Curry Lumber & Pole Building
When David Nally took over as president of Curry Lumber & Pole Building Co. in 2011, he came to the company with a clear mission: to take back lost market share and re-establish Curry Lumber as a go-to resource, both for building contractors and retail do-it-yourselfers in the Wooster, Ohio, market the company serves.
Curry Lumber has a proud history of service that goes all the way back to 1853, but history will only get you so far. As an industry veteran with nearly 25 years’ experience in the independent lumber yard business, Nally quickly realized some key areas of the business were in dire need of a major overhaul or upgrade.
At the same time, Nally saw a clear need to bring new levels of efficiency to the operation internally. When he joined the company, there were somewhere in the region of 50 employees on the payroll and they were all still using pen and paper to run things! "The amount of paperwork involved in running an installed sales business is enormous and that alone made the search for business management software a top priority," he says.
But Nally knew his choice of software could potentially be a make-or-break decision for the company as a whole. So he took his time, looked at a number of different software options and talked to several other lumber yard operators in other markets to get their perspectives.
Spruce the logical choice
At the end of nearly a year’s worth of research, one choice stood out from the rest: Spruce.
There were a number of factors that made Spruce the best solution for Nally and his team. "First of all," he points out, "Spruce is specifically designed for our kind of business. We weren’t being asked to buy into a ‘one shoe fits all’ type of program that was also being used by pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers. Spruce was developed specifically for the lumber industry by lumber industry people and that made a big difference."
Nally also liked the idea of working with a Windows-based system. "The Windows platform made Spruce very easy to navigate," he says. "And other lumber yard operators told me that with Spruce, they did not have to devote much staff time and resources themselves to keep it running." Even more persuasive was Spruce’s installed sales module. "Even with all the changes, installed sales were still central to our success and it was critical for us to have software capable of handling that side of the business effectively," Nally explains.
Conversion from an entirely paper-based system to full automation presented a challenge
But while Spruce was the logical choice, Nally recognized that moving from a totally paper-based system would not be easy. "Everything was manual before we moved to Spruce and that created some major problems," he recalls.
Controller Shayne Glass, who had joined the company just six months before the Spruce implementation began, played a key role in the transition. "We basically had nothing to import into Spruce in the way of an electronic database and that was a huge challenge," Glass says. "We got as much data as we could from our suppliers and tried to capture as much SKU and pricing information as possible but it was still all very time consuming."
The process, says Glass, could have been a whole lot worse, however, without the service and support Spruce provided. "Spruce has a great implementation team and they made a big difference," he says. "The Spruce data implementation and general ledger specialists were extremely helpful and their trainer was also very good."
Glass himself had no prior lumber business experience and wasn’t familiar with Spruce before the implementation. However, thanks to the support and resources Spruce provided—and the user-friendliness of the program in general—none of that really mattered.
"There was a learning process involved in moving to Spruce but it was fairly easy," Glass recalls. "And even though most of the Curry Lumber team had very little previous computer experience, the program’s ease of use turned what could have been a high-stress undertaking into a much smoother experience."
Streamlined inventory, point-of-sale, estimating and accounting
Just two short years after Curry Lumber made the switch, the company is in a very different place from before and in a very good way.
"Spruce has given our operations a level of consistency and efficiency that we simply didn’t have before," says Glass. "With Spruce, we’ve seen huge improvements in inventory management, point-of-sale and estimating and it has dramatically streamlined our accounting across the board."
Curry Lumber’s walk-in customers today are processed far faster at the point of sale because the process is entirely automated instead of having to look up prices in a price book and calculate totals and sales tax manually.
And Spruce has brought significant improvements to the way charge account customers are processed. "Before Spruce, if a charge account customer came in," recalls Glass, "our checkout guy would have to manually write down what he was buying and look up the regular pricing and most of the time, he would not know how to price for our charge account customers. Now, that information is in the system and it calculates the right pricing automatically."
On the estimating side, trying to decipher scratched out estimates on notepads has been replaced by just a few keyboard strokes that instantly bring up the required data. "Now," explains Glass, "if a customer calls us three months after we gave them the quote, we can pull up that estimate and continue the conversation—there’s no more having to go back through a mountain of paper files to try and find it. And when the quote becomes an order, all you have to do is copy the details over from the customer screen into the order screen. It’s seamless and so much more efficient than what we were doing before."
Document management helps keep track of all transactional information
Spruce’s strong document management capabilities have been particularly useful on the installed sales side of the business, says Nally. "With Spruce, any supporting documents on a project can be scanned and made a permanent part of the customer’s file," he explains. "That’s enormously beneficial in a construction services environment, where you can often find yourself looking for critical information years after the initial work was done."
Spruce’s ability to organize specific projects for individual accounts and keep the data separate has also turned out to be a big plus, Glass adds. "A system where different jobs for the same account are all rolled up together under that account with no separation would create huge problems for us," he says. "With Spruce, we’re able to organize critical account information the way we want to and it’s always very easy to access."
Pricing is another key area where Spruce has brought major benefits. "Before we switched to Spruce, it was impossible for us to adjust for constantly fluctuating costs and we were always behind," explains Nally. "Now, our point of sale system always knows our cost and what the correct price should be and it’s always current information."
Adds Glass, "Spruce has not only helped with the customer’s overall experience with us but internally, it has eliminated duplicate processes, brought new consistency to how data is entered and made the need to pass papers from person to person within the organization a thing of the past."
The result: The company has been able to grow volume significantly over the past few years and expand its SKU count from around 5,000 pre-Spruce, to closer to 9,000 today without having to add a single person to its inside support staff!
"Spruce is saving us time, reducing overhead and allowing us to make investments in new product categories and services that would otherwise go to support our internal operations," Glass says. "And Spruce has an awesome support team that continues to do a very good job of responding to our specific requirements.
"As a company, our entire organization is committed to doing whatever it takes to make the customer happy. The Spruce team brings a similar attitude to what they do for us and it’s made a huge difference to our business."