Software Designed for Wine
Publish Date: October 1, 2000
The only ship that is sure to sink is a partnership; so goes the conventional wisdom. However, Nick Cugura and Peter Ellis of Ezy Systems have been in business together for seven years, putting them among the two per cent of partnerships that survive.
Peter enjoys the development side, the programming and more technical aspects. He also adores the spectacular landscapes in the different countries where many of their clients' wineries are situated.
Nick loves everything about the wine industry, the people and the marketing side of their business. Nick and Peter's winery management software program, Ezy Systems, incorporates products EzyWine, EzyVine, EzyAccount and EzyAuction.
"We believe our continued success is the result of our outstanding and free support service. Our niche market, medium to large grape growers and winemakers, appreciate that they are encouraged to suggest changes and enhancements.
"We have 130 clients who have all contributed to many improvements. Our philosophy of free upgrades is unique in the software industry," Nick added.
Nick explains further: "In 1993 we were approached by some wineries and they basically said we need some kind of software that will allow us to track a bottle of wine through to the cellar door sale.
"The system needed to be able to come back and tell them this bottle is made up of these varieties of wine, from these vintages and the regions it came from.
"Our clients wanted and needed to track how a particular wine was made, what was done to it, how much it sold for, how much profit was made and where the grapes were grown in terms of composition and cost.
"No one had an integrated system until ours. Apart from the accounting modules, there are grape receivals, grower payments, cellar operations, vineyard analysis and packaging scheduling modules as well.
"Our software needs qualified and technical people who know what they are doing and have the resources to undertake comprehensive training if necessary."
Nick and Peter are very proud of their employees.
"We have ten staff; three full time trainers and three programmers. Adrian Lock is another success story. He is our longest employee and is the network and hardware technical person. He came to our office because he knows Peter from baseball. He said, "I want a job in the computer or software industry and I'm willing to work for nothing for a while." We paid him a salary of course and we've never looked back.
"It was at his suggestion that we have a six monthly site visit to each of our clients. He also did our website, www.ezysys.com.au". The website is comprehensive and a great marketing device. Uniquely, Ezy Systems has also published on the site, a list of their clients who can be used as a reference by prospective customers.
Susan Buller of R.L. Buller & Son Vineyards of Rutherglen is one such client and she is very happy to discuss the software package.
Susan explains, "We have been clients since 1996 and were at first skeptical as we had tried many different accounting systems. Calculating our sales back to litres and dollars for the Liquor Licensing Board was a conversion no other software could manage.
"We use EzyAccount with just a few of the other modules like 'Weighbridge' as well. We were keen to try a package that could replace the many unconnected systems we had been using.
"In the early days, we instigated many of the upgrades of Ezy Systems. They are completely client driven and their support desk is second to none."
"Our software is developed for medium to large wineries," Nick explained.
"There are 1300 menu options which means it is not a one-man job. Of approximately 1000 wineries in Australia, only half are big enough to afford and make good use of Ezy Systems. Less than 100 tonne production and a winery would be too small a concern and less than 100 acres they can't afford or utilise it properly.
For Peter the hardest part of being in business is juggling everything. They have to decide which of the customer requested enhancements they will introduce. Of the 400 suggestions in a six month period, they examine and re-program 200 of them.
They are comfortable now with their financial position and are grateful for a reliable cash flow.
Nick adds, "This situation is vastly different from the early days. It probably took five years for the panic to subside and for us to get the feeling that we were viable. We had to be careful but not mean.
"With regular newsletters, web browser support and a hard working support desk, we hope to offer people in the wine industry great value for money, for many years to come."
Nick answered the question of where they see Ezy Systems in five years' time. "We will still be in Bendigo, with our sales expanding from its present base of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Bulgaria.
"Maybe we will look to Europe and, of course, California. There doesn't seem to be anything similar to our product overseas and we have many inquiries come in via the web site.
"But software like ours, in the industry we are in, needs personal selling. We have a standard marketing system that worked well for our current export countries. We just need time and the resources to implement it elsewhere."
Source: Business To Business Magazine