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A Winning Strategy

“We are an independent business going up against huge national chains, so we have to leverage technology to stay competitive. Epicor has helped us tremendously with that,” acknowledged Sean Scully, Vice President of Operations at Eikenhout, Inc.

Eikenhout has created and sustained a competitive edge for more than 128 years, growing from a modest roofing supply company to become a highly reputable distributor of building supplies with 10 locations across Michigan.
During the past two decades, the triad of Scully, Joel Gritter, Vice President of Finance, and Kyle Hillard, Director of IT, have played a prominent role in carving out those advantages through the strategic deployment of technology, especially Epicor BisTrack, Epicor Warehouse Management (WMS) and Epicor Data Analytics (EDA).

Gritter recalled, “When we were doing our due diligence about how to move forward with an ERP solution, it became very clear that Epicor was the right choice. This was especially important because we wanted a core system without the need to manage a stable of add-on third-party products, plus Epicor helped to offer an integrated e-commerce option.”

Inventory Goals

Epicor WMS helped provide Eikenhout with a modern, highly visible, efficient inventory management system.

“Instead of physically walking paperwork out to the yard, we have the ability to schedule an order in Epicor BisTrack, and it automatically drops into the scanners, enabling multiple employees to immediately start pulling the order,” Hillard shared.

Scully adjoined, “It’s a big customer service win. Whether customers are in a store or on the phone, their perception is that the order is ready to go. So, in that respect, Epicor WMS is super valuable.”

We are an independent business going up against huge national chains, so we have to leverage technology to stay competitive. Epicor has helped us tremendously with that.

Accurate inventory is another important benefit, helping to deliver up-to-the-minute visibility to stock changes. Real-time cycle counts have eliminated the pain of annual physical counts. Gritter explained, “Our year-end physical inventories usually took place during the holiday period and required half-day to day-and-a-half shutdowns. Today, with Epicor, real-time cycle counts have eliminated that process.”

Epicor has also accelerated and streamlined training. Rather than needing to teach new staff what various materials look like and where they are stored, Epicor WMS helps in providing guidance and information to new team members, so once they know how to use the scanners, they are productive.

Data-Driven Efficiencies

Prior to Epicor, Eikenhout’s business intelligence capabilities were severely limited. Now, Epicor BisTrack integrates data sources, allowing the team to create reports to inform the business with insights ranging from low-demand products to sales data to potential geographic expansion opportunities.

For instance, the process for managing customer credit changes has dramatically improved, enabling the company to cascade status updates throughout the pipeline, saving time and money. Gritter observed, “Prior to our new process, if a customer went on hold, several more orders could still be dispatched before the hold caught up with scheduling. By halting orders immediately, we’ve reduced the amount that we may potentially have to write off and eliminated the resources required to track those orders down and get paid for them.”

Our year-end physical inventories usually took place during the holiday period and required half-day to day-and-a-half shutdowns. Today, with Epicor, real-time cycle counts have eliminated that process.

More recently, inflation caused a surge in decisions around credit and created a bottleneck in AR. A new Epicor BisTrack-fed report gave the Eikenhout team the power to install a new process to curb credit code releases by 80%. “With Epicor, we have significantly better controls with a lot less time required to manage them,” Hillard remarked.

Similarly, customer rebate tracking has improved significantly. Epicor BisTrack permits rebate accruing to happen at the time of the sale. Gritter said, “We get an accurate number in the financial statements each and every month, expensing rebates as we go, instead of the previous model of absorbing a single big hit at the end of the year.”

A Trusted System

The Smart Click functionality of Epicor BisTrack allows users to create customized actions for their data and has been a game-changer at Eikenhout. Scully elaborated, “Smart Clicks are an awesome feature of BisTrack and one that I’ve never seen in any other platform. The ability to make a global change in minutes versus a manual, painstaking process saves us days’ worth of time.”

With Epicor, we have significantly better controls with a lot less time required to manage them.

Epicor BisTrack has also generated confidence among the Eikenhout sales team that the back end works smoothly, and they will be getting the proper credit for their sales. In fact, the sales team receives dashboards that present daily sales, month-to-date sales, and year-to-date budget progress. Regional managers can easily view performance by salesperson and by branch. Hillard noted, “That automated reporting has saved the sales administration department more than an hour each day because they do not have to create those reports and email them.”

Aggressive Objectives and Future Plans

Gritter, Hillard, and Scully have ambitions to expand their competitive advantages with the help of Epicor Solutions, including creating an Epicor BisTrack-enabled e-commerce channel and an AP automation initiative to enhance vendor experiences to drive better pricing and improved profit margins.

The team is confident that the partnership with Epicor will continue to yield impressive results. Scully emphasized, “From our earliest days with Epicor, even though we are likely a smaller customer, we’ve always had the opportunity to be involved in software development. We’ve been a beta customer, helping to improve the solution for us and all Epicor customers. And on the other side, we provide Epicor WMS tours of our sites and act as an Epicor reference customer.”

“There is a distinct willingness at Epicor to partner with customers for positive change.”

Company Facts

  • Headquarters: Grand Rapids, MI
  • Specialist Industry: Building Materials
  • Website:  eikenhout.com

Challenges

  • Inefficient manual processes
  • Lack of visibility to inventory and data
  • Rebate and credit procedures lacked sophistication

Benefits

  • Automated, streamlined processes accelerate the pace of business
  • Robust business intelligence capabilities inform decision-making
  • 80% decrease in credit code releases

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