Distributor's EDGE
In This Issue
Attend 2009's Only Infor Distribution User Conference
Balancing Between Inventory Turns and Customer Service
Recap: Jammin' with Grant
Web Presence Will Take on Greater Importance for Wholesalers
Auburn Armature: A Glowing Electrical Distributor and Service Provider
Featured Article

Inventory Counts


Hear from Inventory Management Specialist Jason Bader about how to minimize inventory while mazimizing customer service.

Featured Article

Web Presence Increasingly More Important for Wholesalers

DE Website

Here from Business Management Specialist Rich Schmitt about the growing importance of web presence in the wholesale distributor community.

Featured Paper

Optimizing Distributor Profitability

Supply Chain Systems Library

Hear from Texas A&M distribution experts about optimizing profitability. Click here to read the complete white paper.

Featured Event


Register for TUG 2009 U2U

Join fellow SX.e users at TUG 2009 U2U in Colorado Springs.

Official Conference Dates: March 11-13, 2008

SIG Meeting Dates: March 9 & 10

Where: The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO

Scroll below to view our TUG Travel Tips.

Upcoming Events
January 29, 2009, 12 Noon EST:
Webinar: Infor Document Management Solution for Distributors

February 5, 2009, 12 Noon EST:
Webinar: TUG 2009 U2U Conference Preview

February 10, 2009, 12 Noon EST: Webinar: Solutions for Smarter, Simpler Shipping Execution for Distributors

March 9 & 10:
SIG Meetings
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

March 11-13, 2009:
TUG 2009 U2U
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Free 2009 Economic Forecast Report

Steels Industrial

Check out industry expert  Dr. Adam J. Fein's most recent blog post where he offers his 2009 Economic Forecast for Wholesale Distribution for free.

DE Client Presenting at TUG

Coaster Company of America

SX.e user Coaster Company of America's Wesley Jacobsen, Systems/Network Admin & I.S. Manager, will be presenting at TUG. Coaster, a furniture distributor, implemented SX.e in 2001, and soon after, Wesley, who has been in IT and Systems Administration for over 30 years, joined the Coaster team. Wesley, a Cal State Fullerton grad, has enjoyed working for an Asian owned company as he has had the privilege of traveling abroad quite often.

Wesley will present a session on Webmin, a canned and downloadable, out of the box web application written in perl and customizable to your UNIX environment. This web tool helps system administrators quickly and seamlessly manage mail server functions (i.e. aliases, blacklist, monitor mail queue, etc.), UNIX and Webmin user IDs, UNIX cronjobs, the UNIX boot startup sequence, and more.

Join Wesley on Wednesday March 11, 2009 at 2:30 PM to learn more about Webmin.

TUG Travel Tips

Flight Deals:
Visit Kayak where you can compare rates from several different travel websites.

Southwest is offering major sales into Denver right now.

Please note: The Colorado Springs Airport is 10 miles from the hotel while the Denver Airport is about a 90 minute drive. However, flights into Denver tend to be less expensive.

Discounted Hotel Rates:
The Broadmoor:
Avg. Rate $199/night (Rate only guarenteed until Feb. 9)
Overnight valet parking is $16/night. Overnight self parking is $14/night. Visitor day valet parking is complimentary.
Note: Stay at The Boradmoor and save $100 on your TUG registration fee.

Rental Cars:
Visit the Hertz site for rental cars.
 Reminder: The Broadmoor charges $16 per day for overnight valet. Self parking is $14 per day. Many other area hotels include parking.

Traveling with a Companion:
Check out TUG's special Companion Program.

TUG's Best Breakout Sessions

Wednesday March 11:
10:30 AM: User Led Purchasing Roundtable

4:15 PM: 7 Deadly Security Sins of IT with Bluenotch's Jim Shewmaker

Thursday March 12:
9:10 AM: Creating and Maintaining a Successful Web Presence with Sunshine Lighting's Hillel Zafir

2:00 PM: Best Practices Inventory Management in Challenging Times with Grant Howard

Friday March 13:
8:00 AM: A Look at SX.e V6.0 with Infor's Sally Main

3:00 PM: SOA for Dummies with Infor's Eric Ryerson

For more information on these breakout sessions and more, check out the official TUG 2009 schedule.

