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United Electric Supply Epicor Professional Services

Epicor Technology Infrastructure weathers the storm

Tom Cloud never thought that he would actually need his disaster recovery plan. "It was just something the company accountants recommended we put together a few years ago," says the chairman and CEO of United Electric Supply Co.

But after a tornado ripped through the New Castle, Delaware headquarters of his 11-location distributorship, he realized how invaluable the plan was. "We were out in the parking lot, looking at our building after the wind tore our roof off," remembers Cloud. "When emotions run that high, you don't want to have to decide what to do next."

"We wanted to be able to get our business back up and running within 72 hours of a disaster. We knew we could depend on the people at Epicor to maintain our solution so we could focus on other things."

Tom Cloud
Chairman and CEO | United Electric Supply

The two-inch-thick plan-a step-by-step post-disaster guide-included everything from a personnel roll call to a listing of local commercial real estate available for immediate occupancy. "There were so many things we never would have thought of."

Also included in the plan: Long-term preparation and response tactics for the company's Epicor technology infrastructure. "When we initially drew up the plan, we realized that our entire infrastructure ran out of one location," Cloud says. "Which just happened to be the location hit by the tornado."

Serious Business

An enterprise software solution providing customer, product, and financial information is the backbone of any business today-and must be treated as such.

But what many executives don't realize is that an out-of-commission solution can cost their company far more than just a few days' profits. A study by Jon Toigo, an IT disaster recovery expert, reveals that businesses experiencing outages lasting for more than 10 days never completely recover financially. Even more sobering: 50 percent of companies suffering such an outage go out of business within five years.

Luckily, Cloud understood the gravity of a potential disaster. "We knew we had to have strong, reliable back-up in place," he says. "We have 200-plus employees hitting our solution on a daily basis. We realized that couldn't stop if something happened."

So as part of the planning process, United Electric worked with its technology partner, Epicor, to make sure its technology infrastructure could withstand a disaster. Epicor technical consultants worked with IT executives to build a back-up solution complete with hardware and a solid, live data connection.

And, to ensure that United Electric employees could focus on getting their business back up and running in the event of an emergency, Epicor hosted the setup.

"We did that with one specific goal in mind," Cloud says. "We wanted to be able to get our business back up and running within 72 hours of a disaster. We knew we could depend on the people at Epicor to maintain our solution so we could focus on other things."

Did it work? "Our 10 branches were operating as though nothing happened within 24 hours of the tornado," Cloud says. "Which is remarkable considering our headquarters was completely condemned."

After a Disaster

Cloud reports that customers were "astonished" that United Electric was back in business so fast. "Because we had a plan in place, everyone knew where to go and what to do," he says. "It kept us focused."

Main phone lines were rerouted to the company's Dover, Delaware and Vineland, New Jersey locations, along with the inside sales staff. And because United Electric's database was completely accessible, inventory managers could generate requirement reports and purchase orders to fill customer needs-even though $3.2 million worth of stock in he Wilmington warehouse was completely inaccessible.

Cloud also offers a few words of advice to other distributors thinking about composing a business-and technology-disaster plan. "Chances are, you're never going to need it," he says. "But we're living proof that it's prudent to have a plan in place. The business consequences would have been far more serious if we hadn't had a plan in place."

Company Facts

Location: New Castle, Delaware

Industry: Electrical

Number of Employees: 324

Web site:


Help a Delaware-based electric supplier get their enterprise software solution online after a natural disaster strikes


Epicor Professional Services: Technical Consulting

Epicor Professional Services: Hardware Hosting


Business back online within 24 hours of disaster

Minimized lost sales

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