La Crosse Lumber switches to cloud-based Spruce ERP software to keep business moving in the right direction
After using the same software to run the lumber business for more than 10 years, La Crosse Lumber Co. President Kevin Keely knew it was time for a change. The system the Louisiana, Missouri, company had been using, Activant Falcon® enterprise software from Epicor®, may have gotten the job done once upon a time; but those days were gone.
As the company’s ERP solution fell behind the times, change was necessary
Epicor itself had gone through a lot of changes in ownership in recent years, and Keely felt the company had suffered as a result. “It seemed like customer service at Epicor was not at the level it was when we first bought into them, and the cost of their service contracts were really out of hand for what we were getting,” Keely recalls.
Most importantly, he says, Epicor had become for him an old, outdated system that was no longer capable of taking his company in the direction he wanted to take it.
Keely started investigating other ERP options and one quickly stood out from the rest as the only logical choice for a business like La Crosse: Spruce® lumber and building materials management software from ECi Software Solutions.
Operational efficiency, growth, and profitability were the reasons to get Spruce cloud-based ERP software
“Spruce just seemed to be more in tune with the needs of today’s business,” explains Keely. “I really liked the idea of moving to the cloud for several reasons. In general, Spruce was more aggressive when it came to newer ideas on how to use the software to make us stronger and more profitable.”
But figuring out the program you need and putting it to work in your business smoothly and effectively are two very different things. There may be more stressful ways for an entrepreneur to spend his time than switching enterprise software, but not too many. And for Keely and his team, that task would be particularly challenging.
La Crosse Lumber has a proud tradition of service and value that goes all the way back to its founding in the 1870s. Today, the company operates 14 different locations in addition to its headquarters and serves as a true one-stop resource for its customers. Its product mix goes far beyond its roots in the lumber business to include farm and ranch, HVAC, lawn and garden, power tools, cleaning supplies, paints, and more.
Moving to a centralized system from a decentralized business model would make transitioning a challenge—or would it?
Unlike many retail chains, La Crosse operates a decentralized business model with each location running pretty much as an independent store. “Our yards function almost like franchises and each manager has a lot of independence when it comes to what they buy and how they price, depending on the community and the markets they serve,” Keely says.
With that kind of model, converting to new software across so many different locations could easily have become a nightmare. Yet Keely reports happily that it all went super-smoothly.
Transition planning and support ensure a smooth same day conversion for 14 locations
“Overall, our go-live with Spruce went great,” he says. “When we changed software with Epicor, we took one store live at a time and it took over a year to do them all,” he recalls. Working in tandem, La Crosse and Spruce’s technical support team had 14 lumber yards and the headquarters location up and running on Spruce the same day, and with no major glitches.
“The conversion was planned out well and the Spruce people were very accessible and took care of any issues that arose,” says Keely. “The big thing for us was that we heard nothing from any of our customers when we converted. When you make a major change to the business like bringing in new software and your customers don’t even realize it happened, that’s what I call a success. That’s particularly true when you’re doing it across 14 very different locations, plus our headquarters office!”
Once La Crosse went live with Spruce, the benefits to the business started flowing from day one.
Visibility into the business enables growth through timely decision-making
La Crosse’s store managers still had the all-important freedom they needed to run their own locations to meet local market needs, but now they and the management team at headquarters were doing so with much more timely information.
“With Spruce, we can see what’s going on in real-time,” Keely explains. “If you buy something at one of my locations, I’ve got the information on my computer right then and there. Our headquarters team can look at daily sales and daily margins and see real-time data. With Epicor, you had to go through a day-end routine to get that information, and that was not a good thing.
“With Spruce, we can look at transactions and see immediately if there is a problem with a sale price. We can make any changes when they’re needed instead of having to wait for the next day-end report to find out. With the old system, we were always a day behind and then we would have to contact the customer and let them know what was going on. We don’t have that problem now.”
Moving to a cloud-based ERP system like Spruce also made routine maintenance and backups a whole lot easier.
“With Epicor, I had all the servers here in my office. We had to take care of them ourselves and usually had to replace them every four or five years,” Keely says.” Now, everything runs off of Spruce’s servers. We don’t have to worry about servers going down or needing to be re-booted. And, instead of us doing the backups, they’re done both through the cloud and at another offsite location.”
Responsiveness to the company’s software needs is a primary business driver
But the good news about La Crosse Lumber’s move to Spruce is not all due to hardware and software. Keely also gives kudos to the people side of Spruce and its customer service and technical support teams.
“Since we made the switch, Spruce has been a very responsive to our requirements and has quickly adapted to our type of business,” he says. “Their regional consultant, Nicole Adams, has been great to work with and Spruce as a company has been very open to our concerns and willing to address them.”
It’s been just over a year since La Crosse Lumber moved from Epicor to Spruce and Keely makes it very clear he has no doubts the decision was the right one.
“For a company of our size—100-plus employees across 15 different locations—getting everybody up and running on new software in one day could have been a scary, huge job but it went very well,” he says. “We’ve definitely been getting our money’s worth since then and Spruce is giving us the modernization that I wanted for the company. It’s just a very good product that’s backed up by some very good people.”