SX.e Users Play Jeopardy... Please

We need to recruit more SX.e Jeopardy players. If we gather enough players, maybe we will even have an SX.e Jeopardy showdown at TUG!

The first respondent to answer this question correctly will win a prize and be featured in the next issue of our newsletter.

Please e-mail responses to

If pick tickets are printing on Saturdays, what is the most likely culprit?

Bonus Challenge-- Stump Your Fellow Users:
Send us your own question and answer for next quarter's SX.e Jeopardy, and if we select your challenge, you will win a prize.

Stump your fellow users, and you will win a bonus prize!!

Good Luck!

Autumn 2008 SX.e Jeopardy Winner

Congratulations to last quarter's winner, Rose Diaz, from White River Hardwoods. Rose should now be a proud owner of DE's signature "I'm too SX.e for my mug" mug, but it seems the mail carrier doesn't like our mugs because they continue breaking in transit. Rose, we will get you a mug somehow!

DE Mug

Summer 2008 Question and Answer:
Q: What are the four components of the EOQ calculation and where are they found in SX?

A: The 4 components of the EOQ calculation are:
1. The cost of ordering (R)
2. The Usage Rate
3. The cost of carrying inventory (K)
4. The Unit Cost 

The cost of ordering and the cost of carrying inventory can both be found on the IC Setup Warehouse Descriptions record.

The Usage Rate and the Unit Cost can both be found on the IC Setup Warehouse Product record.

Auburn Armature

Auburn Armature
Auburn Armature

Auburn Armature

Auburn Armature

Auburn Armature

Auburn Armature

Interested in sharing your success story? E-mail us at OntheEDGE@DistributorsEDGE.com.

Superbowl Chili Recipe

Hosting a Superbowl party but don't want to slave over the stove during the game? Make this chili hours before and cheer with your guests.

Superbowl Chili

1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds beef, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon pasilla chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 bottle dark beer
5 cups homemade chicken stock, or canned low-sodium or water
1 (16-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, drained and pureed
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper puree
1 tablespoon honey
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and saute until browned on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate and remove all but 3 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ancho powder, pasilla powder, and cumin and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the beer and cook until completely reduced. Return the beef to the pot, add the chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotle puree, and honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lime juice, and adjust seasonings.

Serve with toppings like sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, onions, and more.

Recipe taken from the Food Network.

On the EDGE
January 2009, Volume 2, Issue 1

Welcome to the fourth issue of On the EDGE.

A little over four weeks into the New Year, eggnog and fruitcake are distant memories, yet we are probably, on average, still a little over four pounds heavier than we were pre-Thanksgiving and therefore behind on the universal New Year's resolution. But Mardi Gras is just around the corner, so "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (translation: Let the good times roll).
More importantly, we are just slightly over five weeks away from TUG. That may seem like a long time, but really, it's not.  Sure, we'll witness our new President adapt to life on Pennsylvania Avenue, and we'll crown a new Super Bowl champ before then. But that only brings us just past Groundhog's Day, and you know how unreliable that little bugger can be. Besides, our East Coast friends can already predict what he will see, given their recent frigid temperatures. Then, cupid will shoot some arrows just before we observe President's Day. But times are about to be a changin', and we need to be prepared for anything. So even with all that in between now and TUG, we must start planning. To get the best travel deals, check out our TUG Travel Tips below.

It's not too late to start planning for success in the coming months. In this issue of On the EDGE, we recap Grant Howard's most recent Jammin' with Grant session, "Operational Excellence in Challenging Times: Being the Distributor of Choice." Grant will be at TUG in Colorado Springs, so don't miss out on another opportunity to hear him speak.

Also in this issue, read what Management Specialist Rich Schmitt says about the future importance of web presence in wholesale distribution. His colleague at The Wholesaler, Inventory Management Specialist Jason Bader, addresses the balance between inventory turns and customer service. Plus, check out another paper from Texas A&M, entitled "Optimizing Distributor Profitability."

Finally, learn how Auburn Armature, one of New York State's fastest growing electrical supply distributors, has successfully adapted to and utilized SX.e over the last several years via their strong partnership with DE's Northeast partner, NSA Computer Exchange Corp.

