Recap: Inforum 2008
DE customers enjoyed an informational and fun filled three day experience at Inforum 2008. Read on to discover what they learned.
Adam Fein's Take on the State of the U.S. Economy
Check out industry expert Dr. Adam J. Fein's recent analysis of the economy on his blog.
Jammin' with Grant
Operational Excellence in Challenging Times: Being the Distributor of Choice
Join DE and Grant Howard for the third installment of Jammin' with Grant in January 2009. Specific date information to follow.
TUG 2009 U2U
Join fellow SX.e users at TUG 2009 U2U in Colorado Springs.
Date: March 11-13, 2008
Where: The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO
|Grant Howard in Toronto
Grant presented "Building the Bridges to Excellence," an information packed session to numerous Canadian SX.e users in mid-November. The two day event is like a super-sized Jammin' with Grant session complete with front row seats. Stay tuned for news on Grant's next stops.
Here's what some of the attendees had to say:
Grant is such a dynamic presenter and all can see the passion that he presents into his knowledge of the product and Distribution in General. -John Mayo, Executive at RotoPRECISION, RotoPRECISION
Group Laurier (DE's Canadian Partner) has always been more than a software provider to Dorfin; you have been a valued partner, consultant, and educator of industry best practices. Grant's seminar was extremely timely and beneficial given the challenging economy. The information will be well utilized by us as we plan to meet with our team and share what we learned and implement many of the processes and strategies that he discussed. I appreciate the opportunity to attend these "best practice" workshops, and I encourage you to continue offering them.
-Beryl Aranoff, Admin, Technology and Quality Manager, Dorfin
|SX.e Users Play Jeopardy
quarter, we will pose an SX.e related jeopardy question. The first
respondent to answer correctly will win a prize and be featured in the next issue of our newsletter.
Please e-mail responses to
What are the four components of the EOQ calculation and where are they found in SX?
|Summer 2008 SX.e Jeopardy Winner
Congratulations to last quarter's winner, Lynne Corwin, from Phillips Plywood. Lynne is now a proud owner of DE's signature "I'm too SX.e for my mug" mug.
|Summer 2008 Question and Answer:
Q: How can the order terms type be added to the banner on the Order Entry screen?
OEET, select File and Options from the toolbar. On the banner tab,
check the box next to terms and click save. On the worksheet, move the
terms box into the layout and click display. If you are satisfied with
the layout, click OK. If not, click design and continue until
satisfied. When completed, click OK on the Options window then click
OK to the pop-up box "settings will apply with operator's new session."
Interested in sharing your success story? E-mail us at OntheEDGE@DistributorsEDGE.com.
Heading to an Autumn party and don't know what to bring? Impress the host with this moist and delicious pumpkin cake.
1 2/3 c granulated sugar
1 c vegetable oil
15 ounce can pumpkin
2 c sifted all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
8 ounce softened cream cheese
1/2 c softened butter
2 c sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs,
sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour,
baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients
to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined
and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by
10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before
frosting. Cut into 24 bars.
To make the frosting: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a
medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix
at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread
on cooled pumpkin bars.
|On the EDGE
Autumn 2008, Volume 1, Issue 3
Welcome to our third issue of On the EDGE. We hope you have been enjoying our newsletter.
Spooky scarecrows returned to their storage boxes, and snowmen are invading the malls. Where does the time go? Hopefully you have been able to enjoy the fall, whether that means admiring the brilliant foliage, watching football, or jump-starting your holiday shopping. Not yet into the holiday hoopla? Check out Office Max's Elf Yourself e-card studio (Disclaimer: DE does not typically advise web surfing during office hours, but this is really cool).
Maybe you escaped with us to Vegas for a little fall fun; maybe you couldn't make it this year. Fortunately, for those who didn't make it, we don't adhere to Vegas' infamous tagline-- What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas-and we review all that you missed below.
One of Inforum's Keynote speakers and a wholesale distribution expert, Dr. Adam J. Fein, has been discussing the economy, past, present, and future, recently in his blog. Below, be sure to read one of his recent posts and continue reading on his website.
Continue reading as we recap our second complimentary Jammin' with Grant session -- on October 2, Grant Howard discussed Inventory Management and its importance in being the Distributor of Choice. Stay tuned for more details about Grant's next Jam Session coming up in January 2009.
