The big comeback: The SCE company that never went away

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Catalyst International is a supply chain execution (SCE) software and solutions vendor that offers companies ways to optimize the performance of their enterprise supply chains. The company is headquartered in Milwaukee, USA, and has representation in the UK, Italy, Mexico and South America. With 25 years of industry leadership in warehouse and logistics software development and an in-depth understanding of ERP systems it has interesting and varied customers, including Boeing, Brown Forman, Office Max, Panasonic, Rayovac, Reebok, Subaru, The Home Depot, Homebase and Dixons.

Regardless of its impressive offeringsanalyst firm Gartner classifies Catalyst as a visionary leader in the SCE marketthe company has been quiet for some time, keeping its head down serving its existing customers and selling more solutions to them, and gaining new clients. Now its back on the SCE radar and it aims to take its competitors head on, with no holds barred. We discuss whats happening with Steve Barker, VP sales and marketing for Europe.

Barker has been with the company for about five months and has a mandate to change the perception of Catalyst on this side of the Atlantic. This isnt an insignificant task and he recognises that there is much to do and talk about. However, he brings a deep understanding of ERP to Catalystan integration area that is growing in importance for SCE vendorsthat complements the companys warehouse management expertise.

He says: Its time to start crowing about what is happening at Catalystwith existing and new customers to be announced soon. The company has a rich heritage of WMS customers going back more than 20 years and it has been able to build on this to include a wider offering of RFID (radio frequency identification [in which it has amassed expertise in the US that it can transfer readily worldwide]), wireless computing, labour management systems, etc., that enable it to provide full SCE solutions for fast moving, complex warehouse operations.

Our prime focus is complex retail, says Barker. Here Catalyst can offer its experience of enabling goods to flow from manufacturer, to distributor and to the outlets by drawing on lessons learned with the likes of Homebase and Dixons.

Barker says that the market remains wide open with opportunities for SCE vendors, with almost an even split between packaged systems such as SAP and best-of-breed solutions so he is extremely positive about the companys prospects. By offering complementary solutions, Catalyst presents an even stronger business case and Barker says: Had Catalyst remained a WMS company it could have vanished or been bought out. Such is the onslaught of market consolidation. Instead, today we see a formidable contestant in the SCE market.

With its new ownersventure capitalists, ComVest Investment Partnersthe company now has the financial clout to take it forward and is setting itself up to attain its $150 million turnover target, with 25 per cent of its growth organic and the remainder through acquisitions. The knowledge of this in the SCE market will be ruffling a few feathers to say the least.

Coupled with this are the companys ambitious plans for its SAP practice where it aims for 25 to 30 per cent growth by the end of this year, with 35 to 50 per cent growth by end of 2006. This is an exciting venture for the company, according to Barker, with Catalyst providing specialist operational knowledge and advice that SAP cannot offer.

Following the conversation with Barker, I am left in no doubt that, if everything goes to plan, this is just the beginning of Catalysts new future under his direction.

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