will, right. YouTube, because he comes out with another YouTube, I think he comes out with like, for a day or something. Yeah. Right. So he’s very prolific on YouTube. And his company is doing very well with digital transformations. And so we’re, we’re cozy with them. We’re coding within for we’re very good lines partner. We do good projects, we have our own methodology. We have on the order of 130 consultants, spanning Europe and North America, we do global projects really, really well. Right. So once that have plants, which many, many companies these days do write plants in Europe, and in the US, and maybe a headquarters in the US, we handle those projects extremely well. Yeah, we’re very, one of the highest if not the highest doing our particular brands. Add In for the reputation is extremely good. And like I said, that they’re amongst the management. There’s there’s guys that are old bond guys, too. Yeah. Right. So where are you started with with where I started? And so that’s all great. And I love the people I work with. I absolutely love the people I work with. Cool. I had some issues with Israelis. I just didn’t listen.

Damon Pistulka 49:16
Well, I think. I think it’s really cool, though, that you’re able to go through the experience with priority because it gave you so much foundational experience to be able to do it differently with with Marino now. And it’s also very interesting how your approach has changed with you know, writing the content, doing the videos and the other things that that you’re doing and being active on on LinkedIn just because the the buyers have changed how they buy.

Dan Aldridge 49:49
Yes, this is a huge point. It’s a huge difference. It’s a huge difference even between now and five years ago. I mean, LinkedIn, LinkedIn was not near what it is now, in terms of, it’s almost like the engine for relationship building. You can’t you can’t like say I reach out to you and this is how we met. Right? Yeah, met on LinkedIn. And I reached out to you with a LinkedIn InMail message. Right? It’s, it’s I don’t know, your email addressed. I don’t know, your email address, you’re probably gonna ignore an email address from me anyway, right. But you look at my profile on LinkedIn, InMail. And you go, Ah, this guy maybe knows something. He he seems to have a relatively interesting profile. I’m going to engage with him. And before you know it, we have a relationship. Yeah. And you know, it’s, it’s, that’s the way you get business done these days. LinkedIn is a huge, huge thing. And I even think that with these, these old sources of paid leads that have email addresses are almost getting to be useless. Right? And you’re competing with four or five other vendors. When you go into a situation like that. I think you’re just spending a lot of money. He’s just going down the tubes. Yeah, you’re right. You need to become, you need to become you almost have to at some level in a company, especially a consulting company, especially a consulting company. At some level, you almost have to be a thought leader. Yeah. Right. Because it’s coming to you. You know, Eric Kimberling, he doesn’t have to go doing outbound marketing. That guy just sits there. Yeah, and bleeds pour in. He’s hiring like crazy. That guy right now is hiring like crazy. Yeah. Eats, eats. And I think John Gross is doing it too. I don’t know, people are

Damon Pistulka 51:55
seeking information. People are seeking information to solve their problems. And when you’re doing the videos, like, like you’re doing and these other people are doing, you’re writing the content, the articles. So explain talk about these problems, talk about solutions, these problems. I mean, this is this is old school. This is they ask you answer was I forget the name, the author that wrote a book right now Marcus Sheridan, I think it is, you know, it’s, it’s what people how people are buying, and it’s so interesting to hear you talk about your different approach, because the buyers, the way people buy has changed so much, like you said, the last five years even.

Dan Aldridge 52:40
So you and you want you want demonstration videos, that’s what people want to see. They want to see a demo of the product. Remember, I was asking? I was like, show me a demo. Show me how it works. Show me the customer how they use it. Show me the website. You know, remember I was even asking? Well, yeah, you’re

Damon Pistulka 52:57
asking, we’re live with we’re doing that with big commerce the other day and, and good stuff. So we’re gonna

Dan Aldridge 53:03
do we’re gonna put that on the we’re gonna put that on the web. I love it. I love it. Because he knows you bet.

Damon Pistulka 53:09
Let people see how the heck it works. Let them feel comfortable, come into my house and figure out how it works with me, you know, and understand because then you take all the apprehension out of buying and you get somebody that’s gonna call up Dan, and the people on Reno and say, Hey, we’re ready to do this.

Dan Aldridge 53:27
I mean, they’re gonna be 80% done by the Yeah, they come to you. And they already checked your profile out. In fact, checking your profile as you’re talking to them. Yeah, cuz they see the ERP doctor. That’s such a joke. I stole that from Jeff Weiner, by the way. I love it. I love it. I love it that Jeff Weiner insights, yeah, as a hashtag called Jeff Weiner insights. And I was like, I’m gonna be the ERP doctor.

Damon Pistulka 53:54
I guess I got that. That’s funny as heck. Well, I tell you, Dad, we’re gonna we’re already over time. But we’re gonna have to have you come back again. I do want to say hello, Sam stopped by

Dan Aldridge 54:05
Sam. Hey, Sam. Great. Hey, we stopped by today

Damon Pistulka 54:09
man. And he mentioned him if you didn’t hear that, Sam, you mentioned you as some as building building that elevate IQ dropping those videos and then we had, Hamza was here today and Danna stopped by and said hello. So Dan, thanks for being here today. I just love the the differences you know when you are building for pharma, you know is out there pounding the ground doing the things that you’re doing? And now you’re you’re you know, with the different the different approaches needed now you’re like you said you’re trying to do the thought leaders doing the thought leadership generating content, getting on these these places to share your thoughts and creating video so so people can learn more about the products and demos. It’s so cool.

Dan Aldridge 54:57
So I thank you for the opportunity, Damon. Yeah. I appreciate it.

Damon Pistulka 55:01
Yo, yeah, man. I’m glad. Glad to have you and we’re gonna have to have you back. We’re gonna. We got so much good stuff that we didn’t even touch man. You gotta have just scratched and scratched a little bit. Well, thanks everyone for being here. Thanks for Sam. The ERP Dr. Rocks good, dude. Well, thanks, everyone for being here date Dan. Just hold out for a second and we’ll talk and finish things up. But thanks, everyone for being here. Once again. Hey, we’ll be back again on Thursday with another awesome guest and talking about business in life. And hopefully it’s interesting to everyone. Have a great evening. Thanks, guys.

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