- Location: Portland, Oregon
- Industry: Automotive Aftermarket
- Number of Locations: 1
- Website: www.portlandtrans.com
“It’s hard to put a dollar amount on the value that Eagle has provided us, but I know for a fact that we’re more efficient and we save money. We’re able to get more for our products than we probably would otherwise, because we’re able to manage pricing controls, stay on top of supplier pricing, and respond to it quicker. There are just a myriad of ways it’s helped us.”
Ross Bradshaw, President | Portland Transmission Warehouse
Parts proliferation in the automotive sector has created inventory management challenges for wholesale distributors, as they are forced to stock more and more part numbers despite limited space and finite capital resources. Ross Bradshaw, president of Portland Transmission Warehouse in Portland, Oregon, knows that maintaining the right parts mix and delivering those products to customers in a consistent, timely fashion is critical to success.
“Money doesn’t grow on trees, and when you’re faced with the prospect of having to add a significant number of new SKUs to your product mix it can be difficult,” Bradshaw says. “You’ve got space issues, cash flow issues, cataloging, and other problems to think about. It can be a lot of work to add numbers to what you stock and to figure out whether it’s going to be able to replace something you already have on the shelf or if you have to make room for a new part.”
Ensuring customer satisfaction
Founded in 1938 as a Texaco service station by Bradshaw’s grandfather, Gene, the company began transitioning to automotive parts supply in the 1950s. Today, it operates exclusively as a wholesale distributor, selling high-quality automatic powertrain parts, clutches, bearings, and other components primarily to transmission repair facilities throughout Oregon and into Idaho and Washington. Maintaining the right parts mix for these customers is demanding in itself, but the issue is further complicated by tight delivery deadlines that Portland Transmission must meet to ensure customer satisfaction.
When it comes to powertrain parts distribution, a small geographic area is better, according to Bradshaw, as most repair facilities expect parts to be delivered same-day or no later than first thing the next morning. “If you offer even next-day delivery that doesn’t arrive until the afternoon, you’re not getting that business,” he says.
Saving time and money
In a market increasingly occupied by big players, Portland Transmission has built its success on a reputation for personalized customer service and fast response times. That reputation owes itself in part to the company’s commitment to utilize digital technology to keep pace with growing business complexity. That commitment started with Bradshaw’s grandfather—who made the company one of the first West Coast distributors to integrate business management software in the 1970s—and continued to grow after his father, John Bradshaw, took over the business. In 2007, the company reinforced that commitment by upgrading its existing business management software program to the Epicor Eagle for the Automotive Aftermarket solution.
“You have to spend money to make money,” Bradshaw says. “That’s not just on parts and people, but for computer systems, too.”
Bradshaw and his team have leveraged the flexible Eagle software inventory management, point of sale (POS), and pricing capabilities to sustain the company’s continued growth and improve operational efficiency across the board. The upgrade has also allowed Portland Transmission to manage and respond to pricing changes quicker and to better cope with the ever-growing list of part numbers. “Our inventory has definitely grown over the last few years, but to be selling at the level we are now, I’m sure we’d be maintaining a larger inventory without Eagle software,” Bradshaw says.
Portland Transmission has also integrated the Epicor Compass analytics tool, which Bradshaw says has saved the company significant time by automating custom reports for customers. Further, the integration of the Epicor iNet eBusiness Suite has gone a long way with customers by allowing them to order parts online and access invoices and other documents using a web portal. The company recently upgraded to the new version of iNet to take advantage of an improved user interface and added functionality.
“It’s hard to put a dollar amount on the value that Eagle software has provided us, but I know for a fact that we’re more efficient and we save money,” Bradshaw says. “We’re able to get more for our products than we probably would otherwise, because we’re able to manage pricing controls, stay on top of supplier pricing, and respond to it quicker. There are just a myriad of ways it’s helped us.”
Employees benefit, too
According to Bradshaw, Portland Transmission’s employees have benefitted from using Eagle, gaining more visibility. Particularly, the Eagle Mobile Manager application—integrated into the business about five years ago—gives Portland Transmission’s outside salesmen access to valuable customer, item, sales, and inventory information on-the-go via their mobile devices. “It’s pretty nice to be able to look up a customer’s status—perhaps their balance or past purchases—and then create custom reports that my guys can pull and review,” Bradshaw says. “It’s something I’ve been able to let my salesmen just run with.”
In the future, Bradshaw says he hopes to make use of the Eagle Mobile Manager custom cataloging features.