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  Manufacturing Insights   |   April, 2007
A Distributor Turns A Network Disaster into Operational Success
by Thomas R. Cutler

Being able to quickly respond to customer requirements is key to a distributor. Having reliable data that is easily accessible is a vital part of any distributors business. Don Beisswanger, President of Pacific Southwest Sales, faced a very unfortunate situation. His current business software was suddenly inoperable and he needed to find a software solution that would be quick to implement as well as sufficiently robust enough to accommodate the company’s expansion for years to come.

As a growing distributor of metal framing products, Pacific Southwest Sales could not afford the operational set back brought on by a network disaster. Beisswanger had to get an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) technology solution in place rapidly so his employees could begin shipping and invoicing again.

Headquartered in Vernon, California, Pacific Southwest Sales is a regional distributor of metal framing, channels, fittings, and accessories. The privately owned company distributes metal framing products to dealers and end users throughout the west coast of the United States. The company is a member of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representative Association members located in Southern California. NEMRA members are trained to know the type of support that is needed to sell potential customers including calls on Engineers, Contractors, or Plant Maintenance people. Pacific Southwest Sales focuses on three primary brands in their distribution business: Power-Strut, Aickinstrut, and TJ Cope Cable Tray Systems.

Network Crisis Resolution:
He located Technology Group International (TGI Ltd.) over the internet and began dialogue with the company’s sales team. Within a week the two companies had reviewed Beisswanger’s system requirements, performed software demonstrations, and had contracts signed.

Within a few more weeks, Pacific Southwest Sales was up and running with TGI’s ERP software, Enterprise 21. Although this type of rapid implementation isn’t the standard implementation path taken by TGI, it was necessary for Pacific Southwest Sales to begin operating at its full capabilities. Fortunately the company found an adaptable software product and vendor to support the speed at which Don’s project team was forced to travel.

According to Rebecca Gill, vice president of TGI, “The reasons Enterprise 21 was such a good fit for Pacific Southwest Sales, and most distribution organizations, includes easy yet flexible order management capabilities, strong inventory control, and integrated DRP processing. The needs of distributors are quite specific. Don was looking for a fully integrated system that offered fast access to data and found that with Enterprise 21.”

Months after implementation, the Pacific Southwest Sales team is happy with their package selection and they are far from the dreaded buyer’s remorse frequently experience with such fast decisions. In a post sale interview with Don, he stated “Overall the product has really been amazing. We are getting more and more excited every day due to all the new functionality we are finding and the anticipation of using functionality we know is there but have not yet implemented.”

According to Beisswanger, “We have experienced great improvements in our operations. Enterprise 21 has allowed us to quickly see exactly what customers have purchased and the prices they've paid. Given the nature of the steel industry and the fluctuations in market pricing, this has been a huge help to our organization. Our company has also benefited by streamlining processing in purchasing activities. Prior to implementing the new system we never used MRP and DRP processing. We now have the ability to review requirements online, quickly convert these requirements to purchase orders, and send them via fax and EDI. These new capabilities are wonderful."

Gill also suggested that antiquated technology solutions and network disasters, like Pacific Southwest Sales, are more common than reported. “We have worked dozens of other distributors including Lowry Computer Products, Clark Power Products, Lynn Medical, and West Coast Novelty that were experiencing deficient ERP systems or rudimentary solutions. The number one objective among distributors upgrading an antiquated system is moving to a fully integrated system that offers fast access to accurate data.”

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide – Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of twenty seven hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is also the author of the Manufacturers’ Public Relations and Media Guide. Cutler is a frequently published author within the manufacturing sector with more than 300 feature articles authored annually; he can be contacted at

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