- Location: Apex, North Carolina
- Industry: Petroleum Distribution
- Number of Stores: 4
- Web site: www.petroliance.com
"Having an organization that understands our business and is willing to help us advance the state of the industry makes a huge difference."
Bob Crouch, Chief Financial Officer | PetroLiance LLC
Four companies specializing in different areas of petroleum product distribution in four different regions of the country became one in the summer of 2006, with the goal of becoming a major force in commercial fuels and lubricants in the eastern United States by focusing on the customer rather than the product. But the first question the newly formed PetroLiance LLC had to answer was, "How do we create a unified business out of four companies operating four different resource management systems?"
The answer: get everyone on the same page, technologically speaking. "That meant selecting one system that could handle multiple complex challenges," said PetroLiance LLC Chief Financial Officer Bob Crouch.
Wanted: One Partner For Thousands Of Challenges
"We wanted a system that was robust enough to handle multiple locations, multiple regions, and over 100 users at a time," he said. "It had to be easy to upgrade and easy to integrate with other systems. That meant it would probably be an SQL-type format that would allow us to integrate with outside applications.
"It also had to be a solid distribution platform, because we're a distributor, and it had to have the functionality that could allow us to run our business, because we're in the competitive, demanding petroleum industry," he added.
The Apex, North Carolina-based distributor soon realized that no one off-theshelf package could offer everything they were looking for. So the question then became: Which company could they rely on to work with them to develop the system they needed? "We were looking for a technology partner," Crouch said.
"We were not looking to be treated as just another number-we wanted somebody who could grow with us as we grew."
That somebody, as it turned out, was Epicor®. It didn't hurt that the solution PetroLiance examined, Epicor Prophet 21®, offered the basic building blocks PetroLiance wanted in its solution. Unlike much of the custom software produced for petroleum distributors, Prophet 21 is designed around a SQL Server® database and built from the ground up for Microsoft® Windows®, which makes it easier to tie into a wider range of standard and custom applications. That fact, plus the commitment Epicor made to provide the special features petroleum distributors need, led PetroLiance to become the first petroleum products distributor to adopt Epicor Prophet 21. The first of PetroLiance's four platforms went live on Prophet 21 in March 2007, and the others were brought on line over the course of that year.
Perseverance Pays Off
Of course, being the first adopter of anything means a steep learning curve for all the parties involved, and PetroLiance's implementation of Prophet 21 was no exception. Here, Crouch said, was where the people Epicor assigned to the task made the difference. "We've gotten great people to work with-we have line-of-sight contact with the programmers who are working with us to build the functionality we need, and they've been fabulous from the start."
Crouch said that with the key features implemented at the start of 2009, he anticipates significant operating efficiencies as a result of using Prophet 21. So far, he said, the biggest efficiency gain comes from running everything on one platform, but there are others that will soon follow, from improvements in strategic pricing, scheduling, routing, and dispatching, to more efficient warehouse management with the Prophet 21 Wireless Warehouse Management Solution.
The other big efficiency Crouch noted comes from the ability to interface Prophet 21 with specialized systems that handle petroleum product inventories, the scheduling of deliveries, and the management of fuel and lubricant stocks from supplier to customer. "It's very critical in our business that we reduce the costs of serving our customers," he said. "That runs to transactional costs, inventory costs, and especially delivery costs, which are the biggest part of our total costs.
"We've made great strides in integrating Prophet 21 with the systems we use to handle those functions, and we should be exactly where we want to be in the very near future. Having an organization that understands our business and is willing to help us advance the state of the industry makes a huge difference."
Epicor Software Corporation is a global leader delivering business software solutions to the manufacturing, distribution, retail, and services industries. With 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.