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Software crafted for LBM dealers

Success Story:
Hamlin Building Center

Spruce brings greater efficiency, ease of use and increased information access

It’s been three years now, but Rick Homola still remembers the days when putting the monthly statements together was an all-day process, when his people would spend hours trying to track down an old invoice or PO, and when running the business was mostly a matter of gut feel and guesswork.

That was life for the folks at Hamlin Building Center in Lake Norden, South Dakota, before they switched to Spruce.

Hamlin is very much a family business. Rick’s father, Tom, bought the company in 1992. It’s also a very successful business—averaging double-digit sales growth since that time, Rick reports. But while growth on that scale has been very welcome, of course, it has not come without its own special challenges.

And one key area that came under increasing pressure as the company grew was the computer system the Hamlin team was using to run things.

Putting it simply, our software just wasn’t keeping up with the business," recalls Rick. "It wasn’t an easy system to use, there was limited access to real-time data and adding to the problem, our software provider was unresponsive and customer service overall was poor." It was time for a change and the Hamlin team started to explore their options.

After carefully evaluating competing systems and doing their due diligence, they chose Spruce. That was in 2012 and since then, says Rick, he’s become more and more convinced every year that it was absolutely the right decision.

"There’s no question we have gotten a very strong return on our investment in Spruce," says Rick happily. "It probably paid for itself in the first year we had it and since then, Spruce has made life simpler and more productive throughout the company."

Three ways that Spruce LBM software helps Hamlin

Ask Rick or anyone else at Hamlin where exactly Spruce has made the biggest difference and he says they would all point to three key aspects of the software.

"Spruce has brought a much more efficient document management system to the business," he says. "It used to be that if we had a question about an order or an outstanding invoice, it could take hours to track down the paperwork. Now, it’s literally available in seconds with just a few keystrokes."

And as for those monthly statements mentioned at the top the story? "Before we switched to Spruce, I would come in early and spend the entire day getting those statements ready to go out," Rick remembers. "Now, we do it in less than half that time!"

The software also gets kudos from Rick for its ease-of-use. "Spruce is Windows® based so if you’re at all familiar with any of the Microsoft Office® programs, it’s a no-brainer to learn," he explains. "With Spruce, we can get new hires up to speed and fully functioning so much faster than before—that’s been a huge plus!"

But the area where Spruce really shines, he says, is to be found in the way it supports management and decision making at Hamlin.

"Spruce gives us the ability to track how the business is doing, literally on a minute-by-minute basis," he says, pointing happily to an onscreen dashboard that delivers real time information on key metrics such as sales, average overall margin, accounts receivables, returns and more.

"From an owner’s perspective, the ability Spruce has given us to make decisions based on reliable, timely data rather than guesswork or gut feel has been invaluable," Rick says.

Spruce's support made the transition easier

While the bells and whistles Spruce brings to the table are impressive enough, they’re only part of the story, however. The people at Spruce, Rick makes clear, have also brought a marked improvement to the technology picture at Hamlin.

If it’s not done right, switching software can be among the most stressful and risk-laden activities for any business owner or manager. When Hamlin converted to Spruce, however, things could not have gone much smoother.

"Spruce gave us a schedule with various milestones for the conversion process and made sure everything went off without a hitch," Rick recalls. "There may have been a minor hiccup or two but they were quickly taken care of and as far as our customers were concerned, the transition was almost seamless."

Spruce’s technical support has continued at that high level ever since, he says. "Customizing the management dashboard is very simple and I can do much of it myself," Rick explains. "But any time I have needed a little extra help, all I have to do is call Spruce and they’ve been very responsive."

Business these days at Hamlin Building Center is still growing but handling that growth is a whole lot less stressful than it used to be. And, as Rick Homola makes clear, a key reason for that very welcome reduction in stress is the efficiency, ease of use and real-time access to critical information Spruce has brought to the company.

Click to download the full Hamlin Building Center case study

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