- Location: Lititz, Pennsylvania
- Industry: Hardware and Home Center, Farm/Agriculture
- Number of Locations: 2 hardware, 1 wholesale
- Number of Employees: 150
- Website: www.paulbhardware.com and www.paulbwholesale.com
- Co-op: Do it Best, Orgill
"We settled on Epicor because we liked that its customer base was broad, it had tried and true systems, and it brought structure into our business."
Jim Hostetter, President | PaulB Wholesale
PaulB Hardware began in a small metal and repair shop in 1947. The store split from the growing metal and repair shop in 1992 and moved into its present 50,000 square foot location. The two-location hardware business focuses on practical, heavy-duty hardware items and useful products for contractors, farmers, homeowners, and other commercial customers.
In 1985, PaulB Wholesale sprouted from the PaulB Hardware business as a source of agricultural, industrial, and mechanical parts and supplies. PaulB Wholesale stocks more than $2 million worth of inventory inside the 60,000 square foot building, has three full-time delivery trucks, and promotes its own branded products.
Increase business footprint with data-backed decisions
Both PaulB Hardware and PaulB Wholesale depend on the Epicor Eagle N Series retail business management system to successfully operate. “We operated on the OpenSystems software package for more than 30 years, but because of our growth and future expansion plans, we needed something more robust in order to increase our footprint,” said Jim Hostetter, president of PaulB Wholesale. “At that time, we looked at many different software packages. Some of them were appealing because they were more open, but we settled on Epicor because we liked that its customer base was broad, it had tried and true systems, and it brought structure into our business. We went live with the Eagle N Series solution in 2014. Since go-live, we’ve been able to more efficiently manage our business and make better business decisions. Specifically through better pricing management tools and better reporting, we have already seen our gross profit increase by 1.5 percent.”
Tools to analyze data
Business analytics tools organize and present information so that business leaders can gain insight. Insightful data has lead PaulB Hardware and PaulB Wholesale to make actionable changes in the business. “We use the Epicor Compass and Eagle Performance Manager tools to analyze business data. This allows us to build dashboards and seamlessly run reports every day—helping us to dive deep into areas such as inventory to aid our decision making,” said Hostetter. “We’ve been able to identify dead stock much better and put dollars into new products, new lines, and new brands. In our old software, we didn’t have visibility on when we sold into the negative. When we hit zero, we clearly saw the empty hooks. Through the combined use of the Compass, Performance Manager, and Inventory Planner solutions, we have decreased our ‘empty hook’ or ‘stock out’ issues by 40.3 percent.”
Good inventory management means carrying enough products to meet customer demand while eliminating the unnecessary excess that hurts profitability. “We reduced average inventory in one store by 8 percent and 1 percent in the other. Balancing the reduction of empty hooks against average inventory levels is key to success in this area. The Inventory Planner tool really gives us the visibility here and has helped identify slow-moving inventory. We’ve used this information to convert that inventory into cash to grow our fast-moving inventory levels,” said Hostetter.
“In addition, we implemented cycle counting using the tools within Eagle N Series and have been able to drive dollars out of our inventory and yet maintain our sales,” said Hostetter. “The credit goes to Inventory Planner for being a big piece of driving that inventory value down and improving our empty hooks at the same time. And, through improvements to our purchasing—the fact that we’re using suggested orders and managing the order points, rather than staff trying to manually adjust mins and maxes all the time—we’ve seen a huge time savings and been able to reduce purchasing labor costs by 17 percent. Our entire team is on board with inventory integrity, and we can trust the system.”
PaulB Hardware and PaulB Wholesale use the Eagle Advanced Special Orders tool to more quickly, easily, and effectively manage the purchasing and distribution process. “We do 7,500 special orders a year and managing those orders is a significant undertaking. The Buyer’s List functionality within Eagle Advanced Special Orders has drastically improved that process. Previously, we had to track a special order through description-based part numbers. It was cumbersome, and too many items got lost along the way,” said Hostetter. “Now, our staff on the floor are able to look at prices within Eagle themselves, they’re able to quote the customer directly, and then add the item to the Buyer’s List, and the buyers or purchasing agents put it on their purchase order. It has really streamlined our ordering process and improved customer service. It’s faster, accurate, and more consistent.”
“Because of our wholesale business, PaulB Wholesale, we needed to marry our retail business management software with a warehouse management system (WMS). Epicor was willing to build an integration and already had a relationship with the PathGuide Latitude WMS software system,” said Hostetter. “Without the Eagle and Latitude integration, we would’ve had to buy another sales and WMS platform for our wholesale business. We move a lot of goods back and forth every day between the PaulB Hardware and PaulB Wholesale locations, and if these two software packages weren’t talking, it would be a mess.”
Partnership supports growth
“As a business that has been around for 70 years, we’re at a very mature point,” said Hostetter. “Our three- to five-year plan includes expanding into at least one other location. So we’re excited to be able to use tools like Inventory Planners, Suggested Orders, Eagle N Series, and our WMS to feed data to another store with hopes that challenges are minimal.”
“We’re absolutely counting on our partnership with Epicor to be able to manage the pricing and inventory in multiple new stores,” said Hostetter.