Enjoy the coming weeks. There's lots to do, but don't miss TUG. It will be great!

The DE Team

Distributor's EDGE Logo
Attend 2009's Only Infor Distribution User Conference

TUG 2009 U2U
"The User Group's mission is to be the community of Distribution Group users of Infor ERP products; to share the wealth of knowledge of other users; and to help direct and influence the future direction of the software platform."

Last year's TUG in Palm Springs was a huge success, and this year's TUG, to be held at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, is sure to surpass. After last year's TUG, Tenaquip's Chris Oliver had this to say when asked what TUG could do to improve for this year, "No changes are necessary. They know what they are doing."

TUG begins on Wednesday March 11 after two days of SIG meetings and runs for three days until Friday March 13. Over three jam packed days, TUG is offering more than 150 breakout sessions at this year's conference. Check out the TUG schedule to learn about some of the great general sessions, round table discussions, and SX.e specific product forums TUG will include. TUG facilitates a wonderful opportunity to network with fellow SX.e users. You can brainstorm about the current economic climate, discuss how to best tweak your system, and debate business best practices. Plus, you can caution fellow users against potential mistakes, and in turn, you may learn a few tricks as well.

The User Group also invites Infor's Product Management Team to attend TUG, so at TUG, you can have face to face discussions about your true concerns and needs as a user with those at Infor who make the big product development decisions. Infor will also conduct invaluable technical training in a hand-on lab. When asked what he enjoys most about TUG, The Electric Connections' Charlie Coles said, "The one on one access with Infor's people was a huge plus. I enjoyed learning specifically what is going on in development."

Plus, DE will be there. Stay tuned for more information on DE at TUG.

Visit the TUG site to register.

For discounted hotel rates at The Broadmoor, click here.

See below for more TUG Travel Tips.

Contact OntheEdge@DistributorsEDGE.com with any questions.
Balancing Between Inventory Turns and Customer Service

Inventory Management Specialist

As I sit here reviewing the economic turmoil of the last several months, I can't help but consider how my distribution clients are reacting to the news. Without a doubt, many are finding themselves very wary of borrowed money and are looking for ways to bring cash back into the organization. As I have mentioned in several articles, the biggest cash asset in a distributor's business is inventory. This appears to be the logical place to start shoring up the reserves. I definitely encourage our clients to look at prudent reductions in inventory. Most distributors hold at least 30% more inventory than necessary to keep up with current customer demands. It is the panic-based reductions that I want to caution distributors against.

Click here to continue reading.

Note: This article is reprinted with permission from The Wholesaler.
Recap: Jammin' with Grant
Operational Excellence in Challenging Times: Being the Distributor of Choice

Grant HowardGrant 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 January 21, 2009, distribution expert Grant Howard hosted Distributor's EDGE clients for an hour-long webinar. Entitled "Operational Excellence in Challenging Times: Being the Distributor of Choice," the complimentary session was the third in a four part series to run quarterly. The next session, "Order Entry Proficiency: The Voice of the Customer," is scheduled to air in April 2009. Stay tuned for more details.

All distributors procure, warehouse, and sell, and all distributors do so with the hope of profitability, growth, and longevity. How do you achieve those three goals? First, you must achieve Operational Excellence. In this webinar, Grant Howard compared Operational Excellence to serving up an ACE-Accuracy, Consistency, and Efficiency. But how do you attain the winning trio? The answer sounds a lot easier than it is: SPA, PET, and MOT.

SPA is about the scope, the plan, and the action, so the result of SPA is really quite similar to the results you feel after leaving one, only more gratifying. Your operations, and therefore you, are more cool, calm, and collected. It's as simple as it sounds. First, determine the scope of what you must accomplish. Second, outline a plan, using data, to achieve your goal. And third, put your plan into action.

How do you determine a plan? Don't forget to use your data because "If there is no measurement, then it is all hearsay." Failing to use data will result in frustration, cost, and disappointment. Your plan must involve PET: Processes, Education, and tools or technology. Some people, maybe even you, have relied on pure magic or the "Check and Recheck" method in the past, but magic isn't a realistic option, and "Check and Recheck" is too costly.

