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The Challenge

ARS, an eighty-two-year-old company, had a problem: Speed of growth and ability to match evolving customer expectations were hampered by an obsolete operating data system. John White, President of ARS, explained, "We had a legacy on-premises solution that had fallen several versions behind in upgrades. We needed a technology partner that could help us facilitate a culture of change internally, streamline business processes and transform into a modern distribution organization.”

ARS is a premier wholesale distributor of refrigeration, air conditioning, heating parts, supplies, and equipment. With over 30 branch locations—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia—ARS leadership defined mandatory criteria for a new solution: it had to be cloud-based, provide an authentic partnership approach and support ARS through organizational transformation. White shared, “It is human nature to resist change. You need to be willing and able to embrace people where they are and help them through the journey.”

A thorough vetting yielded Epicor Prophet 21, deployed in the cloud, as the best answer to meet ARS’ needs. “The Epicor Azure environment offered a contemporary, flexible, scalable, and secure off-the-shelf solution, with the ability to tune the system to meet our specific requirements,” White said. “We also appreciated the shift from CapEx to OpEx that the cloud helped to enable, eliminating the need for a large capital outlay every year to maintain our infrastructure. In addition, the team approach and mindset that we saw during the sales phase gave us confidence in the Epicor partnership long-term.”

We evaluated other options that were built for distributors but believed that Epicor’s deep vertical focus best aligned with our business. Horizontal solutions were spread too broadly to offer a good fit. We didn’t want to be a small fish in a big pond.

Deliberate, Pragmatic Methodology

“Anyone who has gone through an implementation knows it is never perfect. The astute approach is to anticipate obstacles, invest in change management, and eliminate the opportunity for chaos. At ARS, we specifically wanted to minimize turnover associated with the change and not introduce an adverse impact on sales. We also had to factor in seasonality, as our teams would not be able to devote any energy to the switch during our busiest times,” White acknowledged.

Epicor assisted the ARS team in achieving success on all fronts. White disclosed, “Sales activity actually grew, despite the transition.”

He pointed out that a key opportunity presented by the change was business process optimization: “Simply moving existing processes to a new system doesn’t advance the business,” White said. “It's a window to assess all existing processes to evaluate what works, what needs to change, and how to take advantage of new tools.”

Planned and Unexpected Benefits

Although the Epicor deployment is less than six months old, ARS is seeing improvement in process efficiencies and responsiveness. White commented, “Tasks such as order entry, returns, purchase orders, and adding items to orders have all become streamlined. With features such as business rules, a job that took several steps over a couple of days is now completed in a single step, taking a few minutes."


He elaborated, “In other areas, we are still developing competency, but we can clearly see the efficiencies we will gain someday. For instance, if we need to move 80 items out of inventory, a branch would typically do that manually. Using the new import tools in Epicor Prophet 21 requires a learning curve today but will save resources in the long run.”


Epicor also is facilitating greater responsiveness to evolving customer expectations. "Features such as API integration, online ordering, bill pay, and reporting are all capabilities our customers want,” noted White. “Epicor gives us the ability to change and grow faster, to better meet customer demands, which further accelerates our growth.”


In a serendipitous moment, ARS leadership experienced a significant validation two weeks after the Epicor Prophet 21 go-live date concerning increased security against cyberattacks. White admitted.

Partnering for a State-of-the-Art Future

Resistance to change was a significant issue, exacerbated by the fact that most ARS' employees have been with the company for a decade or more. White divulged, “Change is always hard, especially for those comfortable with an old system. But, our newer employees love the modern, familiar look and feel and ease of the Epicor system. I think that also will be attractive to new talent. We are building a reputation for being a technologically progressive company.”

This shift also is aiding the evolution of ARS from a paper-based to a data-driven organization.

I used to get a 250-page month-end report,” White recalled.  “Now, we have real-time data at our fingertips.

Over the coming months, ARS has plans to complete a rollout of additional modules and features, including Epicor Wireless Warehouse and Proof of Delivery, Epicor Commerce Connect, and Epicor CRM. White added, “We are hoping to begin beta testing for Automation Studio soon, too, which we are excited about. Upgrading versions and adding new features is much easier for us now in Epicor's Cloud Environment.”

“We love to be on the cutting edge of technology, but that requires us to be comfortable with the learning that comes with it,” White remarked. “We are confident in trying new options because of our partnership with Epicor. The Epicor team is always ready and willing to listen, dive in and solve challenges. Partnerships are best tested when there is a challenge to work through, and I feel great about our relationship with Epicor.”

We had a ransomware attack on our old server and were getting menacing messages for the payoff. Since everything was already moved to the cloud, we didn’t skip a beat. It also was a great buy-in moment internally, to demonstrate in a very real way to our employees the value of the transition.

He summarized, “I’m proud of our choice to partner with Epicor and would absolutely make the same decision again.”

Company Facts

  • Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona, multi-location/multi-state operations
  • Specialist Industry: HVAC and Refrigeration Wholesaler
  • Website: www.arsnet.com

Challenges

  • Obsolete ERP system hindered growth
  • On-premises solution created security risk and version lock
  • Lack of true partnership and support

Benefits

  • Cloud delivers security, accessibility and cost controls
  • Improved customer focus, process efficiencies
  • Effective change management support

Contactar a Ventas

La industria de manufactura es exigente. También lo son sus clientes. Contar con las soluciones de administración empresarial correctas puede ayudar. Comuníquese con Epicor para hablar con un experto.

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