Markinson Team Members Make their Mark – Meet Darren

Darren Bostock, Senior Analyst

As a Senior Analyst and Software Engineer at Markinson, you could say that I define and create technology-based solutions based on comprehensive collaboration with our clients and our team.

I have an aptitude for and genuinely love technology. I am constantly impressed by the things that can be created using technology and thoroughly enjoy using it to solve problems – both personally and professionally. As technology adapts and evolves so quickly, I decided to become a generalist in the tech space early on in my career. This has meant that as well as staying at the forefront of technology, I’ve had to hone my skills in areas like learning, listening to clients (about their needs, problems and wants) and managing projects. In turn, I have created innovative, tech-based solutions that allow clients to meet their current and future needs. This has enabled me to become a sought-after consultant, specialising in problem-solving, project management and implementation in the tech space.

Working at Markinson has some great benefits that help feed my love of technology. There is a culture of learning, curiosity, innovation and understanding – which means my passion for learning is embraced because I can then offer more insights and improved solutions to clients. I also get to see a project’s impact once it’s completed – helping both clients and Markinson succeed. Because of the culture here at Markinson, I feel comfortable embracing how I think and process information and can view it as my secret ingredient when deconstructing and rebuilding a client’s problem to define and then create their solution.

Throughout my career, I’ve gotten to do some interesting and impactful projects. The one that stands out as the most impactful was when I was a Course Coordinator teaching game design and software development at QANTM. Every year there was a 1-day event where we invited potential students of the course to come in. Previously, it had been a 30-minute programming lesson and then 6 hours of playing Multi-Player Games. It wasn’t indicative of what they’d experience when they were students, and it didn’t get them excited about the course or programming in general. So, I worked with the team to update the event format. It became a brief lesson teaching them how to program a revised robot text-based computer game called CRobots. The teaching team had combined the original game with a game engine which added 3D graphics and a better user interface. Once the teaching finished, they were given time to program their robot, and then the attendees competed against each other. At the end of the day, there was time for Multi-Player gaming, but the students enjoyed the coding experience so much that all the attendees were still tweaking their robots. It was a great way to show them what game developers do & how they do it by learning, playing games and having fun. Not only was setting up the event interesting and fun, so was the event itself. I really enjoyed the whole exercise, and I’m proud of how well it went.

I collect hobbies because I thoroughly enjoy deep-diving and learning everything I can about new things. The best part of collecting hobbies is that I don’t forget what I’ve learned already, so I cycle through them over time and rediscover my love for each hobby. Technology and innovation drive many of my hobbies because I enjoy finding ways to incorporate technology into things that it’s not typically seen in. For example – I love cooking, especially on BBQs that I have collected, using a “low and slow” American BBQ technique. I’ve incorporated technology into one of my BBQs so that I can cook remotely once I’ve set it up, instead of needing to monitor it closely. I also enjoy Astronomy and Astrophotography – I’ve got multiple telescopes, and once I’ve taken the photos, I stitch them together to create an ultra-hi-res photo using programming and photo editing software. Outside of these, I also enjoy writing and playing music, 3D printing, and programming (things like game development, machine learning, and simulations).

If I had a chance to tell my 16-year-old self-something, it would be to embrace the message of acceptance as portrayed in this video as I have learned that the sooner we discover the things that we can be grateful for in life, the sooner that we can build from that and achieve better. To quote Babylon 5, “I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, wouldn’t it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?”. Learning to navigate and enjoy our brief existence as the meteor in the video does enables us to begin the process of building a life well-lived instead of avoiding things in life.

What do I wish people knew about me? I like positive outcomes, so if you’re not sure about something, need more information or have something clarified, or are unhappy about something, I’m more than happy to answer questions, take feedback and work with you to make sure there is a positive outcome.


