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Alexander Lumber Company

Company Facts


  • Location: Aurora, Wisconsin
  • Industry: LBM Dealer
  • Sales Profile: 80-90% Contractors / 10-20% Retail
  • Number of Locations: 25
  • Web site: www.alexlbr.com

"BisTrack is the best product on the market. Our business information is far more accurate, and certainly more timely. Quite frankly, we run the business better now."

Ed Winkless, CFO | Alexander Lumber Company


Alexander Lumber operates two truss plants, a countertop division, and 25 lumberyards in Illinois and Wisconsin under the names Alexander Lumber, Brittingham & Hixson, and Stan's Lumber. They were on multiple software systems due to their expansion through acquisition. "The owners said they wanted us to find the best software to carry them forward into the future," recalls Ed Winkless, Alexander Lumber's CFO. "We researched many software companies before choosing BisTrack. It's the best product on the market."

"Our gross margin has bumped up by 2 points because of the real-time data we get from BisTrack." Winkless explains, "We're better informed about special order costs and inventory at all locations, and putting sales and margin information in front of the sale people makes them more competitive." Winkless continues: "We added consistency by having BisTrack. Our business information is far more accurate, and is certainly more timely. Quite frankly, we run the business better now."

Sales dashboard drives margins up

Winkless describes how the company developed BisTrack Dashboards to display metrics and task lists specific to each user group their roles. "For example, the Dashboard used by our 50 outside sales people displays their customers' accounts receivable, as well as sales and margin data for each product group," Winkless explains. "Their compensation is tied to margin targets, so it really drives them to improve what they're selling, with higher margin add-ons."

Real-time data helps control expenses

"Expense control is just as important as margin control. You can have a drop in sales and still come out fine," adds Winkless, who cited numerous examples of efficiency improvements and cost reduction due to BisTrack, including trimming head office accounting staff from nine to just three people. "With BisTrack, we have real-time data for people to take action immediately. And our financials reporting P&L at each location are out five days earlier than they used to be, so that we can compare actuals to budgets." Winkless continues: "Many of the processes done by the bookkeepers at our locations are now being done electronically, so they can spend more productive time on the counters. In a fiveperson location, that's very important."

Inventory visibility at all locations

"With our previous systems, we had different inventory and customer databases at each of our 26 locations," recalls Winkless. "Our buying group is more competent now, because they can clearly see quantities on hand at all locations, what's selling in a location and what's not. It's easy for them to do their program buys."

"Also, prior to BisTrack, pricing was different in each location and it was up to individual branch managers to make price changes. So if a manager didn't see a change to product cost, he might sell it for less than he could have," Winkless explains. "There was a significant time savings by centralizing the process. And now, our buying group keeps an eye on all the pricing."

Accurate special order costing

Winkless also appreciates how BisTrack handles special orders. "Like many companies, we kept special orders in buckets. We had a code for special order lumber products, another for all special order cabinetry. It was very difficult to tell why your inventory was off at year end-just this mystery that you were off $5000 in special order cabinet hardware," Winkless recalls.

"Now we track every special order with a unique code. Special orders are just like a hammer. They all have a history now," says Winkless. "The accuracy is incredible, tracking everything that happens in special orders, highlighting what we are making on different types of special orders. It's been a great feature for us."

Manufacturing integration improvements

Alexander Lumber has two truss plants and a countertop division, and they use the work order process in BisTrack to keep track of costs and labor. "In BisTrack, labor is a very clear figure in our calculation that we can markup, which we aren't able to do in our design software," says Winkless. "And we can tell what portion of the gross profit dollars is tied to labor versus the product itself."

"Further, the design software integrates with BisTrack, which cuts down on the double key entry we used to have to do," Winkless reports. "We have redeployed the person who used to do that."

About Epicor

Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industries. With more than 40 years of experience, Epicor has more than 20,000 customers in over 150 countries. Epicor solutions enable companies to drive increased efficiency and improve profitability. With a history of innovation, industry expertise and passion for excellence, Epicor inspires customers to build lasting competitive advantage. Epicor provides the single point of accountability that local, regional, and global businesses demand. For more information, visit www.epicor.com

Success Highlights:


  • Epicor ® BisTrack™


  • 2% gross margin increase
  • 67% reduction in head office accounting staff
  • Other clerical and bookkeeping staff fully or partially redeployed
  • More effective centralized buying
  • Better pricing management
  • Improved manufacturing and special order costing
  • Standardized processes