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American Packaging

Howard Edelman has accuracy on the brain. The vice president of marketing for American Packaging, a packaging products and equipment distributor based in San Leandro, California, estimates that inventory accuracy at his company currently hovers around 99 percent, a significant jump from where it was five years earlier.

  • “"We’ve found that Prophet 21 gives you back 150 percent of what you put in, so it truly pays to know all of its capabilities—our business is better for it."”
  • Howard Edelman
  • Vice President of Marketing, American Packaging

“We had a tremendous amount of inventory control problems with our old system,” explains Edelman. “At the time, we were probably 25 percent accurate in our warehouse, so we were taking inventory an average of three to four times a year.”

According to Edelman, each of those three or four physical inventory counts would take a week of preparation and two days of counting and recounting. Now, American Packaging has to conduct only one physical inventory a year, and it takes approximately four hours. So what’s the difference between then and now?

In 2001, Edelman called for a change from their old business system to Epicor Prophet 21—a change that not everyone at the company was happy about at the time.

“When we first switched to Prophet 21, our people fought against it because they didn’t understand the solution—it made us look at our business a different way,” says Edelman. “But now, the results speak for themselves.”


Besides wanting to improve inventory accuracy, Edelman cites Prophet 21 scalable Microsoft® SQL Server® database as another reason he pushed for the switch. When drilling for data in their old system, employees had to scroll through unorganized lists and hope they’d stumble upon what they needed—a cumbersome procedure that hindered customer service.

“Sixty percent of what we sell is custom-made for our customers, so drilling into sales data is extremely important for us,” Edelman says. “Now, if customers call and say, ‘I ordered this box from you so many months ago, but I don’t remember the dimensions,’ we can quickly view their sales history and have that information in moments.”

A companion to Prophet 21 comprehensive sales history is the Item Master Inquiry feature, which tracks everything that’s happening with a particular item, from open purchase orders and back orders to average price and margin, and displays it with the F2 key.

“F2 is my favorite key. I’m like a salesman, walking around saying, ‘F2 is great! Press F2,’” laughs Edelman. “If you want to see anything that’s happening with an item—how many customers are buying it, who we buy the item from, if it’s a seasonal item—all you have to do is press that key and all of its information pops up.”

Get More Than You Give

Edelman’s interest inaccuracy didn’t appear by accident—it’s just what packaging customers demand. Whenever he speaks with prospective customers about what they look for in a distributor,  the common theme is almost always accuracy: in placing orders, order filling, and invoicing. 

“Many of our prospective customers find that they’re wasting too much time trying to figure out what they received and whether they were billed at the right price,” says Edelman. "We’re able to do those things much better than our competitors and a lot of it has to do with Prophet 21.” 

Looking back on American Packaging’s five years of history with Epicor and Prophet 21, Edelman contrasts the early resistance from employees to adopt the solution with the success they’re now having: a disparity he blames on an overly aggressive go-live date. 

“If I could do it again, I would extend our implementation time and focus more on set-up and training,” concludes Edelman. “We’ve found that Prophet 21 gives you back 150 percent of what you put in, so it truly pays to know all of its capabilities— our business is better for it.” 

American Packaging Corporate Logo

Company Facts

  • Location: San Leandro, California
  • Industry: Packaging distributor
  • Web site:


  • Help a San Leandro, California-based packaging distributor satisfy customers’ needs while improving inventory accuracy 



  • Increased inventory accuracy from 25 to 99 percent
  • Reduced instances and length of physical inventory counts
  • Improved access to item, sales, and customer information 

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