Texas A&M will be hosting an educational program about Pricing Optimization on the university campus in January. Read their most recent article about pricing optimization below.
In this issue, learn how Vesco Oil, one of Michigan's top privately held companies, has successfully adapted to and utilized SX.e over the last four years via their strong partnership with DE's Great Lakes partner, CDS.
We are excited to present the new and improved DE website. Visit www.DistributorsEDGE.com to view our new site. On our new site, we will be able to provide you up to date industry news, inform you of upcoming events, and offer you a wide range of educational materials, including white papers. Be sure to register to the site so you don't miss anything.
Enjoy the holiday season. We look forward to hosting you in January for the next Jammin' with Grant. And don't forget, TUG may seem far off, but it is really just around the corner. Check out www.Kayak.com for easy comparison of airline fares.
The DE Team
|Recapping Inforum 2008|
Inforum has grown significantly over the years, and this year proved no different. Thousands fled to Vegas to learn more about SX.enterprise and Infor's future plans for your ERP solution.
Before Inforum, we listed the Top 10 Reasons to Attend Inforum 2008, so now, here's the Top 10 Reasons Inforum 2008 Rocked.
10. Location! Location! Location!
Inforum 2008 was hosted in Las Vegas, America's Playground, at the Sands Expo. During the day, we worked hard, and at night, we played hard(er). Some attendees stayed at the Venetian, others at Treasure Island, and still more at one of the other fabulously themed monstrosities Vegas offers. We did learn however, that even amongst obviously outrageous, but perfectly placed tourist traps like New York, New York's twisty rollercoaster and the Luxor's Egyptian pyramid, there is no "Hotel California" to be found. John Cougar had to cancel, so the Eagles' Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh stepped in on Wednesday evening. Even without "Hotel California," they were a huge hit!
9. Let's Do Lunch and Breakfast and Dinner
During each meal, Inforum guests were easily able to spot and network with fellow users. Everything in Vegas seems to be bigger and better, and the signage at Inforum was no different. Infor sectioned areas of both the dining room and hall for specific groups, and distributors had their own nook in which to easily network with fellow users. Among the distribution section, attendees could chat at The User Group's booth, speak with epaCube representatives, and learn more about Progress' SOA. DE customer Phyllis Yen of Coaster Company of America noticed the difference this year, saying "Inforum 2008 was more organized, and I noticed they really wanted to put similar system users together in any chance they could."
8. Klever Keynotes
Industry expert Dr. Adam J. Fein kicked off Inforum with an insightful look at the economy and its effect on our industry. DE customer Suzanne Lomas of R.M. Wright Co. found Fein's session to be the most valuable. For more from Dr. Fein, please visit his blog.
Infor CEO Jim Schaper stole back the spotlight when he opened his keynote, "Connecting to the Future," by conducting the Vegas Phil Harmonic. Schaper discussed looking to the future and preparing for the road ahead.
7. Mad About Distribution
Infor responded to your feedback and really focused on singling out distribution. Distribution centric sessions were centrally located, and there were many valuable classes. Grant Howard's Best Practices in Inventory Management" was a hit, and TUG's "Infor ERP SX.enterprise" was also a favorite. SX.e user Jeff Pinney of Ohio Transmission and Pump Company (OTP) found scheduling to be significantly easier in terms of trying to find classes.
6. Favorite Session #1: Best Practices in Inventory Management
Distribution expert Grant Howard discussed concepts, ideas, tools, and techniques that allow distributors to maximize service, return, and efficiency from their inventory and inventory management program. Big picture-better profits, better service, better company.
5. Favorite Session #2: Infor ERP SX.enterprise
Theusergroup.org (TUG), an independent software user group serving the owners of distribution software sold by Infor including SX.e, introduced itself to current and prospective members. TUG affords numerous networking opportunities and a forum for members to exchange ideas.
4. Favorite Session #3: Infor ERP SX.enterprise Product Direction
Attendees were given an in-depth look at the current direction of Infor ERP SX.e, and they were able to discover the planned enhancements. SX.e user Phyllis Yen really enjoyed learning about the future of SX.e.
