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Mississippi Sportswear's joyride

When Mississippi Sportswear, a uniform manufacturing company, scored a major deal with Adidas, the company decided to upgrade its IT system to an iSeries i5 520 box to support its growing business.

Kosciusko, Miss.-based Mississippi Sportswear, a division of Betlin Inc., manufactures uniforms for some of the...

top high school and collegiate teams across the nation in baseball, basketball and lacrosse, in addition to football and cheerleading. But it started out 15 years ago as a small operation making cheerleading and sports uniforms for local high schools. The cheerleading line was its first and strongest product line, and the company initially developed a Web site to support it.

The site ran, but not particularly well. Queries were taking way too long, and the box was generally overworked. With the team sports uniforms site launch and a computer systems merger with its sister company, Kent Water Sports, on the horizon, the company planned for a migration to a server that could provide better performance.

Then Adidas called. The company had scored a major contract -- the right to manufacturer Adidas custom team uniforms exclusively, a deal that included football uniforms for Notre Dame, Tennessee and two-time defending national champion, Southern California.

In an instant, company executives knew it needed a better portal to the Web for independent dealers to place orders, and its lone iSeries 170 model server wasn't going to be enough to sustain such a move for the long haul. So in December 2004, the company upgraded to an iSeries i5 520 box.

"The 170 was pretty slow. Web development on it wasn't going to be as fast as we wanted, so we decided to upgrade," said Stacy Carter, systems and information manager for Mississippi Sportswear. "We upgraded to the 520 and it's been blazing fast."

Mississippi Sportswear now boasts an integrated supply chain system where dealers can check inventory and prices, place orders, get .pdf copies of their invoices, review order status and track it via UPS.

One of the major benefits the company has already seen since the migration is on its customer service, which has seen a decreased workload now that customers have the ability to check and track orders online.

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"The growth in the business [made it a necessity]. We were making a lot of changes," Carter said. "We needed a heftier system. When you merge with one of your sister companies, you're pretty much doubling usage overnight. Plus we were facing growth in own business with a new product line, and we wanted to be open to dealers who were going to order online."

Despite its recent growth and success, Mississippi Sportswear is still a small company with just one IT support person -- Carter. The single-box migration took just one day and things went smoothly on the technical side, but during the middle of the day two 13-year-old girls who had borrowed one of their 65-year-old grandmother's Jeep for a little joyriding in the company's parking lot -- crashed into the side of the building.

The setback didn't affect the conversion, but it certainly made it a memorable one.

"It didn't slow us down, but I think the IBM guy was scared for his life," Carter joked.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer

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