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Tuesday | 15 August, 2017 | 10:51 am

Custom fit

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Eniteo saves Contractors Steel Co. hours of paperwork with its integrated modules for administrative functions.

The paper chase is over for service center that adopts tailor-made ERP software

August 2017 - Finding the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) software can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. For some companies, the search starts with a question. Will a generic ERP system with traditional workflows suffice or is an industry-specific software package the right choice?

Livonia, Michigan-based Contractors Steel Co., took on the challenge when it outgrew its tried-and-true proprietary in-house system. Owner Don Simon and Chief Operating Officer Marc Bokas took a leap of faith with Enmark Systems’ fully integrated, Windows-based Eniteo software platform tailored specifically to support metal centers.

Stepping out in faith is nothing new, though, for Simon. In 1960,  he quit his job, rented space in a Detroit building supply company and launched his fledging business. Simon coaxed then-truck driver Marcus Bokas Sr. [Marc Bokas’ father] to come work for him. Simon sold his Ford Fairlane and bought a 1954 Chevrolet with a powerglide transmission to double as a truck. He then installed a 10-ton Bucyrus Erie 50-foot boom-tracked crane and secured 25 tons of steel with a bank loan. Undaunted by Contractors Steel’s meager beginning, the two men sold and delivered small amounts of specialty steel to the city’s building subcontractors.

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Today, Contractors Steel ranks as the 37th largest metals service center in the United States selling and processing carbon steel wide-flange beams, plates, sheets, angles and channels. Its shops in Grand Rapids and Van Buren, Michigan, Twinsburg, Ohio, and Hammond, Indiana, perform oxy-fuel burning, sheet metal forming, sawing, rolling, laser cutting, grinding, cambering, splitting and leveling. These facilities run 24/7.

A humble start

“In the ’80s, we had an IT technician and software developers on staff,” recalls Bokas. “We had a great system but we reached a point where we no longer had employees with the skill sets to take the software to the next level or make repairs. We spent a year researching eight different ERP systems. In the final analysis, we felt Enmark’s product came closest to meeting our requirements.  We were also looking for a vendor that could evolve with us.”

According to Bokas, Contractors Steel handles many more processing functions than most competitors that service similar clients. “We perform a significant amount of processing such as long and flat product laser cutting, oxy and plasma fuel burning, along with sawing, structural and plate rolling, bending, machining, cambering and splitting,” Bokas notes. “The core of our business is our hot-rolled carbon products, which include beams, channels, angles, flats, plates, sheet, square and rectangular tubing and pipe.”

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The Michigan-based service center’s core product line is hot-rolled carbon steel products bracketed by a full complement of processing functions.

To get its feet wet with Eniteo, Contractors Steel decided to focus on administrative functions first. “It was a challenge implementing a fully-integrated software solution for the entire company,” says Kathy Tharp, Contractor Steel’s director of administration and human resources manager.  “But after several months of testing and training, we went live on Jan. 1, 2017, and haven’t looked back since.”

Goals for growth

Enmark set out in 1983 with the goal to help metal service centers like Contractors Steel enhance operations from top to bottom. It launched Eniteo in 2004 and now has more than 3,000 users in North America. Eniteo provides comprehensive support to both flat rolled and full-line service centers.

“It’s a complete software package for maintaining, processing and costing inventory accurately,” says Joe Fellwock, account manager for Enmark. “Eniteo saves hours of unnecessary work per week due to its ability to integrate and manage customer contact information, quote, order and financial history and provide fast order entry. Total integration of these and other features helps our customers recapture lost time and money.”

Enmark’s ongoing support helped Contractors Steel employees work through obstacles and adapt to Eniteo’s procedures and processes over the last six months.

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Support that included testing and training helped Contractors Steel employees adapt to Eniteo’s processes and procedures.

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“Prior to Eniteo, we had a separate software solution for accounting and the general ledger,” says Tharp. “We filed a tremendous amount of paper. We have already experienced greater efficiency and a significant reduction in paper with Eniteo’s integrated modules for purchasing, sales, shipping, receiving, billing and the general ledger. Its document-scanning capabilities also proved to be a big advantage.”

Contractors Steel is making progress toward applying Eniteo’s considerable “brain power” to the production side of the business. “Ultimately, we want to network our processing equipment and use software features like bar code scanning,” says Bokas. “It’s a matter of analyzing the market, seeing what we can do on a cost and time efficiency basis; what value-added services we can provide and then adding the equipment or, in this case, the software to make that happen.” Eniteo is also capable of providing a touch-screen shop floor and Microsoft Cloud access.

The service center’s upward trajectory is a path Enmark is mirroring. “As an ‘arm’ if you will, of Contractors Steel, we see Enmark as a key component of how we will grow our business,” Bokas notes.

As employees adapt to Eniteo’s functions, Tharp is enthusiastic about Enmark’s support team. “I cannot say enough about them; they are wonderful to work with.” MM

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