“From inventory to customer service, just about everything has improved as a result of the Eclipse solution. We now have access to better, more informed decisions across the company; we rely less on printed reports; and we have better access to the information from virtually anywhere within the company.”
Ed Novshad, Chief Financial Officer and Founding Partner | Five Star Plumbing & Fire Supplies
Five Star Plumbing & Fire Supplies, Inc. provides plumbing and fire protection supplies to contractors from its home base in the greater Los Angeles area.
Missed opportunities and inefficiencies
For the last three years, Five Star Plumbing & Fire Supplies, Inc. relied on software incapable of supporting the challenges distributors face today—from the separation of jobs and bill-to addresses to pricing matrices to develop more strategic pricing strategies—the company was in a tough situation in a tough business.
“I used the Eclipse solution for seven years in my previous role prior to founding Five Star,” recalled Ed Novshad, chief financial officer and founding partner, Five Star Plumbing & Fire Supplies, Inc. “I knew there was a better way, but we weren’t able to make the investment when we bootstrapped the business day one.”
The legacy software we purchased when we started the business had several limitations that hindered the company’s ability to grow, particularly in the purchasing and expediting processes,” Novshad said. The purchasing process, for instance, did not automatically calculate minimums/maximums, safety stock, or lead time, which meant that process was based solely on reports. This added significant time to a task Novshad knew could be automated and more intelligent with innovative software like the Eclipse platform.
Another process relying heavily on manual work was expediting—team efficiency was impacted and productivity was not where it could be. “Being this was a manual process there were vendor-missed shipments and backorders that affected customer’s time-sensitive orders,” Novshad recalled. “These events were dealt with reactively—because knowing about those early and communicating with the customers proactively was labor intensive with the legacy software.”
Inventory functionality within the prior system also failed to provide a way to know turns on items. Poor visibility on matters such as dead stock also became an issue as it hindered the company’s ability to make more informed decisions on a timely basis.
“It was not an easy decision [to switch to the Eclipse software] given all the opportunities and needs which needed to be funded, but the overwhelming loss in productivity, time to decision, customer service impact, and loss in visibility into inventory made this decision a high priority.”
Less than four months after making the decision, Five Star Supply was live on the Epicor Eclipse platform thanks to a well-planned implementation and great teamwork between Five Star and the Epicor implementation team. Now, the company is reaping the benefits just as Novshad envisioned when he first started the business.
Purchasing management, for instance, has improved tremendously as the Eclipse system gives Five Star Supply easy access to inventory turns, and helps the company manage dead stock and improve efficiencies in the warehouse. Another key area of improvement is pricing. Inventory insight at the time of order allows for customer-specific pricing, which is automated based on criteria Novshad and team have developed, such as an automated proactive way to manage customer orders impacted by supply chain “hiccups” outside of Five Star’s control.
“Within the first week of use, our Eclipse platform already gave us a profit and showed things we never knew about our business,” Novshad concluded. “Through the Eclipse system, I can complete a task in half an hour where it previously took upwards of six hours.”
“From inventory to customer service, just about everything has improved as a result of the Eclipse solution. We now have access to better, more informed decisions across the company; we don’t have to rely on printed reports which represent “after the fact” data—everything is in real-time; and we have better access to the information from virtually anywhere within the company,” Novshad concluded.