3. Infor MyDay
Infor's Vice President of Project Management Jeff Ralyea introduced Infor MyDay, a contextualized role based homepage, after Schaper's keynote. Infor MyDay sits on top of Infor Decisions and employs the Infor Open SOA platform and selected performance management components. Together, this creates an actionable, single sign-on view of key performance indicators and tasks for an individual's role.
SX.e user Braden Green of Tenaquip, who has attended numerous Inforums, found that Infor has responded to their attendees feedback, saying, "The overall messages coming from the top people at Infor seemed to contain a lot more about what customers have talked about in the last year. It sounded like they had actually been listening to customers over the last year"
2. DE Customer Reception
Over 75 DE customers joined DE employees, Infor Execs, and other industry associates like Progress' Daena Lepore for a DE Customer Reception. Desserts were devoured, SX.e experiences were shared, and good times were had by all. SX.e user Dennis Weatherman of Lane Automotive appreciated the "multiple opportunities to meet and greet other distributors" the most.
DE will be hosting another event at TUG 2009 U2U, so stay tuned for more details.
1. DE Signature Mug
All DE Customer Reception guests received DE's new signature mug. The mugs' tagline made them a huge hit. For your own "I'm too SX.e for my mug" mug, submit a response to our SX.e jeopardy question below.
Whether you joined us in Vegas or not, we hope to see you in March at TUG 2009 U2U!
|Contact OntheEdge@DistributorsEDGE.com with any questions.|
|Adam Fein's Take on the State of the U.S. Economy
By Adam J. Fein
Last week's report on third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) confirmed what many wholesaler-distributors are feeling - economic growth was anemic. As the Wall Street Journal noted, these data will affect the the policy options available to our new President. See Data Stoke Campaign Battle Over Economy.
The media focused on the headline GDP number, but there is some good news for wholesaler-distributors and their suppliers buried in the underlying components of GDP.
Click here to continue reading Monday November 3's post.
Note: This article is reprinted with permission from Dr. Adam J. Fein.
Recap: Jammin' with Grant
Grant Howard is an internationally recognized expert and major contributor in the design and implementation of "Best Practices" Inventory Management and Replenishment Systems, Operational Excellence, and Systems Utilization. He has multiple company experience in inventory management, purchasing design, operations, problem solving, procedure preparation, and systems administration. Mr. Howard has assisted a number of multiple branch distributors and distribution software houses in the design, education, and implementation of procedures, software packages, and the use of current technology concentrating on inventory management, replenishment, operational efficiency, and system utilization, which result in fantastic customer service, bottom line, and growth improvements.
On Wednesday October 2, 2008, distribution expert Grant Howard hosted Distributor's EDGE customers for an hour-long webinar. Entitled "Best Practices Inventory Management in Challenging Times: Being the Distributor of Choice," the complimentary session was the second in a four part series to run quarterly. The next session, which will focus on Operational Excellence, is scheduled to air in January. Stay tuned for more details.
This session was perfect if your company wants to achieve maximum potential from your inventory and your inventory management team, deliver stellar customer service and fantastic fill rates, and achieve improved profits and turns on your inventory investment.
During his presentation, Grant discussed the concepts, ideas, tools, and techniques that allow a distributor to maximize service, return, and efficiency from the inventory and inventory management program. These proven best practice techniques bring improved efficiency, time management and priority setting, as well as help drive service and profit to the next level. Big picture-better profits, better service, better company.
DE Customer Reviews:
"I was so glad to have joined. He does an amazing job!" - Jeannine Sherman, Prismsoft
"I just wanted to also comment that the presentation was very interesting, informative, and extremely well done! A big thank you to you and Grant!" - Cameron Bow, East West Plastic
Did you miss Jammin' with Grant, Part 1 or 2? Visit the site to listen to the presentations.
Pricing for Profitability
By Lindsey Young
Implementing an effective pricing strategy can be one of the best ways to achieve better gross margin. This article outlines a pricing model developed by Texas A&M University's Supply Chain Systems Laboratory and provides a look at how some distributors are using it to update their pricing strategy.
About three years ago, F.W. Webb, a regional distributor of plumbing, heating, cooling, and piping products, took a part of its legacy IT system and dedicated it to improving the customer and product information available to salespeople.
