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Built to Last

For 32 of the last 70 years, the Zitter family has relied on Epicor Prophet 21 to run its business of providing industrial supplies for manufacturers. Through intrepid trailblazing, personal loss, economic swings and persistent growth, Sterling Supply Company matured from John E. Zitter’s silver-plating business to a trusted distributor of industrial supplies for the machining industry. When John Senior passed away in 1972, his wife, Regina "Jerry" Zitter, took over the reins, making up for her lack of experience with a can-do attitude that demanded her respect on the men-only industry convention floors at that time.

Today, nearly three-quarters of a century later, her son John Zitter, President of Sterling Supply Company, and his brothers manage the still-flourishing business.

Confidence in the Cloud

In 1991, Sterling Supply adopted Epicor Prophet 21. The original decision to move to Epicor was prompted by Zitter’s concerns about the reliability and security of Sterling Supply’s homegrown and disparate systems.

He explained, “We had challenges keeping our ERP and connecting systems for the various functional areas up to date. I feared we could lose our data because of the many issues. It was just a constant worry.”

We’ve been a happy Epicor Prophet 21 customer for more than three decades. It has everything we, as a distributor, need to manage and grow our business. Epicor Prophet 21 IS our business.

Zitter picked up his original Epicor Prophet 21 system in the family station wagon. With the on-premises system in place, he had a seamless, integrated and purpose-built-for-distribution solution. But his qualms weren’t completely alleviated. Zitter shared, “As the president and owner, I’m concerned about everything from ransomware threats to the server overheating and the big question: how long will our business be down if something does happen?”

He continued, “And when our database is our lifeblood, if something happens to it, our business is dead.” Additionally, as head of a small company with a tiny part-time IT staff, Zitter felt that he needed to do more to strengthen his IT defenses.

Recently, he began conversations with the Epicor team about migrating to the cloud. “Now, Epicor Prophet 21 running on Microsoft Azure Cloud eliminated my fears,” Zitter exclaimed.

Frictionless Evolution

A fast, smooth implementation followed. “It was quick and easy,” Zitter highlighted. “Once we flipped the switch, we uploaded our database over a weekend and were up and running Monday morning.”

Now, he doesn’t waste any time fretting about ERP hardware. Zitter elaborated, “I can sleep at night.”

The cloud helped to deliver other benefits, too. “Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud has freed me to focus on higher-priority areas such as operations, sales and purchasing,” he stated. “Knowing that we are always running on the latest version, that updates happen automatically and that Epicor is constantly working to enhance the solution and add new functionality, has been amazing.”

And the timing of the migration was exceptionally fortuitous: moving to the cloud in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic made Sterling Supply’s shift to working from home seamless and hassle-free.

Scalability helps to Enable the Business to Gain

Despite a continuing shake-out in the industry, Sterling Supply has been experiencing double-digit growth. Zitter revealed, “The number of distributors like us is shrinking while the big players are getting bigger. But many customers want a provider that will meet them where they are, not force them to conform. We’ve definitely noticed an uptick in new business from customers who prefer the flexibility, attention and support of a smaller company.”

He elaborated, “The scalability of Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud means that we’ve been able to accommodate expansion without adding new headcount.”

The scalability of Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud means that we’ve been able to accommodate expansion without adding a new headcount.

In addition to enabling rapid growth, Zitter is utilizing Epicor Prophet 21 to increase profit margins too, citing, “All information—customer, suppliers, inventory—is accessible. If there is a price increase coming, I can easily see what we've been selling and then use that information to buy a couple of extra months of inventory ahead in order to beat the price increase.

A Solution to Grow On

Zitter and his team also value Epicor’s intuitive interface and ease of use. This makes using the system simple for Sterling Supply veterans, and effortless for new hires to learn. He highlighted one example: “Our assistant manager is responsible for month-end closing. Epicor Prophet 21 makes it so simple; the job takes her about 20 minutes. It’s just amazing.”

“We’ve been a happy Epicor Prophet 21 customer for more than three decades,” Zitter emphasized. “It has everything we, as a distributor, need to manage and grow our business. Epicor Prophet 21 IS our business.”

Company Facts

  • Location: Huntington, WV
  • Specialist Industry: Industrial Distribution
  • Website:


  • Discrete, homegrown systems
  • Minimal in-house IT resources
  • Industry consolidation


  • Centralized, integrated, single source of truth
  • Cloud-based solution liberates resources
  • Automatic upgrades, current security protocols
  • Scalability helps to enable growth
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