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Jergens Industrial Supply (JIS) is headquartered in Ohio and known as the state’s largest technical distributor of industrial products. A division of Jergens, Inc.—a manufacturer of standard tooling components and working holding equipment—JIS Inventory Solutions Group delivers 30% of the company’s business.

Established in 1960, JIS represents more than 300 of the top manufacturers for industrial supply in the United States. Committed to being a partner in productivity, the company makes every effort to create a frictionless inventory management solution.

Battling It out with the Big Box

More and more customers are jumping online and buying, so, we need to get ahead of the click. We have to give people access to the tools they need to do their jobs right on the shop floor.

The rise of Amazon® created a lot of opportunities for JIS to grow. They first had to figure out how to compete with their larger competitors’ vast order volume and buying power. Next, they needed to learn how to cater to a growing millennial customer base with high expectations for a technology-enabled, friction-free customer experience.

“One of the problems our customers typically have is that they don’t have the tools that they need in order to do their job,” explained Matt Schron, General Manager at Jergens Industrial Supply. “We’re always trying to help them get the supplies that they need quicker, faster, better, and at a lower cost.” The ever-growing competition that Amazon presented was the perfect reason for the company to start innovating in order to achieve those goals.

“More and more customers are jumping online and buying,” Schron said. “So, we need to get ahead of the click. We have to give people access to the tools they need to do their jobs right on the shop floor.”

Incorporating Automation into the Mix

In keeping with its commitment to adding value to processes and reducing waste, JIS set out to offer a simple inventory management solution for today’s always-on manufacturing enterprise.

The innovation began around 2012 with the deployment of AutoCrib® vending machine systems stocked with inventory at an agreed-upon price. Personnel received a unique pin code and ordered the parts they needed simply by scanning a barcode.

In 2015, realizing the opportunity to convert these vending machines into “smart machines,” JIS approached MindHARBOR Inc. to help integrate its vending and ERP systems. This included Epicor Prophet 21 software—a leading enterprise software solution for distributors that combines the power of Microsoft® SQL Server® and the familiarity of Windows® in a solution designed to meet distributors’ specific business needs.

Following this successful initiative, the two companies began to study the early Internet of Things (IoT) Dash Buttons that Amazon was bringing to market. This sparked a plan to engineer Wi-Fi-enabled IoT buttons themselves, which would support on-premises remote product resupply.

Integrating the IoT Button

One of the biggest ways that the JIS team figured out how to get “ahead of the click” was through their JIS Express Program, which spread their IoT buttons to multiple vendors. When pressed, the button sends an order to the distributor that includes the part number and the amount of product that needs to be replenished.

In the past, employees would need to take a card that was placed near the product to a purchasing person. This would only happen when the quantity was lower than a certain minimum, which was often an inefficient process for their customers. “Today, we have the buttons that we can press that actually allow you to reorder those items,” Schron explained. “It’s a visual reminder right there in front of the person.”

If a customer has multiple buttons within their facility, they will get a consolidated order sent to them at the end of the day. They can review it to see what quantities were purchased and make changes as needed. Otherwise, they can confirm the order—prompting the items to be delivered to them.

Getting Quantifiable Results

Integrating JIS vending machines and IoT buttons into their customers’ warehouses has been transformative for the company’s bottom line. Since integrating their machines with Epicor Prophet 21 software, the company has experienced 30% improved productivity—which represents millions of dollars in cost savings.

JIS has become a digital disruptor by taking just-in-time inventory to a whole new “push-button” level. Thanks to their innovation, manufacturers are only billed for inventory as it is dispensed.

Every time a JIS Express button is pushed, it collectively represents hundreds of millions of dollars saved. It reduces walk and talk time for workers to get the tools and materials needed. It decreases time and effort in contracting and purchase order processing for manufacturing back-office personnel. It also lowers time and effort for JIS customer service personnel in contracting, order entry, and fulfillment.

“With its JIS Express buttons, JIS has been able to reach a whole new customer demographic. We box out competitors by giving customers a reason to keep giving JIS their business—a smart, ‘sticky,’ just-in-time inventory management solution that helps to offer the ultimate convenience and can scale as they grow” concluded Schron.

Company Facts

  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Specialist Industry: Industrial Machinery Manufacturing
  • Website:


  • Increased competition from industrial supply behemoths with vast order volume and buying power
  • Need to cater to an empowered customer base with greater buying choices, and a millennial customer base with high expectations for a friction-free, online customer experience.


  • Integration of the IoT button allowed for automatic sending of orders to the distributor, and automated product replenishment.
  • Doubled buttons deployment in the field, so a greater number of orders are received, with an increased, corresponding sales volume every two months.
  • Integration with Epicor Prophet 21 has increased productivity by 30%.
  • Significant reduction in customer service time and resource.
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