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Enterprise firm turns new leaf

Symix is expanding its reach with a product suite for manufacturers of consumer products and consumer electronics.

Symix Systems, a maker of enterprise resource planning systems for middle-market manufacturers, is expanding its reach.

The Columbus, Ohio, company announced today that it is developing a new product suite for manufacturers of consumer products and consumer electronics.

Symix specializes in business automation systems for distinct industrial-sector manufacturers. Its flagship SyteLine product is for makers of industrial products such as industrial equipment, fabricated metals, furniture and fixtures, industrial electronics, and containers and packaging,

"Symix has primarily been focused on engineer-to- and make-to-order businesses," said Jim Shepherd, analyst at AMR Research in Boston. "Mass customization and repetitive manufacturing are markets they haven't been good at."

But now Symix executives are ready to tackle the market with their new product, to be available in August 1999. Shepherd said the company is well-run and focused, two pluses as it goes after a new branch of the manufacturing world.

While the flagship product is available on Unix and Microsoft's Windows NT platform, the new product is being designed entirely on a Microsoft platform with Windows NT as the operating system and SQL Server as the database. Windows NT is becoming the de facto operating system for the middle market because PC platforms are relatively low cost compared to other server systems.

Symix has been quietly outfitting manufacturing companies with business process automation system for 20 years. But not just smaller companies are buying the products. Shepherd estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of the company's customers are divisions or facilities of large corporations.