"About a third of our prices were being set manually by salespeople," says Lawrence Mohr, the distributor's now retired senior vice president of information technology. "We needed a way to provide information to inside sales so they could make a better pricing decision in a 10-second time frame."
The distributor became involved with a Texas A&M University consortium focused on pricing and profitability. As a result of that project, the Bedford, MA based F.W. Webb decided to move forward with a model created by researchers in A&M's Supply Chain Systems Laboratory based on two years of work with consortium members.
The result, Mohr says, was a program that uses variables already in F.W. Webb's system, such as actual sales and profitability of a customer. "Our system says this is the classification for the customer for this product, and here is the recommended price." It is broader and more mathematical than models F.W. Webb has used in the past, Mohr says.
"The model is not designed to replace the salesperson," says A&M researcher Pradip Krishnadevarajan. "It is designed to provide the required information in a concise manner so the user doesn't have to go back and look at several different screens. There is no time to do that. The system is the science. And the user brings in the art to make an effective pricing decision."
Click here to continue reading.
Note: This article is reprinted with permission from Texas A&M.
|Vesco Oil: A Driving Force in
Over the past 60 years, Michigan-based Vesco Oil has repeatedly lapped the competition, becoming one of the nation's leading distributors of finished oil and petroleum products. For decades, Vesco has provided their automotive and industrial customers the finest service and most advanced products to rev unparalleled growth in the companies they supply, driving Vesco's customer satisfaction to record highs.
In 1947, Eugene Epstein, who would later chauffeur the expansion of the lubricant industry, ignited a business that, to this day, remains a family-owned and operated company. Over 200 employees, only some Epsteins but all considered family, contribute to Vesco's continued deliverance of great service and solid products. Epstein's son, Richard, expanded product offerings to include branded automotive and industrial lubricants, and after a few more acquisitions, Vesco led the pack of Mobil industrial and automotive lubricant distributors in Michigan and as a result, they became one of the country's largest Mobil industrial lubricant distributors. Currently under the guidance of Donald and Marjory Epstein, Vesco remains one of ExxonMobil's top distributors in North America, and since daughters Lena and Lilly have joined the team, all future growth has a green light.
Led by generations of the Epstein family's keen business sense, Vesco has achieved great success as an automotive and industrial lubricant distributor. While Lena Epstein, Vesco's Marketing Manager, and MIS Director Verna Leoni are careful to credit the Vesco family for the business's success, they do recognize their ERP solution, Infor's SX.enterprise, as assisting them along the way. SX.e has afforded Vesco the ability to shift their processes from reactionary to strategic. Additionally, Epstein credits Leoni as assuming the role of the pit crew chief, the driving force behind successfully implementing a new solution.
Vesco Oil Selects SX.enterprise as Their New Distribution Solution
After struggling to upgrade their old system, which they had modified beyond recognition, Vesco began searching for a new distribution solution in early 2004. While WDS-II, their old solution, was functional at the time, the product simply had no future at Vesco, a continually expanding company. In addition, Vesco required a technology partner who offered local support and national backing. Having teamed with CDS, a founding member and active participant in Distributor's EDGE, in the past to complete networking projects, Vesco turned to CDS in search of an appropriate solution.
Vesco explored Infor's SX.enterprise as an option while also investigating other options. Vesco quickly learned that SX.e offers all that they were seeking in a product. Specifically, as compared to other products on the market, SX.e offers more functionality within distribution, including order entry, certain modifications for their business with a guarantee to still enable upgrades, and conversion programs. Equally as important, CDS provides the local support with Infor as their national backup.
Leoni pegs Vesco as a difficult sell; she outright claims, "We are not an easy sale." In order to make the best investment, Vesco involved team members from all five warehouses within numerous departments, including Accounts Payable and Receivable, Inventory Control, and even sales, in the buying process. After several meetings, demos, and Q&A sessions, Vesco selected SX.e as their solution and CDS as their partner.
Once the decision was made, implementation and training raced into overdrive. After four levels of training, which involved training CDs, test systems, and classes at CDS's facility, Vesco went live on SX.e in January 2005. Four months later, Vesco employees had forgotten the old system.
