Wichita Pipe & Supply, Wichita A/C Supply and Wichita Industrial Sales are mid-way through implementation of their new software solution — Inform ERP from DDI System. As members of industry-leading buying groups and associations including BLUE HAWK, Omni, NetPlus Alliance, DPA and HARDI, the distributors collectively chose DDI System due in part to their large client list and proven track record for success. Now, the businesses look to DDI to provide the foundation and tools needed to reach their goals in an increasingly digitized and competitive business environment.
Inform’s complete business management solution was designed specifically for wholesale distribution companies like Wichita Pipe & Supply (PVF), Wichita A/C Supply (HVAC) and Wichita Industrial Sales (Industrial). Inform streamlines functions throughout distributors’ operations to improve their performance across the board, enhance purchasing and warehouse practices, provide even better service to their customers, and help compete online amidst disruption.
By talking with peers around the country from the affiliated buying groups, DDI surfaced as a knowledgeable and industry-specific solution. “That was a huge advantage in getting started,” described Mike Wall of Wichita Pipe & Supply. “We trusted other buying group members to give us honest advice and share their experiences, both good and bad.” After meeting with several software providers, DDI stood out.
“We talked with them and they seemed like a perfect fit,” said Wall. “DDI did their homework when developing Inform. The software addresses virtually everything distributors like us need for our operations.”
Joe Raines of Wichita A/C added, “Inform ERP is specifically built for wholesalers in our industries. It provides the features and support that will make our companies more successful and profitable. We take great pride in the level of service our businesses provide customers — and we believe DDI puts that same value on service for theirs.”
A shared history — and future
Wichita Pipe was formed in 1992, followed by the A/C business in 2002 and Industrial in 2003. Each was launched with the goal of providing customers a locally owned business partner that understands and shares their values and the communities they serve. Their territory extends throughout a 300-mile radius from Wichita Falls, including customers in Dallas and Oklahoma City.
The distributors have long and intertwined roots — some even going back to grade school. “Many of the employees across our companies are family, have been friends for decades, or grew up together,” shared Joe Raines of Wichita A/C. “It’s a beautiful partnership.”
Barry Harper of Wichita Industrial added, “Our relationships with customers go back many years, too, long before we all went into business. That’s one of the reasons we are so dedicated to providing quality products and support that exceed our customers' expectations.”
“We are three separate companies, serving different sectors of the market,” Raines explained. “But we share many resources — such as delivery equipment, forklifts, computer servers, technology and purchasing power. It’s a competitive business environment, and we try to support each other while keeping our own identities and capitalizing on the markets each of us specialize in.”
Competitive marketplace challenges signal new opportunities
“When we started in 2002, software was not a big concern for us,” said Raines. “Inventories were small, vendors were few and we had a lot of time on our hands. Fifteen years later, all of that has changed. Inventories, personnel, and vendor and customer bases have grown, while the days seem to have become too short. Valuable information and productivity are key factors to ensuring our continued growth and success.”
It became evident in recent years that the changes occurring in distribution were just a hint of even more to come. The execs “realized that our problems, such as resisting change and lowering our expectations of productivity, were because of the software that we had been using,” says Raines.
Barry adds, “People often use the phrase ‘sales process,’ and that is very accurate when describing everything involved in purchasing our new software. It was probably even more true in our situation because we are three companies with our own operational processes. It was important that each of us lay out our critical needs and concerns, so we could identify the solution that would be the right fit for all three businesses.”
DDI’s Inform ERP Software met all of their criteria and much more. The execs believe it will provide the functionality and capability to continue growing their companies — and be an even better partner for their customers in the years to come.
“We’re in the beginning stages right now, and everyone is very excited about the future with DDI,” said Harper. “Our teams realize how limited they’ve been with our current software and believe Inform will help create new opportunities and further improve our level of service. We all expect great successes ahead!”