If you regulate your processes, there is less room for error. To develop your processes, define the events and collect the data. Then, draft a summary analysis before writing a detailed analysis report. Educate, don't train, your team when introducing new processes or improved technology. An educated team member can think on his own and problem solve, while a trained member can only respond to predicted problems. And finally, use the technology you have. How much of your technology are you really using? Could you be making better use of more of your technology? Do you still need to remove the yellow stickies?

Grant did not discuss MOT in great detail on this call, but MOT is Management, Objectives, and Team.

To achieve Operational Excellence, Grant lays out a plan. Just head to the SPA with your PET.

DE Customer Reviews:
"The webinars are very professionally done, the content is essential, and Grant is an excellent speaker who is very easy to listen to. Must See TV, well, computer monitor!"- Cameron Bow, Purchaser, East West Plastic

"In operations, we often don't have the luxury of time to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and hence improve.

I've followed a few of Grant's sessions and find them inspiring in that they allow me time and add perspective to reviewing what we can do better."- Kevin Bresson, Director Supply Chain Management, National Energy Equipment, Inc.

Did you miss Jammin' with Grant, Part 1, 2, or 3? Visit the site to listen to the presentations.
Web Presence Will Take on Greater Importance for Wholesalers

Business Management Specialist

As I have said in previous columns, most wholesalers' business is being conducted through traditional channels --   outside sales, inside sales and the counter. Most wholesalers have a very small percentage of their bu-siness flowing through their website and electronic order entry tools.

As we talk with wholesalers we still have not found a wholesaler who is electronically selling more than 12% of their total business to trade customers. I am sure that there are exceptions to this statement but, thus far, we have not had anyone provide verifiable numbers to us. That is the most we have encountered and the typical numbers we hear are below 5%. With all this said as background: I believe that today's wholesalers must have a viable web presence.

Click here to continue reading.

This article is reprinted with permission from The Wholesaler.

Auburn Armature: A Growing Electrical Distributor and Service Provider

Auburn Armature

Initially an electrical motor and industrial equipment service organization, Auburn Armature, who remains a service provider, is touted as the fastest growing electrical supply distributor in New York State. A multi-million dollar company, AAI's main facility is appropriately located in Auburn, but AAI serves customers within the longitudinal bounds of Buffalo and Albany and the lateral bounds of the Pennsylvanian and Canadian borders.

As equipment replacement became impractical, AAI's repertoire developed to include electrical supply distribution, offering items like electrical motors, gearboxes, and controls to their largest clients-- electrical contractors and original equipment manufacturers. After the expansion in 1998, AAI, now an electrical products distributor, a panel shop, and a service organization, beamed into a one-stop shop. Living their motto, "From Power to Process," AAI provides electrical products from the power pole to process equipment.

While AAI stocks a diverse range of products, they specialize in three specific areas: electrical wiring, cabling and fittings, power distribution equipment (i.e. load centers, switchgear, and transformers), and project lighting. According to Operations Manager Joe Fantasia, a 27 year AAI vet, the company is currently installing lighting for some of their territory's largest projects, including Syracuse's Destiny USA, hailed as the next Mall of America, and the Turning Stone Casino in Vernon, NY. AAI's apparatus and engineering services are their second and third most valuable offerings, behind electrical product sales.

Auburn Armature Selects SX.enterprise
At the end of the nineties, AAI planned for substantial growth in the coming century, which required adopting a lasting solution. At the time, AAI utilized FACTS as their ERP solution. FACTS was a good system in the beginning, but as one VAR went belly up, another's customer service dimmed. Having just relocated into a new facility, AAI wanted to address some issues with the job shop software, so misfortune combined with projected sales growth led to the need for a package that could mature with them over the next decade or so.

During the two-year exhaustive search, AAI evaluated Prophet 21, NxTrend, and more, doing their homework, observing demos, and attending general software selection seminars. In the end, their decision boiled down to two SX.e VARS, as SX.e was the solution they selected. NSA ultimately won the bid due to the following:

    1. Their longevity in the industry
    2. Their ability to easily work with AAI employees
    3. Their attitude and aptitude demonstrated during
    4. Their diverse service offerings and mods

Led by NSA, AAI implemented SX.e on June 1, 2001, only six months after initiating their partnership. NSA fulfilled AAI's first expectation: Fast implementation in preparation of a busy summer. Because of that, Fantasia, who recently hosted some NSA employees for dinner at his home, says, "NSA is a great VAR to deal with. They are very responsive to issues and fantastic to work with."