Markinson Team Members Make their Mark – Meet Michael

Michael Walters, Product Unit Lead – Shopkeeper
As the Product Unit Lead for Shopkeeper, I manage the Shopkeeper team and ensure clients get the most out of the product. Having a broad knowledge of programming languages, software architecture, and technologies means that I can help the team create Shopkeeper documentation and processes. Markinson’s culture is always positive and encourages interaction across all the teams. Book club, trivia, and team days are just some of the ways everyone interacts and gels. We also have an excellent learning environment where upskilling is supported and encouraged. The need for remote working and the introduction of hybrid working models required as we expanded our team, has meant that teams now often contain international members and has brought about a cultural shift within teams. These changes facilitated learning about cultural differences and the importance of employee-led coaching; instead of “Managing” everyone the same way. Team and project coordination has also been an area of renewed learning, driven by the need for alternative solutions that ensure all team members have the same chance to succeed, leading to improved client outcomes. If I had a chance to give my 16-year-old self any advice, it would be to not measure other people by your standards. Instead, measure people by business/project objectives – not how closely they did a particular task to how I would have done it. There’s a reason we hired them, let them be the expert. Leverage what they’re good at. Something most people may not know about me is that I tend to shift from one hobby to another quite quickly – diving quite deep when I do. I could hit the bullseye with a bow and arrow more times than not, at 30 metres in my early twenties (which is harder than it might sound!). I have sewn bridesmaids’ dresses for multiple weddings; I’ve got photography that has been sold online and featured in magazines (and I’m currently into astrophotography). I also paint miniatures and do cross-stitch. I play tabletop games like Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons with friends and family. I also colour my hair a crazy colour every winter. The whole family gets involved – at least, they all share their ideas and opinions. One of my greatest strengths is my personability. I would like people to know that they can talk to me if they’re having a hard time. As a parent of three kids (all with high levels of special needs), I know what it’s like to be having a tough time at home or worried about how stress or mental health might impact other parts of my life. I’ve also had depression and can empathise with how that can affect a person. I share this because I want people to know that these things are far more common than we think they are and that I’m here to talk to. While I love technology, it’s safe to say that social media has skewed our perceptions about what life is actually like. It’s not always pizza and puppies, sometimes we have a bad day. I’d rather people feel like they could speak to me than feel they are alone.


Markinson Team Members Make their Mark – Meet Ben

Ben Welch, Head of Product Development
In my role, I oversee the development team and product strategy to develop innovative but relevant software solutions. What I like most about the work is the people because it is the people that make a business successful. I find working in teams and overcoming problems is the most rewarding part.

My area of expertise is in application development and management. So what this means is having come from a programming background of building ERP systems I know how to get the most from the systems we work with.

I love sports and being active. In particular, I have played three codes of football, I play tennis, cricket and basketball and love running and mountain biking. So during the week, I am inside but by the weekend it is all about getting outside and active.

The downside of having such an active lifestyle is that I have injured almost every joint in my body. This means I have been to a lot of physio’s and through this have learnt a lot about how the body works.

With my love of the outdoors, I decided in 2015 to do the 100km Oxfam charity hike which was held in Brisbane. I did the hike over 2 days with only small breaks and no sleep. The hike was through Mt Glorious, Mt Nebo and Mt Cootha. Lots of hills and winding roads. Getting to the finish line felt really good and I am proud that I completed this.

I have also hiked the Cradle Mountain summit and back from Dove Lake in 5 hours. I had to smash it out as the rest of my family didn’t want to join. It was a very beautiful location and I am glad that I did it. The next adventure that I dare to dream about is Base Camp and also South America’s Patagonia.


Markinson Team Members Make their Mark – Meet TJ

TJ, Network and Systems Administrator
I go by the name TJ because my Africana name is hard for many to pronounce, and TJ has just stuck over the years.

What I like most about the work I do is working on a new task with teams to resolve it and making sure the system is up and running and working to capacity.

Since starting at Markinson in September I have been busy deploying the Microsoft team and moving away from Slack. It is great working with the team and it’s a good feeling when we find a solution and it works.

My area of expertise is as a network architect specialist and an achievement that I am very proud of is, in my consultancy business in South Africa, I was the first person to create the G27 application that ran on voice CODEX. This application enabled wireless calls to be made to anyone in South Africa, and is still used today by VOX Telecommunications and Atlantic Internet Services.

