Milwaukee-based CCI, an SAP software consulting firm, recently opened a Latin American office in Mexico City. The firm’s other offices are in Atlanta and Dallas.
Founded in 2002 in the attic of Chris and Jen Carter’s home in Hales Corners, CCI has quickly gained a global presence.
“We are in markets I never expected to be in my wildest dreams,” said Chris Carter, who is chairman and chief executive officer of the firm. “I don’t pinch myself, because if it’s a dream I don’t want to wake up.”
The company has about 50 employees worldwide and several hundred independent contractors who do work for CCI worldwide. Carter has traveled to Argentina, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Italy to work with clients.
CCI, headquartered at 2156 S. Fourth St. in Milwaukee, provides software consulting services for companies running Walldorf, Germany-based SAP’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. SAP is the leading provider of ERP software, which is used to integrate back-office functions such as distribution, accounting, human resources and manufacturing.
“We can do a couple of things for the client,” Chris said. “We can implement their SAP systems and work with a company to purchase the necessary SAP licenses. We can also train their people on SAP uses, host their SAP systems for them, maintain their systems and work with them through upgrades.”
The SAP software, according to Chris, has the ability to take all the departments in one company, and put it into one clean entity. The entire company can function out of one database, he said.
“What that does is allow your human resources, your finance, your maintenance departments, even your third-party vendors to utilize one central database to see the same data in real time,” he said. “This way, everybody can see everything that can be utilized by that organization.”
CCI’s most recent new market is the SAP oil and gas industry. The company’s office in Dallas was opened last year after an acquisition of Spindeltek, an SAP senior management consulting firm based out of San Antonio, which specializes specifically in companies that are a part of the SAP Oil and Gas industry.
“The opportunities with the oil and gas industry are just huge opportunities for new growth,” said Jen Carter, president of CCI. “The long-term value of entering into that market is what I think has taken us to the next level.”
One of the biggest factors for CCI’s success, according to Jen, was becoming a certified partner of SAP.
“It is a long, two-year, intense approval process, and you have to meet certain standards as a company,” Chris said.
The standards include criteria such as the number of staff, the number of certified consultants and revenue numbers, as well as customer service ratings, Chris said.
SAP is the world’s largest ERP software application provider, and SAP America has about 15,000 corporate clients in and around the United States, including Rubbermaid, Delta and T-Mobile.
CCI currently works with more then 500 of those clients.
In 2007, CCI invested in the production of a 2,200-square-foot data center at its Milwaukee facility. The data center provides a secure storage and disaster recovery system for both internal and external SAP systems, a central place to utilize third-party application development to SAP and a virtual training center for clients.
“We started off with just our SAP systems in there, but now we have a virtual training system set up where clients can log into the systems remotely to do testing and configurations on their own,” Chris said.
CCI is growing as it meets the demands of its clients, Chris said.
“We actually cannot get enough people to fill the needs that we currently have,” Chris said.
Despite his original intentions of creating a company that utilized U.S.-based labor to do business, CCI has started exploring the idea of off-shoring some of its workload.
“We are being really, really careful about vetting out those individuals who are qualified and can fit the needs of the organization and what we need to do on a project,” Chris said.
Clients of CCI in China also have asked the company to set up an office in their buildings.
CCI plans to utilize the progress in the SAP industry on the West Coast by looking for office space near San Mateo, Calif.
“We are looking to add an account executive on the West Coast,” Chris said. “There is just so much going on out there that it really needs to get utilized.”
Genesis of CCI
Jen Carter was five months pregnant with their second child and working part time in 2002, when her husband Chris decided to quit his job at Milwaukee-based Symmetry Corp. and start his own company.
“It was definitely a moment of panic,” Jen recalled. “I am definitely a more conservative person and not a big risk taker, so it was definitely a big panic period for me.”
Chris began remodeling the fourth-story attic of their home in Hales Corners. Once finished, they set up their first network and SAP server. After the birth of their baby, Jen went back to work to create some stability and obtain benefits, while CCI took off as a company.