Posted by Barney Beal, Content Director, NetSuite
An oil boom, cloud ERP and nimble adaptation to market conditions have made all the difference for one wholesale distributor.
When Allied Valve first launched its 12-license NetSuite implementation, it had 45 employees across three locations doing about $10 million in sales and it was in the midst of divesting itself from a larger company.
Ten years later, thanks in part to the Bakken Oil boom, Allied Valve now has six locations across as many states doing over $30 million in sales and 100 NetSuite licenses for its 165 employees.
The mainstream adoption of cloud ERP may seem a recent development, but the reality is companies like Allied Valve put their faith in NetSuite and the cloud years ago and both NetSuite, which now counts more than 20,000 companies and subsidiaries as customers, and Allied Valve, which has seen growth of 400 percent, are reaping the rewards of the relationship.
From the beginning, Allied Valve recognized the importance of a cloud solution.
With a single instance available to anyone with a web browser at any time, NetSuite allowed Allied Valve to treat its disperse organization as a single company.
“We have the ability to treat our inventory spread across locations as a single inventory,” said Jodie Schwirtz, Allied Valve’s CIO. “It’s allowed us to treat technicians and resources the same way.”
Five years ago, Allied Valve had a minimal presence in North Dakota, with just one technician working out of space rented from another company. At the time, all business transactions went back and forth via paper. The development of the Bakken oil and the sudden surge in demand for the custom assembly and repair of industrial valves that Allied Valve specializes in meant the company would need to scale rapidly. The lack of infrastructure in North Dakota, NetSuite’s flexibility and Allied Valve’s creative use of the solution made the NetSuite cloud an ideal fit.
For example, Allied Valve did not need to set up new ERP instances in North Dakota for local technicians, they could simply log into NetSuite from a laptop. In fact, now, with the new NetSuite for iPhone application those technicians just bring their iPads out into the field and access pictures and specification and check inventory. They no longer are at the mercy of the customer’s Wi-Fi system, which can be difficult to access at remote locations with strict security requirements.
Additionally, the flexibility of NetSuite and Allied Valve’s innovative use of it helped the company quickly equip and mentor a new workforce. Allied Valve works with complex and sophisticated product that can be a challenge for new hires. So, the company uses NetSuite to mentor them. For example, an experienced technician in the Riverdale, Iowa home office can connect with a new technician in the Appleton, Wis. office, review the transaction with him and help provide estimates for a customer on a project he’s not familiar with.
“The work we do is specialized and custom,” Schwirtz said. “It takes a lot of experience to get the expertise. Until someone gets there on a new product or a new service, we route that to a new location. Then, someone can come in, review the estimate and, if needed, say this is not the most efficient way. Just the ability to have those transactions available to everybody, whether in your direct line of vision or not, gives us the ability to take our deep experience in one place and use that benefit the whole company.”
Future plans with NetSuite
After 10 years, Allied Valve still isn’t done expanding on its use of NetSuite. The company is in the process of developing an asset management capability that extends beyond just transactions with the help of NetSuite Professional Services. With a wide range of very specific, complex parts in need of ongoing maintenance, an opportunity exists for Allied Valve to grant its customers access to the system, helping them to not only pay bills but for example, check in on maintenance or insurance requirements.
“We probably spent the first five years saying, ‘how do we combine our business with NetSuite,” Schwirtz said, explaining how the company put sales, wholesale distribution and field service on the system. “The next five years is really making those parts work together, finding out what info we could bring to NetSuite.
“We feel that in choosing NetSuite we made the right decision,” Schwirtz said. “It’s been a significant part of our growth over past 10 years and we’re going to keep on this road."