Software Developer Keeps
By STEPHANIE GAUTHREAUX
October 5-11, 1992 - Freight forwarding company executive Erwin Melzer took notice when the Texas firm he was working for spent over $200,000 on a basic accounting system back in 1980. Such an investment to automate operations was prohibitive at the time for all but five percent of the nation's freight forwarders: the process required a minimum of $100,000 for equipment and thousands in monthly in maintenance costs.
Believing there was a better way, Melzer began work in 1984 on a more cost effective method of automating freight forwarding operations. In 1986 he launched his company, Melco Group International, to market his new system to the largely untapped market of small - and mid-size freight forwarding companies.
Capitalizing on the shift from expensive mainframes to powerful PCs, Melzer developed a turnkey solution that offers Novell Local Area Network compatible software, maintenance and service for less than $20,000 up front and approximately $200 per month in maintenance costs. The shift to PCs made automation affordable for small- and mid-size companies who'd been in a "paper and labor-intensive situation," using typewriters and heavy reference books to fulfill cumbersome government document requirements.
Melzer sold clients on the promise that within 90 days of installation, his system could provide a 300
to 500 percent increase in productivity and pay for itself in four months. The pitch worked. Melco now
boasts 75 clients in 15 U.S. port cities, six employees in New Orleans and distributorships in New York; Long Beach and Los Angeles, Calif.; Miami; and Eden Park, Minn.
Revenues are growing accordingly - after posting 1991 sales of $800.000, Melco is on pace for 1992 revenues in the $1.4 million range. Melco's cornerstone product, O.A.S.I.S. (Ocean Air Shipping Information System), is an export document system designed for the efficient entry of transport data and the production of export documents. Unlike many other systems on the market, O.A.S.I.S. features input screens that resemble the documents with which its user is familiar.
Selling was not without its challenges in the companies early days, says Sales Manager Dean Bramson. "When you've got a product like software, there's a certain difficulty in perceiving what a software package is going to do." Fortunately, early customers helped Bramson out.
"Our clients are our biggest marketing machine," says Melzer. "It's a word of mouth thing. We're doing it one client at a time."
With no competition in New Orleans and only about 10 competitors nationwide, Melco serves half of the top 10 freight forwarding companies in New Orleans -- including (Gilscot Forwarding Co. Inc., Gulf States Forwarding Inc., McCandless Inc., and J.W. Allen & Co. Inc.)
Melco Group is also tapping new market opportunities: in 1989 the company was authorized by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Census to do electronic filing. According to Bramson, Melco is one of six software development companies in the country authorized to offer this electronic means of data transfer for export control. Electronic filing cuts down tremendously on freight forwarding companies' paperwork and helps eliminate government waste. But there are many companies who do not yet employ electronic filing.
Of the 12 million export declarations filed each year, only ten percent are tiled electronically, Melzer says. " We have 90 percent to go."
SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
EXTENDS NATIONAL REACH
November 23, 1992 - In five short years, Melco Group International has achieved success and recognition as pioneers in the effort to bring personal computer technology to the traditionally time and labor intensive manual procedures that up until now have prevented export freight forwarding companies from maximizing their efficiency and productivity.
Melco Group International's cornerstone OASIS - 'Ocean Air Shipping Information System' with optional integrated modules for warehousing; air and ocean consolidation; electronic shipper export declaration transmission; schedule B. number date file; inbound deconsolidation; purchasing; client remote communications and accounting offers the most standard features and ease of use of any transportation system available anywhere.
MGI's marketing strategy of establishing a strong regional presence has been rewarded by published recognition that OASIS is the pre-eminent software program installed in one-quarter of the top 25 South Florida freight forwarders; one-half of the top ten freight forwarders in New Orleans; and three-quarters of the top ten in Mobile, Alabama. These businesses recognized a great program provided by a company committed to one product line and the continual co-development of that product with existing clients.
Additionally, recent expansion shows significant inroads OASIS has achieved in the Texas, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Maryland and California markets.
Melco Group International has established a new freight forwarding industry standard for software
product performance, service and support.
MELCO introduces new shipment tracking service
Melco Group International Inc., a provider of software for the forwarding industry, said it has implemented a new service called OasisEtrack, allowing real-time shipment access by OASIS clients.
OASIS, which stands for Ocean Air Shipping Information System, has been used since 1988 by forwarders, ocean freight consolidators and exporting departments of large exporters.
OasisEtrack, which includes secure encryption, has been under development for 18 months.
"This represents a quantum leap over other systems which require cutting and pasting and then uploading to a remote centralized server of data for access at a future time," said Erwin Melzer, Melco's president and chief executive.
The company's client include over 1,000 active users in currently 24 Cities and five countries globally.
Software Firm Expands Houston Efforts
Melco Group International is expanding efforts to market its freight forwarding software in the Houston area, according to Dean Bramson, sales manager for the Louisiana based firm.
"Several successful Houston forwarding firms already are using our software to make their operations more efficient," said Bramson.
Melco's cornerstone product is OASIS (Ocean Air Shipping Information System), which features optional integrated modules for accounting, warehousing, air and ocean consolidation and electronic shipper export declaration transmissions. Modules are also available for schedule B. number date file, inbound deconsolidation, client remote communications and accounting. Modules for import documentation and ABI electronic customs clearance are under development.
OASIS is designed to run on a personal computer and is compatible with a Novell Local Area Network. It was created for small and mid-size freight forwarding companies that could not afford to spend $100,00.00 or more for a mainframe based computer system.
Melco has been in business for five years and is currently marketing its software in 11 states. The company's clients are presently located in 15 U.S. port cities.
"Maintaining the industry standard for excellence is a responsibility we take very seriously," Bramson noted. "Our network of distributors provide sales and technical support assistance. Our technical support capability encompasses the understanding that client system maintenance is the highest priority."
Melco Group bringing technology to new territories
NEW ORLEANS - In five years Melco Group International has successfully brought personal computer technology to the traditionally time and labor intensive manual procedures that up until now have prevented export freight forwarding companies from maximizing their efficiency and productivity.
Melco Group lnternational's cornerstone, OASIS 'Ocean Air Shipping Information System' with optional integrated modules for warehousing, Air and Ocean Consolidation; Electronic Shipper Export Declaration Transmission; Schedule B. Number Data File; Inbound Deconsolidation; Purchasing; Client Remote Communications and Accounting offers the most standard features and ease of use of any transportation system available anywhere and at a cost that has often provided typical small to medium freight forwarders their first affordable opportunity to consider automation.