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Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Hands Off" - Keys to Reducing Inefficiencies to Improve Profits

Battered by consistent reports of bad economic news? Winning distributors and manufacturers are seizing opportunity in the downturn by optimizing operating processes and investing in their business as others cut back, expanding while their competitors shrink.

In this educational Webcast, sponsored by Microsoft Dynamics and Industrial Distribution Magazine, learn some ways distributors are gaining traction in tough times while preparing for the eventual upswing. Join industry experts for this Webinar and learn:

* How optimizing the "front office" pays dividends for the entire business
* How reducing reliance on paper orders & manual reviews saves costs
* How a "No Touch" business environment can benefit your business
* How "role-based" systems are helping to maximize employee time
* How one small distributor increased profitability without hiring more labor

To view, visit:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Distributors Must Embrace Change and Activant Is Ready to Help

Activant Summit Attracts More than 1,300 attendees

"Shift happens," announced Kevin Roach, executive vice president and general manager of Activant Solutions Inc., at Summit 2009, Activant's annual conference for wholesale distributors.
Quoting Alvin Toffler -- "Change is the process by which the future invades our lives." -- Roach told the more than 1,300 professionals assembled in Nashville, TN, in early March that there has been a major shift in the United States from manufacturing to a more information-centric economy, which directly impacts wholesale distributors.

Officially kicking off three days of educational and networking sessions, Roach encouraged the crowd: "Don't let shift [change] happen to you. Make shift happen. It's particularly important in these tough economic times that we are not insular -- that we look outside of our industry to understand how others are using shift to their advantage."

Pointing out that the time it takes the economy to recover from a recession is historically much faster than the time it takes to slip into one, Roach encouraged distributors to position themselves for the future.

Hard Realities
Roach didn't shy away from telling distributors the truth about the lagging use of technology in their industry. "The hard reality is that pervasive EDI adoption among wholesale distributors is only about 12 to 18 percent... as compared to nearly 100 percent of manufacturers and suppliers," he pointed out. "A recent survey revealed that only 39 percent of wholesale distributors can accurately track operating profit by customer and that only 30 percent can track the profitability of fee-based services.

"The lack of access to this kind of information -- in real-time and in actionable form -- effectively leaves you behind the wheel with no dashboard, no windshield -- just an accelerator and a brake to manage your business," Roach continued. "In an environment where change is occurring more rapidly, more dramatically, and more frequently than ever before, you can no longer afford to drive your business the same way and expect to get the results you're aiming for."

Roach cited the example of CC Dickson, an Activant customer in attendance at the conference. "Only seven years ago they were running a $115 million operation on paper alone with more than 800 employees and 112 locations. Now the company uses an Activant ERP solution, streamlining their entire business. That's some crazy shift."

Citing figures that demonstrate a loss of more than 200,000 wholesale distribution businesses in the past 10 years, Roach urged distributors to adapt.

"Adaptation means you constantly modernize your processes to meet the competitive watermark," he told the packed room. "What you were doing a few years ago isn't going to cut it today. Improvement is not an event, it's a process. In today's economy, you must reinvent yourself constantly."

Promising that Activant will continue to do all it can to help distributors succeed, Roach concluded his comments: "We are your partners. Our success as a technology partner is 100 percent predicated on your success as a distributor. We want you to strive... to compete on a higher level... and to ultimately succeed through solutions that help your business run more flexibly, efficiently, and profitably."

Distributors gathered in Nashville to participate in three days of educational sessions and networking events designed to help them maximize the use of their Activant solution. Classes were lead by Activant technology experts as well as well-known industry consultants, including David Bauders, Bill McCleave, Dr. Barry Lawrence, Bill Muehlbauer, and Jon Schreibfeder.
Daron Brown of South Central Company, an HVAC distributor located in Columbus, IN, raved about what Summit 2009 did for his business: "There is no doubt in my mind that with the tools we brought back [from Summit], we will get ROI from this trip. It was potentially a company changing week for us."

Aaron Pace, of EVCO House of Hose, a Salt Lake City-based fluid power distributor, agreed. "Our company has sent people to Summit every year for the last four years." commented Pace. "It is ALWAYS worth the money! Not only is the software education top-notch, the general business training is certainly a cut above the rest. As far as training and networking dollars go, Summit, by far, offers more bang for your buck than almost anything else out there."

Summit 2010 is scheduled to take place March 10 through 14, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
To find out more, visit, e-mail, or call 1-800-776-7438, press 1.

About Activant Solutions Inc.
Activant Solutions Inc. ("Activant") is a leading technology provider of business management solutions serving retail and wholesale distribution businesses in three primary vertical markets: hardlines and lumber; wholesale distribution; and the automotive parts aftermarket. Founded in 1972, Activant provides customers with tailored proprietary software, professional services, content, supply chain connectivity, and analytics. More than 30,000 customer locations use an Activant solution to manage their day-to-day operations. Activant has operations throughout the United States and Canada , Ireland , and the United Kingdom.

For more information, please visit

Monday, April 6, 2009

Get Inspired By St.Louis' Unsung Business Leaders

By Jeremy Nulik, Small Business Monthly

Many people believe that there is no such thing as true altruism. To those folks, this year’s Heroes in Business present quite a quandry. Refusing to buy in to the laws of scarcity, this pack is changing the business profile of our region by selflessly giving their time and talent to other businesses.

These unsung heroes create the environment necessary for growth. After reading their stories, it will be difficult to figure out how it is that St. Louis has been as successful as it has, since characters like them are so rare. Prepare to be inspired to be a hero.

Read on about how Steve Epner from the Brown Smith Wallace Consulting Group and Saint Louis University is "Inspiring Others With Imaginative Thinking." Download the PDF by visiting

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