Success Story: The Supply Room Companies
ECi Functions as “an Extension of Our IT Department”
Business these days may be challenging at best but you wouldn’t know it looking at what Jeff Schroeder and the team at The Supply Room Companies in Ashland, Virginia, have done over the past few years.
Driven primarily by an aggressive program of strategic acquisitions, the dealership has seen its payroll expand to more than 200 from 145 in just three years. In addition, it has added new growth categories such as coffee and breakroom products and managed print services (MPS). It has also extended market coverage from its traditional Virginia and North Carolina base into Maryland and Washington, DC.
Managing growth on that scale would be a challenge for any organization but, fortunately, says Senior Vice President of Operations and Technology, Jeff Schroeder, The Supply Room runs its business on the DDMS system from ECi Software Solutions and it has proven more than equal to the task.
“From a software solutions standpoint, I need an extension of my IT department and that’s how I consider the partnership I have with ECi,” says Schroeder.
The Supply Room Companies has been a DDMS house for more than 20 years but, he explains, the dealership’s use of ECi technology has increased dramatically during the company’s recent expansion.
“We’ve grown tremendously in the last five years, largely as a result of the different solutions we’ve acquired from ECi and the software changes that have been made,” Schroeder reports. “It’s just nice to have somebody you can call and talk to who not only understands the software but also understands your dealership and its priorities.”
As a company grows, technology needs evolve
Not surprisingly, The Supply Room’s dramatic expansion has raised some major technology-related issues along the way.
Last year, for example, when the dealership acquired the Frank Parsons Paper Co., a major paper distributor in the Baltimore area, it forced Schroeder and his team to make a critical decision about the future direction of their technology investment.
Frank Parsons had been running their business on the MBS-Dev platform and that meant Schroeder had to decide between either bringing them in under the DDMS umbrella or switching the rest of the company to MBS-Dev.
“As it turned out, staying with DDMS instead of switching to MBS-Dev wasn’t really that difficult a call to make,” he remembers.
“One of the most important factors was having the confidence that ECi is heading in a direction that will get The Supply Room where we need to be technologically,” Schroeder explains.
“ECi’s leadership today has a vision for what needs to be done, not just in office products but in the other categories, like jan-san and MPS, that are increasingly important to us,” he continues.
Technical support was another key consideration. “ECi offers great customer service and, unfortunately, I didn’t find that with their competition,” Schroeder recalls. “With ECi, I have a warm body I can call and that warm body will respond to me instead of me getting a ticket and having to wait a few days for a call back. I also can’t say enough about the training support we get from ECi—that factored into the decision as well.”
Saving money, growing sales and improving customer service using ECi surround solutions
One clear indicator of the confidence Schroeder and his team have in ECi is the breadth of ECi solutions they deploy at The Supply Room.
In addition to the basic business system, The Supply Room also uses the ECinteractive® Web storefront, the DDMS Office Furniture Module, the DDMS Serialize Module (to help manage its machines and coffee and breakroom business), RouteTrak™ and RoutePerfect™ delivery management solutions, the Acsellerate® sales intelligence program and, the most recent addition, the PlanetPress® suite of programs for transactional and promotional document printing.
But is it really a good idea to put so much of your business in the hands of one software company?
Ask Jeff Schroeder that question and he doesn’t have to think very long about an answer. “When we implemented RouteTrak, we also made some other changes to our procedures and, together, they generated some $60,000 in savings in just the first year alone. RoutePerfect has reduced our delivery costs by another 15-20%,” he says happily.
The news for The Supply Room is just as good on the Internet. Currently, Schroeder estimates approximately 75% of the dealership’s office supplies sales come in via the ECinteractive Web storefront.
Schroeder can also point to seven different e-procurement punch-out sites and somewhere north of 2,000 commercial accounts on the company’s online rewards program as further evidence of ECinteractive’s ability to compete with just about anyone for online business.
And that’s just for starters! As Schroeder talks about future plans for technology use at The Supply Room, he makes clear his belief that, in many ways, the best is still very much to come.
“We’re really excited by what we’ve seen of the new user interface for ECinteractive,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s poised to take our own e-commerce efforts to a totally new level from a competitive standpoint and really help us improve our capabilities as an e-tailer. The new ECinteractive user interface is going to open up some tremendous new potential for us.”
Schroeder is just as enthusiastic about the benefits PlanetPress will bring to the dealership. “From a marketing and image perspective, implementing PlanetPress has taken us to another level that’s far superior to what we were used to,” he says.
“With PlanetPress, we’re now in full color with our documents sent to our customers. We are also able to insert messages into dead space on invoices and statements to support product promotions or advise customers on important changes in the business. PlanetPress delivers a much more professional document and sends a far more progressive and positive message about who we are as an organization.”
A true technology partner
For Jeff Schroeder and the rest of the team at The Supply Room Companies, “who we are as an organization” has seen some dramatic changes in recent years and there’s no indication the pace of change is going to slow down any time soon.
But even as the company continues to grow and evolve, there’s one key element that will remain the same: The partnership with ECi that has served The Supply Room so well during its recent growth surge will remain just as strong as it is today and the ECi team will continue to support Schroeder and other progressive dealers like him with innovative, business-oriented software solutions for many years to come.