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The challenge

As head of a fourth-generation family company, Sean Simmons, president of Tuffaloy Products, starts each day with a question: “What can I do today to improve our business and make it stronger to pass on to the fifth generation?”

Founded in 1937, Tuffaloy was born when Simmons’ great-grandfather introduced a new line of resistance welding alloys. Over the decades, the business has expanded to six sites across the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Today, Tuffaloy stocks thousands of products and partners with distributors to ensure customers have high-quality, cost-effective resistance welding consumables and accessories readily available to support their needs.

Naturally, this growth encountered a few obstacles. A major one was Tuffaloy’s aged DOS-based green-screen ERP system. Simmons revealed, “We were basically one Windows update away from being out of business. The system wasn’t built to drive growth or communicate with other platforms. Plus, we were acquiring companies to diversify and needed a way to bring those organizations onboard quickly and easily. Our existing system had us boxed in.” said Sean Simmons.

With a crystal-clear commitment to Tuffaloy’s mission, Simmons ensures resources are channeled to the right priorities. “We don’t have a full-time IT staff and I don’t want to invest in one. I want to partner with companies that are experts in IT, who can offer us the solutions, uptime and security we need,” he explained.

As Simmons and his team evaluated ERP options, there were several non-negotiable requirements: integration with existing internal and external systems, a cloud platform for remote access, and a solution specifically designed for manufacturing. Simmons said, “One vendor required a lot of customization for our made-to-stock and pick-and-pack sites. Another was not a pure plug-and-play cloud solution. Epicor was the only provider that met all of our criteria.”

Expert consultants, seamless implementation

Even the most seasoned executive approaches the transition to a new business system with trepidation. Any qualms were abated with the creation of a comprehensive implementation plan. Simmons shared, “Epicor assigned two consultants to work side-by-side with us, training our personnel, writing custom code, transferring the data, validating, and testing. The result was a transition that went as smoothly as I could have possibly imagined.”

Immediate benefits delivered by Epicor Kinetic included a highly intuitive interface, in-depth education, and a robust feature set, including ease of working with multiple currencies and improved supply chain visibility. Internal teams were delighted with the new system. “Our customer service team was very nervous about the prospect of change but once they saw Epicor Kinetic in action, they wished they had access to it years ago,” Simmons added.

Epicor has made our entire business more metrics driven and transparent. The result is that employees feel more connected to our mission. Automated dashboards at all of our sites project real-time KPIs so each person can see their own impact on the business and how we are performing collectively. It’s very, very powerful.

A key benefit of the Epicor solution is API integration. In addition to improving logistics by connecting to external applications such as FedEx and UPS, Epicor Kinetic also connects with Tuffaloy’s internal systems. Simmons described, “We have approximately 6,500 products on our website, and store all the data in Epicor, making for very easy updates and maintenance. The same is true with our custom e-commerce site for distributors; Epicor pushes all the data to the site for real-time order information.”

Creating a more transparent, metrics-driven organization

Epicor has delivered impressive outcomes throughout Tuffaloy. The enhanced visibility from Epicor Kinetic has resulted in increased on-time delivery in Canada, jumping from around 65% to 90%. Similarly, in the US, on-time delivery was boosted from 80% to 92% — and is still rising.

Cash cycle improvements include a 50% decrease in manufacturing overtime costs in the first year alone due to Epicor-driven efficiencies. Simmons elaborated, “As an example, we can now see the cash impact of a copper purchase — our primary raw material — in multiple timeframes. Epicor gives us the business intelligence needed to make critical decisions earlier and with a higher degree of confidence.”

By leveraging real-time data Tuffaloy has been able to optimize their supply chain performance. Epicor provides the visibility needed to quickly identify potential inventory issues and automatically notifies impacted departments to enable them to take corrective action, like using alternative suppliers or substituting components.

Providing easy access to records from mobile devices has increased the productivity of sales personnel. For accounting, greater efficiencies have given staff additional time to focus on priority tasks such as collections; days sales outstanding (DSO) was slashed from more than 50 days down to 35.

Of personal benefit to Simmons is a massive reduction in travel time.  “We’ve cut executive travel by 50% because we can now access operational data remotely and therefore don’t require as much on-site time to ensure everything is functioning effectively,” he noted.

Epicor gives us the business intelligence needed to make critical decisions earlier and with a higher degree of confidence. Without doubt, Epicor is helping achieve my goal of improving Tuffaloy and leaving it in a stronger, future-ready position for the next generation.

Simmons shared that, “Epicor has made our entire business more metrics driven and transparent. The result is that employees feel more connected to our mission. Automated dashboards at all of our sites project real-time KPIs so each person can see their own impact on the business and how we are performing collectively. It’s very, very powerful.”

Forecasting added advantages

Despite the already long and impressive list of benefits, Simmons sees additional advantages ahead from his partnership with Epicor. He has plans to utilize Epicor Machine Learning and AI capabilities to improve forecasting and further optimize inventory levels. There also is a sales order automation project underway and planned deployment of Epicor Data Analytics for improved budgeting.

“Epicor listens to its customers and uses that feedback to drive improvement.” Simmons said. “The Epicor solutions grow and adapt with you. With them being cloud-based, we have the freedom to cherry-pick which functionality or capabilities we want to adopt next. We just flip the switch when we are ready.”

He concluded, “Without doubt, Epicor is helping achieve my goal of improving Tuffaloy and leaving it in a stronger, future-ready position for the next generation.”

Company Facts

  • Location: Greer, South Carolina
  • Specialist Industry: Electronics and High-Tech Manufacturing
  • Website: www.tuffaloy.com

Challenges

  • Minimal ability to leverage data to support business growth
  • Lack of integration between core business applications
  • Limited visibility into remote operations

Benefits

  • Company-wide business intelligence is driving dramatic improvements in key business areas, including delivery, production, and finance
  • Increase on-time delivery from 80% to 92%+; decrease DSO >30%; 50% drop in overtime
  • Sharing of data has resulted in a metrics-driven organization and an empowered workforce

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