Auto Body Specialties

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Auto Body Specialties (ABS) is a second-generation paint, body, and equipment distributor based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To ABS, process improvement is more than a business objective-it's been in the company's DNA since founders Harley and Sallie Roddel first opened their doors in 1950. Today, four of the couple's five children own and operate the business, which now serves automotive collision repair and customization as well as industrial businesses in five markets spanning portions of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska.


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It's our job to help customers maintain their relationships with the insurance companies, and a big part of that comes through being more efficient in everything you do.

Jim Roddel, President | Auto Body Specialties
Company Facts
  • Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Industry: Automotive Aftermarket
  • Number of Locations: 6
  • Website: www.absdelivers.com

Challenges
  • Continue to grow the business through the use of new technology

Solution
  • Epicor Eagle for the Aftermarket

Benefits
  • More scalable than the Prism software
  • Automated special ordering
  • Enables customers with electronic ordering, inventory search, and access to account statements and invoices 

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“Our parents had the vision and financial means to help the next generationtake over and build on their success,” says Jim Roddel, president of thecompany and co-owner with his sisters, Connie, Becky, and Margie. “The PBEmarket has changed quite a bit and it's harder to maintain margins and stayahead of expenses, so we can never stop looking for ways to become moreoperationally efficient.

”Although originally an automotive replacement parts and PBE distributor,ABS now focuses on automotive finishes, replacement glass, sheet metalcomponents, bumpers, tools and equipment, as well as industrial coatings.ABS has been affiliated with the PPG paint and glass lines for much ofits history and in 2011 purchased another large PPG distributor, based inMankato, Minnesota. The company employs approximately 70 and operates afleet of nearly 40 delivery and sales trucks.

Outpacing a changing industry

A growing number of independent collision shops have seenthe need to affiliate with major insurers through direct repairprograms (DRP), which impose strict limits on materials andlabor costs. Ultimately, these pressures are borne by all partnersin the industry supply chain, including distributors like ABS.“We've learned to embrace the DRPs because they control thedollars behind most repairs,” Roddel explains. “So it's our job tohelp customers maintain their relationships with the insurancecompanies, and a big part of that comes through being moreefficient in everything you do.”

Operational efficiency doesn't come easy in a business withthousands of SKUs ranging from paint to large vehicle bodyparts. Because of the unpredictable demand for specific sheetmetal and glass items, a large percentage of the Roddels'daily transactions involve special orders. And in spite of thelong, reliable service of the company's Epicor Prism™ businessmanagement software, this growing complexity was becomingan operational headache. “I called our Epicor representative andsaid, “There's got to be a better way,” Roddel says.

Investing in the future

To identify that “better way,” Epicor visited ABS to performa detailed time analysis covering the special-order process.Through this study, it was determined that the equivalent of twofull-time employees were required to execute the approximately150 daily special orders being generated at ABS locations.

The Epicor product support team helped to identify a solutionthat would help ABS automate not only special orders but also a full range of other labor-intensive processes and recommendedEpicor Eagle for the Aftermarket software.

“Their team did a presentation and showed us how we coulduse Eagle to track everything electronically, and we were justblown away,” Roddel says. “That in itself convinced us it wastime to upgrade. We saw that there would definitely be afinancial payback.”

Tracking system ROI

The decision to move to a new business management solutionwasn't taken lightly. “Prism had been successful everywhere inour business, so the decision made for a few sleepless nights,”Roddel says. “But within three months we realized that it wasone of the best decisions we had ever made.”

The Eagle solution is now running virtually every area of thebusiness, from point of sale, to purchasing, to pricing, and tomanaging special orders. The system is infinitely more scalablethan the Prism software, which Roddel saw firsthand following theacquisition of the company's fifth location, in Mankato. “We'vehandled a greatly increased number of special orders withouthaving to add an equivalent number of employees,” he says.

ABS will implement the Eagle solution's barcode receivingcapability and automated management of delivery operations.ABS has also leveraged the Eagle solution to build a thrivingeStore, which enables customers to place electronic orders,search inventories, and access account statements and invoices.“That's been a big success for us,” Roddel says. “Not only aremore and more of our customers using it, but our field sales repshave found it's a great platform for entering orders when they'reout on the road.”

About Epicor

picor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software that is designed around the needsof our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 40 years of experience with our customers'unique business processes and operational requirements is built into every solution-in the cloud, or on premises. With a deepunderstanding of your industry, Epicor solutions spur growth while managing complexity. The result is powerful solutions that freeyour resources so you can grow your business. For more information, connect with Epicor or visit www.epicor.com.

Epicor solutions are designed around the unique operational needs of manufacturers and are available in the cloud or on premises. Customers can better manage complexity and focus on core growth activities.

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