I am a real family man and look forward every evening getting home to spend time with my lovely 7 and 2 year old daughters. We play games every night often in our big yard where we have swings and a trampoline. I also enjoy sitting with them as they build things which helps improve their motor skills. Each night before bed we have bible study and I enjoy watching them fall asleep. On weekends we often go to Wellington Point which we all look forward to.

 

 


What we Value

We believe our values should underpin all that we do and that is why we refresh them regularly. 

Our values were reviewed recently and summarised into 5 key statements that represent what Markinson stands for.

They are:

Stronger Together: By working together we can make the biggest difference with our clients, partners and our team members. We are on a journey together for the long term.

Performance is our Reality: We are each responsible for how we perform and how our software performs. We track our success by the businesses we transform.

Our Word is our Bond: Our commitment is what transform a promise into reality. We do what we say we will do, on time and to a high standard. Our commitment is absolute.

Curiosity is Key: We are curious about everything. We enjoy learning and sharing our knowledge bringing insights and experience to every conversation.

Transformation is Everywhere: We have a drive to lead change based on our continued commitment to transformation. We are always asking “How can we do this better?”

Over the coming weeks and months we will be sharing stories of where and how the Markinson team live these values every day.


An ineffective ERP system could be losing you business

The automotive wholesale industry is facing enormous challenges with the loss of product knowledge as older team members retire leaving new team members struggling to find solutions. This means more than knowing if a part is in stock; it’s about having streamlined wholesale ERP solutions that can manage and monitor every aspect of your business both operational and strategic.

An ERP system that can do this, can give you a competitive advantage that can grow your business, and build your reputation. It also means your teams are more effective, as many tasks can be automated therefore freeing them up to provide better service to your customers.

For the mid-market automotive wholesale industry the right business solution requires consolidation of key business functions; including managing and monitoring sales, service, marketing, finance, stock control, and customer orders all with a single solution. 

A successful automated system should:

  • Simplify the management and distribution of stock across multiple locations;
  • Know when customer demand is changing; 
  • Capture knowledge and help to retain your best people;
  • Have flexibility when sourcing alternate product solutions;
  • Automate regular data updates, such as price changes and stock reordering; 
  • Improve your cashflow by identifying slow moving and obsolete stock; and
  • Address supplier issues and opportunities.

Having this intelligence at your fingertips can place you ahead of your competitors and unlock your future potential.

An automated ERP solution that provides all of this is Markinson’s MomentumProERP.

MomentumProERP is a single ERP platform providing streamlined solutions designed for mid-market automotive wholesalers to consolidate and automate key business functions. The system is adaptable to specific business requirements and is available in a range of flexible delivery options to suit business needs and budget.

MomentumProERP is delivered within five unique key business solutions:

  • Capturing Knowledge
  • Automation
  • Visibility for Decision Making
  • Scalability
  • Customer Experience

Markinson began as a one-man business in 1986, and today is achieving continuous year-on-year growth. Their success lies in its vision to be a key partner to every clients’ transformation, and a focus on being ‘stronger together’.


Markinson celebrates 35 years with Multispares

In 1986 Markinson began as a one-man business with a vision to fill a gap in the market for integrated business software solutions for wholesale distribution businesses.

Growing gradually throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, and more rapidly in recent years, Markinson has achieved continuous year-on-year growth.

Mark Clearwater, Markinson CEO, explains that the vision of its founder Mark Robertson has evolved but not faulted over its 35-year history.

“Mark’s vision was to provide software solutions that transform businesses through vertically-focussed business process software.”

“Implementing the correct systems allows more time for the important decisions and practices which actively contribute to our clients’ business growth,” said Clearwater.

Today Markinson has hundreds of businesses that rely on their business software solutions to succeed, some who were there in the very early days. One such client is Multispares who are one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest commercial vehicle spare parts suppliers.

Geoff Stewart, Managing Director for Multispares recalls that Marksinson was with them in those very early days when both companies were just starting out.

“I feel we have been really lucky that Marksinson has evolved as we evolved,” said Stewart.

“Had Markinson not developed alongside us we would have had to migrate to a different business software platform; but we haven’t had to because we picked the right software solution partners from the beginning.”

