September 25, 2011

The Bottom Line: Making governments click with MUNIS

Tyler Technologies provides software to help municipalities nationwide manage their functions.

By J. Hemmerdinger
Staff Writer

YARMOUTH - The name MUNIS has little meaning to the general public.

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Ruth Porter, left, the town of Scarborough’s finance director, works with Kim Massa, purchasing administrative assistant, at Scarborough Town Hall, as they access Tyler Technologies’ MUNIS financial programs.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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John Marr Jr., president and CEO of Tyler Technologies, sitting in his new office in Yarmouth, said, “Fifteen to 20 years ago this was a place (employees) went to get experience. Now we have people who come here from top employers.”

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HEADQUARTERS: Dallas, Texas. The company’s top officers work in Yarmouth and Falmouth.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 2,000, including 450 in Maine.

EXECUTIVES: President and CEO John Marr Jr. was raised in Maine and attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied accounting and computer science. He joined his father’s Falmouth-based company, then called MUNIS, in the early 1980s. Marr became chief operating officer when Tyler Technologies acquired MUNIS in the late 1990s.  He was named Tyler’s president and CEO in 2003.

FINANCIALS: Revenue of $288.6 million in 2010, down from $290.3 million in 2009.

But staff in local government offices nationwide know it well: MUNIS is the municipal information system they use to manage everything from taxes to accounting, payroll to parking tickets.

It's also a leading product of Tyler Technologies, a firm based in Dallas but managed by executives in Yarmouth and Falmouth.

In the last 10 years, Tyler Technologies had added some 400 staff in Maine, making it one of the state's largest technology employers.

"We are based in Dallas, but this is the biggest division," said President and CEO John Marr Jr., from his Yarmouth office. "Fifteen to 20 years ago this was a place (employees) went to get experience. Now we have people who come here from top employers."

Tyler Technologies' products are used by a range of municipal agencies, including city governments, school systems, police departments and courts. The products manage budgets, taxes, property assessments, procurements, payrolls and human resource functions.

"Anything that a city, town or government needs to operate, we have a module for it," said Senior Data Center Engineer Tom Lowrie.

The company has some 8,000 clients nationwide, including such medium-size cities as Buffalo, N.Y., and smaller municipalities such as Falmouth, South Portland and Scarborough.

Falmouth Assistant Town Manager Amy Lamontagne said the town has used MUNIS since 1992. The system handles accounts payable, invoices, accounting, budgeting and human resources.

Tyler Technologies, an offshoot of a Texas holding company, was launched in the late 1990s. The company's strategy was to consolidate the government software industry by purchasing regional software companies.

In 1999, Tyler Technologies acquired Falmouth-based MUNIS, which began life in 1962 as Process Inc.

Started by Marr's father, John Marr Sr., the firm processed data for small companies and governments using a computer leased from Maine Bank and Trust.

Process Inc. became The Computer Center, and was renamed MUNIS in the 1980s.

By the time MUNIS was sold, the company had 50 to 60 staff people and revenue of about $15 million.

Marr stayed on board and was named Tyler Technologies' CEO in 2004. He said the acquisition gave MUNIS access to credit and a nationwide sales force that helped the company grow.

Tyler Technologies now has 450 staff in Maine, most at offices in Falmouth and in the former Cole Haan building in Yarmouth.

Since the MUNIS acquisition, Tyler Technologies' stock price has increased from $4.50 to about $24.

The company has some 2,000 employees nationwide, in such places as Plano and Lubbock, Texas, Dayton, Ohio, Seattle, Wash., and Albany, N.Y.

The town of Falmouth's director of long-range planning, Theo Holtwijk, said Tyler Technologies is the type of high-tech firm the municipality hopes to attract.

"(Tyler) helps us be a more diversified community," he said. "It provides a place for people who live in Falmouth to work at a pretty advanced place."

Tyler Technologies competes in an industry dominated by such major companies as Oracle, SAP and Deloitte.

Marr said those companies' products aren't designed specifically for government use.

The one exception is a management system sold by Microsoft Corp. called Dynamics AX for public sector organizations.

Microsoft built the system, which was released earlier this year, in partnership with Tyler Technologies.

Tyler reported revenue of $288.6 million in 2010, down from $290.3 million in 2009. Marr predicts revenue will increase in 2011.

Marr said revenue from existing customers continues to grow, but sales to new clients have declined in recent years.

He said many local governments are strapped for cash and, having recently laid off staff, are avoiding purchasing new software systems.

Marr said sales to new customers will improve as governments realized these systems can make them more productive with fewer staff.

"They are hurting, but they have to deliver the same services," said Marr of local governments. "At some point they will realize they need to be more efficient."

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:


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Additional Photos

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Tyler Technologies has moved its Maine headquarters to this building in Yarmouth, the former Cole Haan headquarters.


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