M2M Hires Chuck Stewart, Vontoo Call Tech for Grizzlies (But No Politicians, Please)

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M2M Hires Chuck Stewart, Vontoo Call Tech for Grizzlies (But No Politicians, Please)

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a nice k.d. lang CD my Canadian sister-in-law sent, Hymns of the 49th Parallel.

M2M Holdings Inc., a vendor of enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management products, has announced that Chuck Stewart, former founder and general manager of Encompix, a business unit of M2M Holdings and provider of ERP for project-based, engineer-to-order manufacturers, has assumed the position of vice president of Industry Solutions.

In his new role, Stewart will report directly to CEO Jeff Tognoni and be responsible for the strategic growth and development of each of the microvertical ERP packages that have been acquired by M2M Holdings over the past three years, including DTR Software (plastics), Cimnet Systems (printed circuit boards), AXIS Computer Systems (metals, wire and cable), Encompix (project-based ETO), and Relevant Business Systems (aerospace and defense).

Eric Binning, former director of pre-sales and product manager for Encompix, will replace Stewart as general manager of Encompix.

The Industry Solutions division of M2M Holdings "represents a core element of our company strategy, which is to provide industry-specific but flexible ERP and CRM solutions that fit companies of every size across a number of niche industries," said Tognoni.

Stewart said he expects to see ongoing growth within the Industry Solutions division of M2M Holdings, observing that "industry-specific functionality is increasingly becoming a primary software selection criterion. Buyers are starting to realize that their total cost of ownership significantly decreases when a solution fits their business processes right out of the box."

Stewart founded ShopPro Software in 1991 to develop an integrated solution for job-based manufacturing companies. When ShopPro merged with Paradigm Integrators in 1996, and eventually became Encompix, Stewart became part owner, founder, and executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Here's a pretty cool idea: The Memphis Grizzlies pro basketball team, looking to boost home game attendance within days of a game, used a product from Vontoo to deliver permission-based voice messages featuring Grizzlies players encouraging fans to attend home games.

Just please, Lord, don't let politicians get a hold of this:

"Hi there, this is Hillary Clinton, and I neeeeed you -- " click. "Who was it, honey? Honey? Your dinner's getting cold." "I… I don't really have an appetite anymore, I think I'll go take a shower."

Playing in the $250 million FedExForum brings challenges to the team’s marketing group, according to Dennis O’Connor, Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service for the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as added pressure to, well, put rears in seats. "With over 18,000 seats to sell for each game, we need to be creative to entice fans to fill up the arena."

"This is Bill Frist, and I… oh, forget it. Bye."

The team won't exactly contend for the title this year, but they do have to keep the turnstiles humming for 45+ home games during the 2006-2007 season. And it's not L.A., where Laker games are always packed out given the dearth of any other entertainment or cultural options in the city, this is Memphis, folks. There's a lot of competition for that disposable dollar.

"Hi, this is Tom Vilsack, and I need your help on election day. If this is a number outside of Iowa or New Hampshire please disregard this message since my presidential campaign will be six feet under after those two primaries."

One recent promotion focused on the Grizzlies rookie forward Rudy Gay. The team was offering free Rudy Gay jerseys for the first 3,000 fans who came through the admissions gate, and a special "two for $22" ticket plan for the general public. Since the team decided on the ticket promotion just 10 days before the game, the marketing group had to get the word out.

"Hello, Barack Hussein Obama here, although I don't usually use my middle name while campaigning, and my eighteen months in the Senate, the sum total of my political experience, have fully qualified me to run for the office of President of the -- " click.

O’Connor used Vontoo to have Gay record an audio message inviting fans to the game. The message was delivered to a database of 6,000 fans who had purchased single-game tickets over the past year, thereby "opting in" to telemarketing pitches, evidently.

"John McCain here, press one for my maverick liberal Republican pitch, two for my true conservative views, three for my tough-on-Iraq spiel, four for my withdraw-from-Iraq message, five for the fill-in-the-blanks karaoke home version, six for -- " click.

Recording the message was easy. Gay used a Web browser to log into the Vontoo system and record his message. The marketing group imported its fan list and scheduled delivery through the same browser. Results could be tracked immediately.

"Hi, this is John Kerry, and I need your help on election day as we chase the glorious vision of a new direction for America, specifically copying France. Let's bring home all those uneducated morons fighting for our country over in Iraq and let them fill the menial labor jobs here in America, I'll personally hire a couple to clean my swimming pool and wash my SUV, uh, it's not really mine, it's my wife's, but if I ask pretty pretty please Teresa dear she lets me pick up the servants from the bus stop -- " click.

The team sold 1,500 tickets, resulting in $33,000 in sales with that one call. The cost was just $650. No word on whether Gay was compensated for his contribution.

"Good day friends, I'm Senator Sam Brownback from Kansas, and I need your help to become President of the United States. I need a lot of help, frankly, I need you to hit your knees and pray to St. Jude. I need every man, woman and child in -- " click.

"Using the player’s voice was the key," said O’Connor. "The message boards lit up with fans telling us how much they loved getting a phone call from Rudy. It was a real boost to the fans."

"Hi, this is John Edwards, and I’m running for president. No, really. Hey stop laughing, I can hear you laughing, and this son of a dirty-shirt millworker really doesn't appreciate you laughing at a vision of an America where sleazy blow-dried plaintiff's attorneys like me can get filthy rich suing everything that -- " click.

There was even a bonus; some fans were so thrilled to get a call from an NBA player that they forwarded the Rudy Gay message to their friends.

"Friends, this is Mitt Romney, and when's the last time Massachusetts has had a president? You know, I can't remember either, probably somebody like John Adams, but hey, how about a Republican from Massachusetts? Neh-vuh! That's why I'm running for  -- " click.

In the future, the Grizzlies will use Vontoo’s instant connect feature which allows fans receiving the calls to press a number on their phone keypad and be connected immediately to a ticket agent.

"My fellow Americans, this is Al Sharp -- " click.

Vontoo is accessible over an Internet browser, anytime or anywhere, and can send from one to millions of audio messages to any type of phone. The company is privately owned and headquartered in Indianapolis.

"This is Rudy Giuliani. It's time for America to decide if we're going to fight or surrender. That's why Condoleezza Rice and I are running to -- " "Honey, get the checkbook."

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