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The Challenge

Leading a fourth-generation company has many positive attributes: advancing a proud legacy, understanding the business from the ground up, and enjoying an established community reputation. The flip-side is the weight of maintaining that prosperity and being brave enough to drive transformative change to stay competitive.

That was the challenge facing Rodney Huber, president at Huber Supply Company. He explained, “We had a prior software vendor which lacked the tools, integration capability, and flexibility we needed to modernize and expand. We had adopted TrackAbout for cylinder rentals and learned that Epicor integrated with it. That piqued my interest.”

As Huber investigated, he recognized that Epicor Prophet 21 offered significant advantages. He shared, “It became clear that Epicor offered a great deal more than integration with TrackAbout. We realized how poor our previous vendor’s financial tools were, plus anytime we wanted to discuss an integration, it was either a flat ‘no’ or had a big price tag. Epicor had a different attitude.”

During the sales process, Epicor shared case studies about inventory reduction. Now we are one of those success stories: we reduced our inventory by $400,000 in the first year after moving to Epicor Prophet 21.

However, taking on a migration is always a scary proposition and Huber’s father recalled a large distributor who had gone out of business after a disastrous ERP implementation. “We were very conscious of not letting down our customers or the Huber name,” Huber recalled.

Continuity Confidence with the Cloud

Family-owned since 1939, today the great-grandchildren of founder George Huber carry on the company’s mission to provide excellent products and customer service. To support this charter in the 21st century, the business required a robust, made-for-distributors ERP solution.

Understanding several critical obstacles and the potential efficiencies that could be gained, Rodney Huber and his sister, Nicole Smith, vice president of administration at Huber Supply Company, investigated a handful of options and selected Epicor Prophet 21 deployed in the cloud.

The integration has enabled us to close tickets more efficiently and dramatically reduce the number of hot runs due to missed orders. Today, we have no open tickets. We used to have pages of them.

“The cloud was an important decision. Not only from a management standpoint, but cybersecurity is such a dynamic and critical issue. Our insurance depends on a robust business continuity plan, and it’s impossible to keep pace with the security landscape unless you have dedicated people,” Huber revealed.

Inventory Visibility and Control

“During the sales process, Epicor shared case studies about inventory reduction. Now we are one of those success stories: our inventory was trimmed by $400,000 in the first year after moving to Epicor Prophet 21,” Huber divulged.

Huber cites advanced inventory management features. “In the past, inability to pinpoint inventory status meant that product marked for one customer might get sold to another, or if a part wasn’t quickly located it would be re-ordered. Our inventory accuracy has dramatically improved with Epicor Prophet 21 because we have better systems for marking products as not-sellable, eliminating duplicate inventory, and ensuring that sold items are shipped out on time.”

Smith elaborated, “Epicor shows us exactly where each bin is. This precision has enabled us to pull a full cart in just 20 minutes. With the old system, it would have taken well over an hour.”

“Epicor has impacted the training process, too. It’s much easier to determine the exact location of a part number on an iPad rather than walking around searching for it,” she continued.

Epicor-enabled efficiencies extend beyond what’s contained in the warehouse. Huber observed, “Prior to Epicor we believed we were running out of floor space. Now, with much more efficient inventory management, we have some empty spaces, giving us room to add more SKUs and service more customers.”

Huber Supply gained an added bonus with the Epicor Prophet 21 deployment, too: “We found $15,000 to $20,000 of inventory that was not in our system when we switched,” Huber disclosed.

Another key integration is with TrackAbout, a tracking software for complete lifecycle transparency for returnable containers. Smith explained, “TrackAbout integrated with Epicor which has enabled us to close tickets more efficiently and dramatically reduce the number of hot runs due to missed orders. Today, we have no open tickets. We used to have pages of them.”

Unfettered Opportunity Ahead

The Huber Supply team is excited about the ongoing potential with Epicor. “It seems like a small thing but the search functionality in Epicor has saved a lot of time and frustration. It works just like a Google search, helping find customers by name or address, and to avoid creating duplicate accounts because a name wasn’t entered exactly as it appears in the system,” elaborated Smith.


Huber concluded, “Epicor has already enabled us to deploy a lot of functionality in just one year. Next, we are working on wireless warehouse management with a goal of moving to a totally paperless warehouse operation, and we are looking at connecting to vendor catalogs. Epicor has given us the confidence and foundation to grow how we want.”

Company Facts

  • Location: Mason City, Iowa
  • Specialist Industry: Industrial Gas and Welding Supply Distributor
  • Website: www.hubersupply.com

Challenges

  • Inadequate financial management tools
  • Outdated, insufficient inventory systems
  • Inability to integrate other solutions

Benefits

  • Reduce inventory by $400,000
  • Close books in a fraction of the time
  • Substantial productivity increases

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