When it comes to supporting growth-oriented lumber yards and hardware stores, nobody does it better than SpruceWare.NET™ software from ECi. Just ask Janelle Armentrout, chief financial officer at Butler, Missouri-based Midwest Lumber & Supply.
Since going live on Spruce in July 2011, Midwest Lumber has seen overall sales grow by more than 40% and added two new locations—going from two to four. At the same time, the business has grown more complex, with the addition of a truss manufacturing plant and a door shop.
Growth is usually a good thing but sometimes—particularly if the software you’re using isn’t up to dealing with it—it can put the business in a world of hurt.
Fortunately for Janelle and the rest of the Midwest Lumber team, that’s never an issue with Spruce.
Impressive growth led to need for new software
This is a special year for Midwest Lumber. It’s not only been generating some impressive growth in tough times but the company is also celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The business was founded in 1996 by Janelle’s parents, John and Maribeth Golladay, and while it enjoys a fair amount of retail, walk-in business, most of its revenue comes from the contractor side of the market.
In 2008, the Golladays—by then joined by son Brandon and daughter Janelle—opened a second location, in Pleasant Hill, Missouri, about 40 miles north of its Butler headquarters. Six years later, the company acquired a truss manufacturing plant and a door shop, followed soon after by a location that operates 100% as a contractor yard. Midwest Lumber today boasts some 55 employees, up from 40 just three years ago.
With that kind of growth in its recent past, the ability to manage further expansion was a top priority when Janelle went looking for new software.
“We chose Spruce because it’s set up to allow for growth”
“One of the key reasons we chose Spruce was because we saw how well it was set up in a way that would give us room to grow and expand,” explains Janelle.
“When we made the decision to switch to Spruce, we did not envision that we would expand the way we have but we were confident that Spruce would be sufficient to grow with us if and when we did expand.”
Some six years after making the switch, that confidence has been more than justified. “We added two locations and a manufacturing operation that is very different from our core business and Spruce handled it all seamlessly,” Janelle reports happily. “The Spruce technical support team was really good at working with us and when we wanted to add the additional branches, they were very flexible and did it on our time frame rather than insisting we did it on theirs.”
Bringing Spruce in to drive the business has also had a significant impact on productivity and the overall bottom line at Midwest Lumber.
“We are so much more efficient today with Spruce,” Janelle says. “Before we switched to Spruce, I used to manually process end of day, either after the store closed or first thing before business started up again. And once a month, I’d have to manually do end of month and generate statements. Now, thanks to Spruce, it’s all automated and processes that used to take hours now get taken care of with just a few keystrokes!”
Document management and business insight, a winning combination
Janelle also gives kudos to Spruce for its powerful document management capabilities. “Before we brought Spruce in, we were drowning in paper,” she recalls. “There were just so many documents that we had to keep on file and if you ever needed to find an old invoice or purchase order, it could take forever to track it down.”
With Spruce, the company’s routine business documents are now scanned into the system and information is accessible company-wide.
“One of the things I really like about Spruce is that from the time a customer orders something to the time they pay the bill, I can track everything,” Janelle says. “If I want to see how much money we made on a particular sale or from a particular customer, all I need are just a couple of keystrokes in Spruce and I’ve got the answer. Same story if I have a question about an invoice or an order.”
And, she points out, easy access to reliable, real-time information means management decisions are now based on hard data rather than gut feel or guesswork.
“We are so much better at running the business now compared to how we were before we switched to Spruce,” Janelle says. “Spruce has made us better at managing inventory; it’s made us better at managing margins and it’s made us better at setting realistic budgets and sales goals and meeting them. And our bottom line has definitely gotten better since switching to Spruce.”
Right now, the management team at Midwest Lumber has taken the foot off the accelerator just a little as they focus on absorbing their most recent growth surge. But if the company’s past history offers any indication, new expansion plans will be taking shape before too long and when that happens, Janelle Armentrout and the rest of the team can be confident Spruce will be more than able to handle anything they might throw at it and continue to keep their company strong and profitable every step of the way.
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