The growth that Stewart refers to has been a consequence of the massive changes in technology that have occurred over the past 30 years; and the need that Multispares had for business software that could keep pace with this.

That business software started off as MDES and evolved over the years to become MomentumProERP; Markinson’s streamlined wholesale automotive business solution which has been a key staple of their range for 25 years.

Stewart explains that MomentumPro enabled them to consolidate key business functions which was critical then and remains so today.

“Our founder Harry Forsyth tells the story that in the very early days they had to dial in on a modem to do a sales transaction. it was pretty slow going back then.”

“The fact that MomentumPro evolved quickly to be integrated within every part of the business in a seamless way as the internet evolved meant we had a backend system that kept pace with our growth.”

“The other aspect of MomentumPro that was critical to business continuity was that the system was very stable when it was all very new, and remains so today,” said Stewart.

For Markinson having long term partners who have been on a similar journey is something they are proud of.

“In the early days, and still today, we often worked with Multispares to develop a new aspect of MomentumProERP because we both could see the advantages these changes would make to both of our businesses,” said Mark Clearwater.

Clearwater goes on to explain that having grown and learnt together is only possible when there is complete trust and transparency.

“Over the years there have been challenges from time-to-time however, we have been able to work constructively together to resolve issues quickly, and in such way that has benefited both parties.”

For the team at Markinson, recognising its 35-year anniversary has been tricky due to COVID restrictions.

“We have had a few stops and starts this year but are still planning to recognise this milestone with our most important people – our clients, team members and their families, said Clearwater.”


Burson Auto Parts and Markinson – 25 Year Partnership

In celebrating Burson Auto Parts’ 50th Anniversary, the Australian company pays tribute to the many long term supplier partnerships that have helped it become the nation’s preferred trade supplier of automotive parts, tools, equipment and accessories.

One of the most enduring Burson Auto Parts alliances can be found with the company’s business software solutions provider and innovator, Markinson. Over the past 25 years, this company has accompanied Burson Auto Parts into the digital age through its industry leading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) based integrated business software solutions. 

Markinson’s world class MomentumPro warehousing and inventory management software system first replaced the cumbersome manual processes in April 1996. This was the start of the complete digital transformation of the Burson Auto Parts business and with it came several initial challenges.

“The co-operation that we have always received from the Markinson team over the years has been a stand out factor of our long term alliance with the company,“ recalled Burson Auto Parts National Trade Sales Manager, Mario Baric.

“It wasn’t easy to make this transformation, but we worked together to ensure that our warehousing and inventory control software systems were perfectly integrated across our business from the stores to the sales reps on the road and everything in between,” He added.

The improvements in efficiency across the entire Burson Auto Parts business, particularly in stock ordering, customer service and inventory control across the company’s several warehouses, represented major leaps forward through the constantly developed, improved and customised Mopro (MomentumProERP) system. Updated versions of this system continues to power the back-end of Burson Auto Parts’ trade sales and warehousing operations to service more than 200 stores and nearly 30,000 loyal trade customers to this day.

“The demands of providing the level of customer service that we do for our trade customers are major. Each customer can have anywhere up to fifteen Burson Auto Parts deliveries made within 30 minutes of each order across every single day from more than 200 stores. This requires inventory control software that must be very reliable, easy to use and highly efficient,” Mr Baric stated. 

Markinson’s Application Programming Interface (API) has also provided vital functionality for Burson’s EZYParts online parts ordering system to leverage the intelligence within MomentumPro ERP. The API has also enabled Burson to implement several integrations streamlining a number of key business processes. Working together with Markinson, the MomentumPro API has undergone constant improvement to support these capabilities.

The most recent major endeavour for the Markinson and Burson Auto Parts business involves the warehousing integration software currently being used in the enormous new Bapcor Distribution Centre in Melbourne which is currently in the process of replacing several smaller Burson Auto Parts (and other Bapcor owned companies) warehouses. This has seen a major level of enhanced inventory control software development and integration from Markinson.

According to Tim Vriend, Burson Auto Parts Digital Operations Team Leader, “Markinson’s willingness to make changes to their software systems, tailor making the software to best suit our requirements, has been the most outstanding factor of our long term relationship. 

