Progress Powers Customer Service Excellence at alphabroder
You likely don’t realize it, but chances are that T-shirt you picked up at your last trade show or concert came from alphabroder, a premier supplier of imprintable apparel and accessories to screen printers, embroiders, distributors and athletic dealers across the US and Canada.
T-shirts by themselves are usually not considered business critical, but to the screen printer under pressure to make a last minute deadline for a trade show for example, and the marketing crew at the booth awaiting the shipment, that piece of apparel is indeed business critical.
“Our business is similar to that of a gas station,” explained Dmitri Levin, alphabroder Database Administrator. “If you need gas and one station is closed, you just go to the next. If we don’t come through with a shipment when and where the customer is expecting it, our competitors are lined up to grab the business.”
For more than 18 years, alphabroder has relied on its Progress® OpenEdge®-based ERP system from OpenEdge partner FDM4 to keep the business running and provide superior customer service.
Today, as the digital business world continues to evolve, alphabroder looks to OpenEdge to keep pace with customer demands, increasingly more strident than ever before.
“Wherever orders originate—web, mobile or through our call centers, we must have the ability to instantly act,” Levin said. “That means having systems continuously available, no matter how technology or the business environment changes.”
Today, 69 Progress OpenEdge databases—20 production and 49 replication and development databases, including a massive 1.3TB main database—service alphabroder’s 100,000+ customers that place up to 40,000 orders daily. In concert with OpenEdge, alphabroder runs 11 Oracle and 3 SQL Server databases.
alphabroder’s ERP vendor FDM4 is a leading provider of robust industry specific and integrated software for ERP, WMS, E-commerce (B2B/B2C), CRM, PLM and Mobile Applications. FDM4 ERP is a multi-company and multi-warehouse, multi-currency software solution that integrates an entire organization.
“Through the years, alphabroder’s business model, like everyone’s, has gone through seismic change,” said Mike Cutsey, President, FDM4. “We just completed their upgrade to Progress OpenEdge 11.6, the latest version, positioning alphabroder to meet the challenges of digital business.”
With OpenEdge 11.6 now running, Levin is looking forward to a number of enhancements to the organization’s business processes. His first priority is table partitioning.
“As the company’s only DBA, any tools that can help us better organize and improve access to data is huge,” he said. “Given the enormous sizes of our databases, table partitioning will enable us to not only better manage data and improve performance, but simplify access to our SQL and Oracle data warehouses, critical for reporting and analysis.”
Looking further ahead, Levin is considering Progress® OpenEdge® Pro2™ data replication for its ability to securely extract and replicate OpenEdge data in near real-time to SQL and Oracle without impacting the live database.
“We have lag time now in some of our sales and order processing reporting,” Levin said. “We expect Pro2 data replication will greatly enhance the speed and accuracy of those processes, getting business critical data to the people that need it—faster.”
Levin is also looking to continue deploying Progress® OpenEdge® Management to monitor database use in real-time, troubleshooting problems before they occur.
“For more than a decade, we have used OpenEdge Management to monitor CPU, disks, memory and file systems usage,” he said. “The capability to configure alerts and have dashboards to monitor resources safeguards our ability to keep our applications continuously available—and given the amount of data we handle, those capabilities give me one less thing I need to worry about.”
Levin is continually looking ahead of the technology curve, strengthening Alphabroder’s ability to provide expert customer service in the highly-competitive environment it operates in.
“The reliability and simplicity of OpenEdge has enabled us to keep pace with changing technologies and the changing needs of our customers through the years,” Levin said. “And now, with the performance and data management capabilities of Progress OpenEdge 11.6 and the continuous improvement and innovation to our ERP system from FDM4, alphabroder is in an excellent position to maintain and grow its leadership position in the industry.”
Founded in 1919, formerly known as Broder Bros., Co., alphabroder is North America’s largest distributor of trade, private label and retail apparel brands and merchandise to the imprinting, embroidery and promotional product industries. alphabroder offers more than 40 brands including a broad selection of trade brands from Gildan®, Hanes®, Fruit of the Loom®, Jerzees® and Bella + Canvas® to an extensive assortment of retail brands including adidas® Golf, Champion®, Russell Athletic®, alternative® and Dickies®. With the addition of Ash City, alphabroder also offers industry-leading private label brands including North End Sport® Red, North End Sport® Blue, North End®, Extreme®, Core365™, Authentic Pigment, Devon & Jones®, Harriton® and Team 365™. For more information, visit
FDM4 International Inc. has been in the technology industry since 1978, and has since specialized in becoming a leading provider of integrated ERP, WMS, E-commerce (B2B/B2C), CRM, PLM and Mobile Applications. FDM4’s robust, scalable solutions are easy-to-use industry-specific applications for Distributors and Manufacturers in various industries, including Apparel, Fashion, Footwear, Accessories, Consumer Products and Hard Good’s Industries. For more information, visit http://www.fdm4.com/