Great Expectations
Fantasia, who self proclaims AAI as a difficult customer, praises NSA for rising to the occasion. Entering the partnership, AAI expected fast implementation, and they got it. However, their wishes did not end there. AAI rightfully demanded quality training and economical modifications, arguably two never-ending expectations.

Computers were installed in February and tested in March-- AAI simultaneously replaced their green screens with PCs since SX.e encouraged a more electronic business; NSA was there every step of the way to build AAI's confidence in using their new systems. AAI adopted a Train the Trainer philosophy, appointing several members of their team as future SX.e experts. The plan: NSA would educate a select few, and in turn, those selected would train subgroups of fellow users. Then, NSA would return to answer questions that arose during training and solidify AAI's confidence in using SX.e. Fantasia recalls AAI's Go Live as smooth because NSA assisted them with data migration issues like balancing and matching; as a result of AAI's hard work and dedication, they were comfortable using SX.e very quickly. To date, Fantasia says all expectations have been met and exceeded.

Instant Gratification
From a transactional perspective, AAI noticed SX.e's positive impact nearly immediately. Processes were more efficient, involving less paper and less interruption. In fact, SX.e, which allowed for easier contact tracking, simplified the entire sales cycle. Even in the absence of a salesman, other AAI personnel could easily assist customers, delivering better continuity to the customer base. SX.e produced new reports to encourage easy sales analysis, making profitability of various product sectors clearer.

With the installation of PCs, AAI employees garnered more connectivity via email, and users were more efficient from their desks as they did not need to hike to the warehouse to check inventory. For example, users could monitor backorders in the system, making the backorder process more efficient.

Generating Growth
AAI's business has grown nearly 571% since implementing SX.e with nominal personnel increases because SX.e has enabled AAI to extract stronger results from the same people. AAI's inventory has increased dramatically due to SX.e's Pricing Matrix and their position in the market. These cyclical increases permit AAI to sell more because they stock more and stock more because they sell more. The inventory turns rapidly as it consists of mostly A and B items. Plus, the profit margin for C and D items has increased due to the SX.e system. With more competitive pricing strategies, AAI's customer service has increased. The catalog allows AAI to verify prices and descriptions online. Plus, orders are more accurate so the purchase orders match the invoices. AAI is now seeing very positive results with improved margins.

Due to SX.enterprise, AAI's purchasing processes have noticeably improved. With just one click, AAI can review history, pricing, warehouse stocking, and more. Thus, they engage in better-informed, faster discussions. Inventory has improved from a purchasing process standpoint as well.

Moving forward, AAI plans to implement EDI and the Job Management module because they require strong job management capabilities for lighting and switchgear. With NSA's assistance, AAI updated their internal network this past summer, so now AAI plans to upgrade to a more powerful server and the latest version of SX.e. These upgrades coincide with AAI's newest branch, opening in Albany in winter 2009. AAI appreciates NSA's one-stop shop capabilities with SX.e, network software, and hardware. When an IT problem caused by a former AAI employee was discovered, NSA was able to solve the problem due to their expansive knowledge base. Since AAI's IT team consists of only one person, they rely heavily on NSA. As they move forward and continue to dominate the electric market, AAI looks forward to their continued relationship with NSA.

AAI believes in efficiency; they work at over 100% with good, quality people, and with technology's aid, they have been very successful. Fantasia says he expects problems when using technology, but he values NSA's ability to alleviate and fix problems, as they have in every opportunity. Fantasia considers AAI's relationship with NSA as "very positive, very open both ways." He says, "They are a pleasure to work with. They are very responsive, and they are good people." Further, he warns his peers who are in search of a new system, "If you don't call NSA and look at the benefit of using SX.e, you are doing yourself a grave injustice."

For more information on Auburn Armature, visit www.AAINY.com.