One of the largest surplus, used and refurbished electrical equipment dealers in the U.S., Electric Motor Supply Company (EMSCO), is a family owned business started in 1948. With a 250,000 square foot warehouse and 16 miles of bus way, the company is able to keep most brands and styles of a variety of industrial electrical equipment right under their roof. Located just outside of Minneapolis in Fridley, Minnesota, EMSCO stocks thousands of bus plugs, transformers, circuit breakers, motor control centers, medium voltage gear, electric motors and many different sizes of switchgear.
A Disconnect with Software Vendor
For over 50 years, EMSCO has been buying and selling new, used and reconditioned electrical equipment. As a family business with very little staff turnover, much of the ever changing electrical supply inventory information was held by the individuals in the organization. The company had implemented Microsoft Dynamics NAV years ago to manage the accounting functions of the business. However, as time went by, they wanted to accomplish more in NAV than they were currently able to do. This included a desire to get the inventory information out of everyone’s heads and into an inventory management solution.
According to Joe Faust, Sales and IT manager of EMSCO, “We were getting a lot of system errors and the daily functionality we needed wasn’t there for us. The vendor we had worked with to install NAV years before wasn’t able to give us the support we needed to make NAV work the way we needed it to.” Joe expanded, “In fact, we had decided to look for a new vendor and new software, as we didn’t know if NAV could accomplish what we needed.”
EMSCO started looking for a new vendor; specifically one that offered multiple product lines, was local, and who had expertise in the distribution industry. “We wanted someone who could offer us solutions for our issues, not just sell us new software,” stated Joe. “It was important that they understood distribution and could easily grasp our unusual inventory situation.” After looking at several vendors, Business Automation Specialists of Minnesota (BASM) became the clear choice.
Switching Gears Saves EMSCO from Complex and Costly System Change
“When EMSCO came to us, they thought that NAV might not be the right solution for them anymore,” recalled Ryan Ketterling, Sales Manager at BASM. “After our in-depth needs analysis, we identified that NAV would work for them and was indeed the best solution. EMSCO simply hadn’t been instructed on how to best use the system and they needed an upgrade to the latest version, with a few changes, to make it work the way the company needed it to work.”
Melissa Reichenbacher, Project Manager at BASM added, “By avoiding a major system conversion, EMSCO saved significant time and conversion costs. Upgrading allowed for a simple data conversion, and the staff didn’t have to spend time in extensive retraining.”
According to Ron Ketterling, President at BASM, “By upgrading, EMSCO was able to take advantage of new functionality in the latest version of NAV. This provided them the fastest uptime at the lowest cost, and reduced the complexity and pain often associated with changing systems. It was the easiest option for the staff as they didn’t lose their NAV knowledge.”
EMSCO’s System and Processes Transformed
With the upgraded version of NAV in place, and with the expert guidance of BASM, EMSCO finally had the functionality they had been lacking for so long. In fact, BASM did more than was planned. Because EMSCO had problems with their system due to the way it was initially set up by the previous reseller, they had developed work-a-rounds for these issues. During the course of the implementation, BASM was able to identify and correct all the errors thus streamlining these previously tedious processes.
Joe at EMSCO states that, “Some of the changes we are thrilled to finally have in place, include our ability to issue a sales-tax-only credit memo; view the effective (total) tax rate of individual customers on invoice documents as well as on the customer screen; and the improved integration between UPS and NAV, which allows us to create tracking numbers within NAV and automatically track them on the UPS website.”
For items not shipped with UPS, EMSCO printed shipping labels. However, their old NAV system printed labels for all shippers, including UPS. This caused the staff to have to scroll through all labels looking for the correct one. Not only was this time consuming, but during the busy season with seasonal staff, this frequently created shipping errors. BASM was able to change this by implementing order scanning so only the scanned order labels printed. By streamlining this process, EMSCO eliminated irrelevant order labels, saving time for regular staff and eliminating errors with seasonal staff.
Joe continued, “We are especially happy with our new quoting process. EMSCO does thousands of quotes and we needed a way to determine if a particular item had been previously quoted to a particular customer. Many times we don’t have an item number, and we need to look by type or description. BASM created a process within NAV that now allows us to look up quotes by customer or by type and description. This is a huge time saver and helps us provide the best customer service.”
During the initial needs assessment, BASM also suggested implementing EZPDF to fax and or email invoices, statements, and quotes. Customers can indicate how they want to receive these documents and it can be done on an individual or batch basis. Faxing or e-mailing invoices, statements and quotes not only saves time, but also saves a tremendous amount of money on paper and postage.
“We started this process to simply resolve the day to day challenges we were having with our system. We needed to find a way to streamline our processes and to be as efficient as possible so we could ultimately manage our inventory better,” stated Joe. “Now we are at the point where we can explore warehouse automation. By adding part numbers to our entire inventory instead of relying on individuals’ knowledge, we will be able to manage our growth through the use of technology.”
Joe finished by stating that, “Working with BASM made everything so smooth. They spent a lot of time preparing to make sure NAV was the right system, and in making sure the conversion and subsequent processes were done as efficiently and with as little disruption to our business as possible. The conversion was done over a weekend, and we were back up and running by 11:00 a.m. that Monday. From our owner’s perspective it was all perfect, and that makes my job so much easier. The BASM team responds quickly, is easy to work with, and everyone on the team is truly an expert in their field and ours!