“Being involved with us from the very start of the digitisation of Burson Auto Parts has given the Markinson team an acute understanding of our business and the highly demanding customer service efficiencies that are required in order to provide the best service to them.

“The ability for us to quickly find parts, especially non-core product parts, is fundamental to our success. As our inventory levels and automotive aftermarket product ranges increase, our systems need to stay ahead and Markinson has worked together with us for 25 years to ensure that this is the case,” Tim stated.

Mark Clearwater, the CEO of Markinson, which is celebrating its 35th Anniversary this year, attributes the long term Burson Auto Parts relationship to an outstanding level of trust and co-operation over the past quarter century.

“The mark of a true partnership is that we have grown and learned together over our long relationship. Over the years we have encountered challenges, however with transparency and trust these have been easily resolved,” Mr Clearwater stated.

“I am really proud that our reputation with the team at Burson Auto Parts is that ‘we always deliver’ We discovered very early that by testing a new product or product extension with our most trusted clients that this would be a win-win for both of us,” He added. These sentiments are echoed by Burson Executive General Manager, Trade, Steve Drummy. “The Burson Auto Parts 50 year history of success would not have been possible without the support of our many long term product and service suppliers. Markinson is one example where the development and integration of ERP based business software has assisted to digitise the company’s operations, setting it up for continued growth and even higher levels of efficiency well into the future.”


6 Things You Can Discover about Your Business from POS Software

Information gathered through your Point of Sale software can deliver valuable business insight.

Here are six things that retailers are sometimes surprised they can discover by using Point of Sale software:

  1. Details of failing stock items. Several reports are available to list items that have not sold in a specified period of time.
  2. Return on Investment reporting to see the genuine value delivered by inventory.
  3. Employee sales performance data.
  4. Trading period comparison by department, category and supplier to see how the business is tracking.
  5. Customer value. See a customer’s spend over a given period of time for deeper insight into their true value and loyalty.
  6. Top sellers reporting. While many retailers know their top sellers, few understand the percentage of sales (dollars and units) delivered by these to the business.

Six Ways to Reduce Expenses in Wholesale Distribution

If your business engages in wholesale distribution, maintaining efficiency while reducing expenses is an important pursuit.

While it’s too late to make big adjustments to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and distribution systems in time for the end-of-year-spike, the lull that can follow as the new year starts is a great time to take a big-picture look at your processes.

At Markinson, we’ve put together several ways to improve wholesale distribution management while reducing your costs:

Inventory is expense

Everything in your warehouse is incurring a cost. Keep inventory as low as possible by implementing systems that allow you to treat your warehouse as a node in the link between your supplier and customer, and not as a home for goods. Also identify slow-moving inventory and price it to reflect its higher warehousing cost.

Manual processes equal added costs

Business-wide electronic and real-time tracking not only reduce costs by improving processes within your business, but also makes your business more attractive for customers (and suppliers). Share your data with customers and suppliers so that they know what you have stocked, what you can source, where products are and how long they’ll take to arrive. Doing so will help to move your inventory – creating revenue while reducing storage costs.

A better crystal ball

Your sales team’s projections aren’t the only to predict future demand. Focus on using the information generated within an enterprise resource planning system such as MomentumPro as a more accurate predictor of future trends.

Consolidate

Eliminating duplicate systems is a quick way to reduce costs. Drive cost reduction by ensuring there’s a single point of responsibility in your business for keeping a handle on excess inventory. Don’t forget the basics, such as getting rid of aging inventory.

Prioritise cost reduction

Make reducing costs a priority by creating KPIs around expense reduction. If you don’t have one already, create a dashboard view of your expenses, report on them, and ensure that the business is aware of where its costs lie. It may not always be as glamorous as sales, but reducing costs plays just as valuable a role in improving profit.

Embrace E-Commerce

Drive down your cost of processing sales and extend the hours you can trade and regions you can target. Provide a self-service portal for customers to free up your customer service resources.

Contact us to find out how we can provide solutions for your wholesale distribution challenges.