Spruce software helps new entrepreneur create a successful, growing business
After 30 years with a major building products manufacturer, Denny Miller had had more than enough of the corporate grind and was ready for a change. So when the opportunity to buy a couple of lumber and hardware stores right in his own backyard came along, he and his wife Nancy seized it with both hands. The pair looked forward to becoming true entrepreneurs and masters of their own destiny.
The Falvey Lumber & Hardware stores, located in Albia, Iowa, and nearby Eddyville had been long-time fixtures of the community, with a history of service that went back all the way to 1905. But while Miller appreciated Falvey’s proud traditions, he knew that a strong technology base would be important in determining its continued success.
A software with integrated inventory was needed
Unfortunately for Miller and his team, the ink was hardly dry on the deal before he discovered the software that came with the business was a major obstacle to running it, let alone supporting any future growth. For starters, each location had its own business management system; one used ProsperityERP while the other used Cruise, a program whose makers weren’t even in business anymore!
The previous owner, Miller recalls, had been good friends of the Prosperity owners and had recommended them highly. As a result, Miller’s initial game plan called for only running separate systems for the two stores for a month or two and then switching from Cruise to Prosperity for both locations.
Once Miller and his team started using Prosperity, however, they quickly realized that a new plan would be needed and fast!
“The people at Prosperity were great, but the program itself was underperforming,” Miller recalls. “There was no inventory module, general ledger was a total disaster, and I ended up doing my first year taxes off of Excel spreadsheets,” he reports.
“It’s a scary thing when find yourself running a business with a system you figure is going to do what you need, only to realize once you get into it that none of that is going to happen!” And any time Miller asked Prosperity when needed functionality would be forthcoming, he always got the same answer: It was under development. “We were continually finding things that either weren’t there or weren’t working properly and we were always being told it would be in the next release—except that it never was!”
The switch to Spruce injected efficiency into every area of the business
After six harrowing months of trying to run the business with the program he had inherited, Miller switched to Spruce lumber and building materials software from ECi Software Solutions.
“We had a chance to see Spruce at a Do it Best Market we attended and quickly realized we could do things with it that Prosperity couldn’t even dream of doing,” Miller remembers. “I also liked the fact that it was a Windows-based program, which I was a lot more familiar with and that new hires would find so much easier to learn. Plus, they showed me a way I could use Spruce to take my two branches, which were still running totally separately, and combine them under one single system.”
All of that was just for starters!
Cloud-based software infrastructure proves indispensable to supporting two stores
“Spruce is a cloud-based system and that means I can now share inventory data between the two locations, which I wasn’t going to be able to do with Prosperity. I also have a central office now, where all my accounting takes place instead of having to split it between the two locations,” Miller reports.
Software updates and upgrades, as well as security no longer require internal IT resources either, as they are all handled automatically. This frees up valuable time and resources for Miller and his team.
Spruce’s hardware and lumber industry veterans provide ongoing support
In addition to the superior features and functionality that came with the program, Miller also gives kudos to the help Spruce provided with the conversion and for the quality of support the company continued to offer after the switch.
“We had a Spruce representative on site with us for the implementation and it all went smoothly for both locations. After he was gone, the Spruce help desk was very responsive. We would call with questions and get answers very quickly.”
As a relative newcomer to the industry, Miller also appreciated the fact that Spruce is hardware and lumber software designed by hardware and lumber people. “Because it is so specific to our business, we never had to go in and try to reinvent the wheel,” he explains. “The inventories that you had to obtain, the pricing schemas, all the units of measure issues—everything was all there already within the system and it was just a matter of me figuring out how to use it to get the answers I needed.”
Thanks to a combination of Spruce’s Windows-based architecture, super-responsive customer support, and extensive training resources, it wasn’t long before Miller found himself using the program to make the business stronger instead of having to create workarounds that compensate for Prosperity’s shortcomings.
Business and accounting tasks that once took hours or days now take minutes
Processing deliveries with Prosperity could literally take days, Miller reports. Now, this process gets done in no more than 30 minutes thanks to Spruce. And while Miller’s bookkeeper would spend at least a day working on sales taxes with Prosperity, Miller says that Spruce takes ten minutes at the most, even though Falvey’s has customers in multiple counties.
As Miller learns more about Spruce and its capabilities, his confidence in his new company’s future only grows stronger. “A solid, state-of-the art technology base is absolutely critical for a business like ours and that’s what we’ve got now, thanks to Spruce.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind about Spruce’s ability to support our future growth. It’s important to us today and it’s only going to become even more important for us going forward,” Miller proudly beams.