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"Our biggest challenge is staying in front of the trends by keeping a complete line of products onsite at our 100,000-square foot warehousing facility in Fort Worth," says Rob Dailey, National Door's IT Manager for the past eight years. "Although it's been a bit tough over the past few years due to the downturn in the housing market, we've stayed on top due to our ability to fulfill orders for nearly every part imaginable, including the ones that manufacturers discontinued years ago. We are also the only supplier in our industry that can produce virtually any type of window frame."

Gaining control over inventory data

Founded in 1968, National Door began the search for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution after spending nearly 20 years working with a homegrown, DOS-based system that lacked the ability to generate customized reports as well as track trends and inventories. "It was all guesswork at the end of the day," explains Dailey. "The old system provided raw data but nothing else. Everything was done with spreadsheets. There was no way to research customer histories. We had to physically check the status of parts. Needless to say, billing was a nightmare."

After exploring numerous options, National Door chose the Epicor ERP (now know as Kinetic) solution. "The system offered tremendous flexibility in customizing our own program and offering the ability to add checks and balances to our entry screens to fit our business processes," Dailey states. "For instance, we color coded data entry fields to ensure our production schedule aligned with delivery dates. Most systems lack this level of self-customization, but we were able to integrate this function totally on our own."

With capabilities like these, National Door was able to sift through its entire inventory and organize its new database so materials and parts could be cross-referenced by groups, classes, customer purchases, and numerous other categories. As a result, the company reduced its physical inventory by 50 percent over the past three years, while maintaining daily production rates.

According to Dailey, additional advantages included the ability to better identify costs and subsequently increase profitability by either raising the prices of specific product lines or phasing out underperforming ones. The duplication of efforts, especially in billing and shipping, has also been eliminated, since Epicor ERP "can now find virtually any type of information in moments," reports Dailey.

"We have always prided ourselves on shipping most orders the same day," he adds. "Before, we had to have tons of inventory on the shelf just in case. With Epicor ERP [Kinetic], we now manufacture items faster due to the enhanced ability to forecast customer buyer trends, and ups and downs in the housing market. We've even tied our manufacturing process to the seasonal demands of customers. This has enabled us to remove a ridiculous amount of unneeded inventory from our shelves."

Fast and intuitive

As for the future, National Door has made plans to upgrade its current Epicor ERP system based on the promise of retrieving more data at even quicker speeds. "I have been an Epicor user for the past four years," offers Brian Ditter, National Door Plant Manager. "I really like how easily it is customized for each user. I have been considered a 'power user' on multiple ERP systems over the last 25 years, and Epicor ERP is by far the easiest to pick up and learn. The way that information moves through the system is very intuitive. After seeing a glimpse of the next generation system, I can't wait for the upgrade."

Epicor Solutions

ManufacturingKinetic

Company Highlights

Challenges

  • Create a database that cross-references nearly 9,000 separate parts and products according to class, group, size, and customer purchases to identify industry trends, improve profitability, and reduce unneeded inventory

Benefits

  • Reduced physical inventory by 50 percent over the past three years, while maintaining daily production rates

  • Better identify costs and subsequently increase profitability by either raising the prices of specific product lines or phasing out underperforming ones

  • Eliminated duplication of labor, especially in billing and shipping

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