West Kingston, Rhode Island
When Melody Drnach joined West Kingston, Rhode Island-based Liberty Cedar to focus on operations in October 2013, she came in with a clear mandate to upgrade the company’s technology infrastructure and identify and implement new ways to sell lumber in an increasingly online world.
Since the company first opened for business in 1990, Liberty Cedar has become a key resource for fine quality specialty wood products, both for residential and commercial building projects, in a market that not only covers most of New England and Long Island but also includes a second location in Charleston, South Carolina.
It was a strong and growing business, but Melody and the rest of the Liberty Cedar team were keenly aware that what got them to where they are today will not necessarily take them to where they want to be tomorrow.
“In today’s world, a strong technology backbone is essential to a company like ours,” she says. “It’s not only critical to making our own people as productive as possible but it’s also an increasingly important part of how we communicate with customers and increase our responsiveness.”
“We wanted a lumber-specific software”
About a year after Melody joined Liberty Cedar, the company took a major step forward to strengthen its technology base when it implemented Spruce from ECi Software Solutions to run the business.
Before switching to Spruce, the company had been using a generic business accounting program for about 10 years and, for co-owner David Goss, it was time for a change. “David decided he wanted an industry-specific, lumber-based software program and when we started looking at what was out there, it became clear very quickly that Spruce was the logical choice,” Melody explains.
In an ideal world, switching software would involve little more than shutting down the old program one day and booting up the new one the next in seamless, trouble-free fashion.
Unfortunately, Liberty Cedar, like most lumberyard operations, doesn’t live in an ideal world.
“Any transition has its challenges,” said Melody. “But the Spruce team did an amazing job of working with us and getting us up to speed on how to use the system to manage how we actually do business. Many of Spruce’s trainers are former users themselves with extensive industry experience and they were very responsive.”
Adds Melody, “With Spruce, we have a genuine working partnership. The Spruce team listens to our suggestions and they are sincerely interested in identifying ways to make the program better and more supportive of our business, rather than operating as just another vendor.”
Spruce and BuilderWire work together to deliver superior e-commerce functionality
Once Spruce was up and running, Melody’s focus shifted to Liberty Cedar’s online presence. “Liberty Cedar had a very static website when I joined the company and I knew we had to take it to a different level if we wanted to keep growing,” she recalls.
The solution: the IBOS 3.0 Internet-based ordering system from BuilderWire, Inc.
BuilderWire offered a proven web storefront solution with an impressive array of features and functionality but the main reason Melody chose them was the close relationship between BuilderWire’s senior technical staff and their counterparts at Spruce.
“The last thing we wanted was to get stuck between programmers from two different companies who didn’t understand each other’s product,” Melody explains. “As we developed our own site, we learned how the Spruce Group/Section structure integrates with the structure of BuilderWire’s e-commerce sites and that knowledge was invaluable,” she says.
Also invaluable was the level of support both Spruce and BuilderWire brought to the table. “Whenever we were challenged with a problem during the planning and implementation stage, we could call either Spruce or BuilderWire and get assistance,” she recalls. “Regardless of whose software we were working with, we always got the answer we needed. And often, we found ourselves working with staff from both Spruce and BuilderWire who were more than willing to work together to resolve our inquiry.”
A strong technology backbone is the key to success
The technology infrastructure at Liberty Cedar today is light years ahead of what is was when Melody Drnach first came on board. Management at the company is making faster and more informed decisions, thanks to the data generated on key business metrics by the Spruce Dashboard. The Liberty Cedar outside sales team now travels with their own iPads and the ability to access stock levels, show product to customers and place their orders online.
While online sales still represent a small percentage of Liberty Cedar’s overall sales, the number of people accessing Liberty Cedar’s website increases each month. The number of quotes that turn into orders is growing, with orders coming in from as far away as Colorado.
In addition, BuilderWire’s user-friendly updating tool has made the company pretty much self-sufficient when it comes to keeping the website current.
And Spruce and the easy, companywide access it offers to key business information have helped make the entire organization more productive and profitable.
As Melody Drnach talks about how Liberty Cedar operates today and its prospects for the future, her pride in being part of a team of hard-working, service-oriented lumber industry professionals comes through loud and clear.
But so too does her confidence in Liberty Cedar’s current technology partners. “Spruce and BuilderWire work very well together and we have had no major problems with the integration since going live,” she reports happily. “For any lumberyard looking for a smooth and easy path to move into the universe of e-commerce, Spruce and BuilderWire are the perfect team!”