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The Challenge

In 1928, just before the Great Depression, two visionary entrepreneurs switched on the lights of their first shop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In keeping with the company’s electrical products business, the building was the first west of the Mississippi with fluorescent lighting. Fast forward almost 100 years, and Van Meter is now the 14th largest electrical products distributor in the US. The employee-owned business has 25 locations in eight states, serving customers across the US and internationally.

Underpinning that success is an end-to-end distribution management solution from Epicor. “Without Epicor Eclipse, Van Meter could not operate as efficiently as it does or deliver its high-quality customer service," said Doug Whitmore, Software Developer at Van Meter. “The solution is a vital part of our business, touching almost every area of the organization.”

The partnership with Epicor began in 1995 when Van Meter was looking for a solution to drive operational improvements and efficiency and automate many of its business processes. The company is on a path of continuous improvement, and digitization is a key part of that strategy. The company has digitized its warehouses with vertical lifts, conveyors, and automated wire cutting.

Leading Edge Technology

“From a digital strategy standpoint, it is important for the company to be on the leading edge of technology,” shared Sam Slingluff, CIO at Van Meter. “Epicor continues to lead the charge in these efforts and put us in a great position to support our business and our customers.”

Van Meter is expanding its business by up to 15% a year. Recently, it opened a new facility in Kansas City to serve Missouri and Kansas. It also has two mobile facilities in Virginia and Alabama supporting mega-scale construction projects. Business partners like Epicor are key to supporting that expansion.

Without Epicor Eclipse, Van Meter could not operate as efficiently as it does or deliver high-quality customer service. The solution is a vital part of our business, touching every area of the organization.

Van Meter uses the Epicor Eclipse, a distribution management solution, across all aspects of its business, including finance, sales, inventory control, and warehouse operations. Eclipse is used by many employee-owners depending on their role and is run on-premises at Van Meter’s head office.

Moreover, Eclipse has been configured to integrate with several critical business systems, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Power BI for analytics, Innovo for truck delivery control, Power Pick for part selection, and Optimizely for e-commerce. One key integration is an automated wire-cutting and labelling application. This is a standout Van Meter service that processes and adds precise wire and cable lengths and accessories to a customer order.

Delivering Competitive Advantage

“Epicor Eclipse was, and still is, leading the pack when it comes to applications that improve electrical components management and distribution,” highlighted Whitmore. “Epicor Eclipse has given us a leg up on our competition and makes us unique because it is an open and flexible platform that we can customize and add new features as the business grows. Other canned solutions may not fit what we are trying to do.”

Customer orders come into Eclipse in multiple ways, such as email, EDI, and direct integration with customer applications, and are routed to warehouse fulfillment operations. A typical Van Meter location, comprising 300,000 square feet, is where the business uses Eclipse to manage stock and process order fulfillment and distribution. RF scanner guns (handheld wireless devices) linked to Eclipse help pickers select and scan products as they fulfill orders. In fact, Van Meter is one of the first distributors to use Eclipse to support robotic warehouse operations. Data from automated vertical lifts and conveyors that help staff find and pick parts for customer orders are constantly fed into Eclipse. Dedicated areas of the site hold specific products such as large pipes, wires, and cables.

“One of the many advantages of Epicor Eclipse is tracking order fulfillment without us needing to do anything,” explained Whitmore. “Eclipse creates a customer order, and if a part is out of stock, it automatically watches the inventory and, when available, completes the order by scheduling delivery to the customer.”

Efficiency and Productivity

As the foundation of business operations, Eclipse helps Van Meter save money, improve efficiency and increase productivity. With an inventory of around 150,000 different products, keeping track of price variations is complex, especially with recent fluctuations in items such as fuel. Eclipse draws in data from multiple sources and automatically adjusts prices to maintain margins. “Epicor Eclipse gives us the means to alter product prices every day based on changing costs so we can protect margins and profitability. Without it, we could erode our margins very quickly,” added Whitmore.

Additionally, Eclipse helps Van Meter reduce costs in other ways, such as making staff more productive. “With Epicor Eclipse, we can see how many picks people are making, how many staff we need at any given time, numbers of hits on products, and how best to organize a warehouse,” said Kevin Foht, Director of Operations at Van Meter. “This has created a lot of efficiencies and helped increase pick rates.”

Van Meter’s customers benefit from specialized services using Eclipse, such as customized labelling and a ‘single billing’ process where multiple orders and shipments are amalgamated onto a single invoice.

Supporting Business Growth

Eclipse supports the company’s ambition to expand by making it easy to set up new locations. “We can launch a new site with a small team but quickly scale up as demand increases. With Epicor Eclipse already running our 25 existing sites, it gives us a platform from which to grow to a larger operation,” stated Nate Etten, Director of Operations at Van Meter. “Eclipse gives us the confidence to step into some of these expansion opportunities and know we have a platform that works.”

The fact that we can manage all our locations on one instance of Epicor Eclipse and scale easily to meet our needs and customers' needs provides Van Meter with a single source of truth.

Van Meter is also looking at how Eclipse can support the use of data for predicting AI-based customer and market demand. “With larger customers, we get involved in planning processes so we can support those customers and know what they want and when they need it,” said Whitmore, “We want to get to a position that when a call comes into a salesperson, we can use AI to know what they will ask for based on prior purchasing habits. We are using Epicor Eclipse to support that.”

“The fact that we can manage all our locations on one instance of Epicor Eclipse and scale easily to meet our needs and the needs of customers can help to provide Van Meter with a single source of truth,” concluded Slingluff.

Company Facts

  • Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, US
  • Specialist Industry: Electrical Distribution
  • Website:


  • Drive digital transformation
  • Gain competitive advantage
  • Reduce slow, manual process


  • Support integration to robotic warehouse operations
  • Running on 25 sites and platform to quickly scale
  • Protects margins and profitability
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