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Steel Blue and Epicor:
a high-performing partnership

Based in Western Australia, Steel Blue was formed by five people in a garage with a passion for footwear and over 100 years’ experience realising a gap in the Australian market – premium safety work boots that were not only durable but also highly comfortable.Twenty-six years later Steel Blue has sold over 11 million pairs of boots across 40 different countries while staying true to their Aussie heritage.

Their Trisole® Comfort Technology, a multilayer soling system, pioneered comfort in the Australian safety footwear industry.

Their full range of men’s and women’s safety boots meet Australian, European and American Safety Standards and are the only safety boot manufacturer endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). Garry Johnson, CEO of Steel Blue said, “We sell our footwear across 40 countries. Not only have we created the most comfortable safety work boot, but we’ve taken it to the world. We are really proud of our heritage, which stems from our five founders who had a long history in footwear, but also some of them were playing professional sport. They talked of the advancements in sports through technology in comfort and something just clicked - what if we could make a work boot that was just as comfortable as sports shoes. That’s how Steel Blue came about, and they bravely started the business with that business plan because they felt workers were worth a better and more comfortable work boot.”

A dedicated partner to boost operational efficiency

“Epicor® is the whole foundation of the operations part of our business from finance, customer service, supply chain functions, and manufacturing to support the business globally.,” says Jeff Knowler, Steel Blue Chief Operations Officer. Prior to partnering with Epicor, Steel Blue needed a solution to keep up with increasing shipping and receiving functions across multiple warehouses. Epicor Kinetic provided them with innovative technology and flexibility they needed to grow.

“Epicor is the whole foundation of the operations part of our business from finance, customer service, supply chain functions, and manufacturing to support the business globally. Customer service experience improved significantly.”

They were also able to implement distribution best practices and deliver easily accessible productivity data for managers within each warehouse. The most valuable feature of Epicor Kinetic is how you can configure dashboards and analytics to understand exactly what you need to know in realtime. The level of integrations is crucial and helps drive consolidation of ordering processes. With Epicor Kinetic, Steel Blue reduced the time it took to prepare orders by 10-15%.

“Customer service experience improved significantly,” Knowler explains, which wouldn’t have been possible without Epicor. Steel Blue was able to combine multiple orders into one box for improved productivity and the ease of the customer, while keeping separate invoices per order for the customer company.

Steel Blue chose Epicor because of its manufacturing industry expertise. Steel Blue is able to make strategic, data-driven decisions using the capabilities of Epicor Kinetic. Epicor provides the operational efficiency, industry expertise, and long-term partnership Steel Blue needs to keep the world’s hardest working professionals protected, comfortable, and secure in their boots.

An innovative company culture

Steel Blue is a company of many firsts, Johnson said, “So how do we overcome that barrier for people to have confidence in the product and actually put it on their feet? It was a ‘leap of faith’ moment that entrepreneurs have to go through, and we decided to take the plunge and show confidence in our product by offering a 30-Day 100% Comfort Guarantee. This was the pivotal moment, after that Steel Blue started to grow rapidly.”

As an industry leader, Steel Blue is also committed to social responsibility. Through their In Our Stride Sustainability Roadmap, they have identified five strategic priorities to help overcome the challenges they face today and into the future.

Their five key goals, aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, include Human Rights, Climate, Environment, Diversity & Inclusion, and Communities. Some of their achievements to date include:

  • Installation of a 100kw solar panel at their Head Office and Manufacturing facility that generates 71% of power during peak operations and 100% during off-peak operation periods.
  • Usage of electric only forklifts in our WA warehouse.
  • Raising over $1.5M in support of Breast Cancer Care WA through the pink and purple boots initiative; an organisation that provides specialized breast care nursing, financial support and counselling to those affected by breast cancer, and their loved ones.
  • Raising over $300,000 in support of Beyond Blue through the blue boots initiative; a mental health service that provides support and information
    about depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.

“Knowledge is powerful and if you don’t have a good ERP system, you can’t make good business decisions. We invested heavily in the business and pushed ourselves to strive to the next step, like the sporting culture in the early days where you’re always striving to get a ‘personal best’. That’s the culture that I’m proud we’ve been able to maintain over 26-years. ”

Steel Blue is a shining example of how aspiration, product innovation, social responsibility, and technology partnership can build a truly remarkable culture.

Company Facts

  • Location: Malaga, Western Australia
  • Specialist Industry: Footwear Manufacturing
  • Website: www.steelblue.com.au

Challenges

  • Unable to keep up with increasing shipping and receiving functions across multiple warehouses
  • Needed flexible and innovative software to support company growth
  • No access to real-time data and statistics across multiple warehouses

Benefits

  • The integration functions allowed a more consolidated ordering process, and reduced 10-15% of time in preparing orders
  • Implement distribution best practices, and deliver easily accessible productivity data for managers within each warehouse
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