From Defensive Driving to Offensively Driving Changes
Determined to maintain a prominent position in the lubricant industry, Vesco is constantly seeking growth opportunities and new revenue venues. In doing so, Vesco, more than just a distributor, needs to react quickly, so by extension, Vesco prefers a strong, easily accessible technology partner. Therefore, Vesco's engines can warm quickly when necessary. Working with CDS, Leoni knows she can promptly reach her tech partner, saying, "I work with CDS's project manager on a weekly basis, but if we needed to call them on a daily basis, we would. And they would take that call." Vesco's close relationship with CDS, paired with SX.e's flexibility, enables them to react rapidly and continuously grow.
CDS is Vesco's hardware and software support, and Vesco believes this dual relationship simplifies their tech needs, saying "It is easier to be with a company who is both your hardware and software support so that when there's a problem within the system they have a better ability to troubleshoot." CDS supports Vesco's entire network, not just SX.e. Therefore, the new processes have better aligned Vesco's IT with the overall goals of the company, and now, IT is driving changes instead of responding to them.
Preparing to celebrate their fourth year on SX.e, Vesco has had a very successful run with the solution, and given the ease of upgrades, they will continue to celebrate many more anniversaries. However, the first year was challenging.
While the sales team was involved in the buying process, they were out of the loop during implementation, and other team members were struggling to pinpoint the information they needed within the reports. Therefore, Vesco's employees, who just eight months prior, had forgotten the old system, returned to comparing the two. Avoiding the easy path-Vesco knew they could manipulate SX.e to behave exactly like their old system given the systems versatility- Vesco set out to capitalize on SX.e, a software investment in which they believed.
Reactionary at the time, but navigating towards a strategic level, Vesco formed IT Focus Groups to facilitate the transition. The groups agreed on what they needed from SX.e, and then, they discovered how to attain that info or execute necessary actions. Quickly, the questions in the meetings shifted from reactionary to strategic in nature, and Vesco employees officially graduated from the old system. Another key indicator: initially, inventory levels rose on the new system, but now fill rates are at 97.5, and each month, Vesco makes or exceeds this rate at each location.
Once Vesco's focus shifted to strategy, they were able to fully capitalize on SX.e. Vesco sales reps now use PDA order entry, and they have access to a mini-warehouse where they can invoice and sell from a truck. Plus, they can use EDI with many of their large vendors, and the automation draws and compiles data from multiple sources.
More than anything, Vesco is well positioned for new versions down the road, and they feel comfortable that an upgrade path is available. Epstein comments, "I don't know how you can quantify something like having an available upgrade pack, but there's such a cost to the company to not have that option. There's such a risk there." With SX.e, Vesco has the ability to modify the system without fear of drifting too far. In fact, contrary to many of CDS's clients, Vesco employs Dana Tremblay, a software developer who uses architect to slightly modify SX.e while still maintaining the SX.e solution. In addition, CDS is available to assist with modifications.
CDS's implementation program and the IT Focus Groups, who still meet every six weeks, encouraged Vesco's employees to examine their daily tasks, study their processes, and work more efficiently. In doing so, employees have taken more ownership of their job. Since the SX.e system allows them to function just as well, if not better, with fewer people, Vesco has not had the need to replace any employee who has departed. Regardless of company size, communication is very important, and Verna describes the communication SX.e facilitates as "kinda fun" and something she never dreamed of having the ability to do. SX.e allows users to email reports directly from SX.e, which Vesco feels is a very helpful function. Additionally, since SX.e is Windows based, users often export lists into Excel spreadsheets for analysis.
Vesco Oil and CDS
Moving forward, Vesco plans to continually stay ahead of new technology, allowing the company to continue to plan strategically versus respond defensively. In a few months, Vesco plans to upgrade their system, and their specific hope is that TWL upgrades will increase their efficiency. In addition, they anticipate more virtualization of their servers. As Vesco continues to grow, their "very good" relationship with CDS will continue. Epstein appreciates that CDS is family-owned, like her own company, and she thinks the CDS family is terrific and well versed in distribution. Further, Vesco welcomes CDS's proactive nature and efforts to update and educate Vesco. Asked what they would say to a peer who is considering partnering with CDS, Leoni simply says, "We have recommended CDS and SX.e to other distributors, and I think that speaks for itself."
For more information on Vesco Oil, visit www.Vesco-Oil.com.