Formerly the office products division of Stanley Black & Decker, Amax holds exclusive rights to distribute office products under the Stanley Bostitch brand in the United States. The company sells to more than 800 retailers, including the largest national chains. When Amax spun out from its corporate parent, the company sought an ERP solution that was easy to implement and would help keep operations lean while supporting continued growth. Working with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner CAL Business Solutions, Amax implemented Microsoft Dynamics GP in just 12 weeks while managing other aspects of the spinout. The new solution provides employees with an unprecedented level of insight into business activities so that they can manage inventory, optimize sales performance, and process large volumes of work efficiently.
|Our customers were very impressed that we could implement a new ERP system in 12 weeks—and with zero interruption to our multimillion dollar business.|
General Manager, Amax
When Stanley Black & Decker decided to spin out its Stanley Bostitch office products division, the small team of employees tasked with launching the new entity faced an incredible challenge. They needed to keep the multimillion dollar business running while setting up new business management systems and distribution operations—and complete it in just a few months. A Taiwan-based manufacturer purchased the division, named it Amax, and retained exclusive rights to sell office products under the Stanley Bostitch name in the United States. Amax puts Stanley Bostitch staplers, pencil sharpeners, hole punchers, and home and office hand tools on the shelves of more than 800 retailers, including the largest national chains.
“Coming from a Fortune 500 company, we had been using a mix of legacy systems,” says Gary Blanchette, General Manager at Amax. “After we were spun out, we knew we needed a world-class management software solution. We wanted an ERP solution that would help us grow our business while keeping our global operations as lean as possible.”
The immediate challenge facing the Amax team was finding and implementing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system in fewer than six months. At the same time, Amax had to keep operations running, set up two new distribution centers and renegotiate a multiyear contract with one of its largest customers.Solution
Amax focused its software search on a few vendors. “Because we lack significant resources for large IT projects, we needed a solution that we could implement quickly by using out-of-the-box functionality. We also sought a solution that had a low learning curve and could handle volumes commensurate with our annual sales,” says Blanchette. “We looked at SAP Business One, NetSuite, and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Based on advice we had from our former colleagues at Stanley Black & Decker who had experience with those systems, and what we saw from CAL Business Solutions, we decided that Microsoft Dynamics GP would fit our needs best.”
Amax worked with CAL Business Solutions to outline a strenuous 12-week implementation plan that coincided with setting up new distribution operations with a third-party logistics provider. “Our number one goal for the implementation was to make it seamless for our customers,” says Blanchette. “After hearing of our plans, some of our largest customers expressed concern that we could make the move in 12 weeks without disruption.”
Dividing the work, teams at Amax, Stanley Black & Decker, and CAL Business Solutions set up Microsoft Dynamics GP to support the new business, including implementing add-ins such as vSync for electronic data interchange (EDI) orders from large retailers and SalesPad for sales and customer service. The project team migrated two years’ worth of sales history to the new system, along with pricing and contract details for each of the company’s 800 customers. To minimize internal IT resource requirements, Amax set up the software at a local hosting provider; employees, including outside sales representatives who travel frequently and international team members, access the solution through terminal services.
“The hosted solution reduced our upfront costs and helped us get up and running faster,” says Blanchette. “And, it offers tremendous flexibility because we can access the system from anywhere in the world.”
Amax relied heavily on out-of-the-box functionality in Microsoft Dynamics GP to accomplish a rapid implementation in just 12 weeks, according to plan. “We were still looking for a CFO at the time, and usually that person is heavily involved in setting up the financial management tools,” says Blanchette. “Coming from a marketing and sales background, I filled in as best as I could, but the structure and built-in functionality in Microsoft Dynamics GP made everything pretty easy to understand.”Benefits
Amax set up its sales, operations, and financial management in Microsoft Dynamics GP to help the company’s global team of employees simplify operational management and focus more resources on growth initiatives.Deep Financial Insight
Besides sharing information broadly, Amax employees use Microsoft Dynamics GP to dig deep into sales data, inventory, and other metrics. The collections module in the solution helped Amax reduce day-sales outstanding by more than 20 days to a new record low, which translates to significantly improved cash flow for the company. “With Microsoft Dynamics GP, I have the insight I need to optimize our financial management,” says Brian Leroux, Director of Finance and Accounting for Amax. “For example, I can protect our margins against inflationary pressures by looking at our inventory from different perspectives—not just on a unit basis, but the true cost according to the date we received it.”
When AMAX sales representatives go into customer meetings, they are prepared with the very latest sales performance statistics. “Some of our customers lack the information that we can provide,” says Joe DeRita, Director of Channel Management at Amax. “With Microsoft Dynamics GP, we can show our customers real-time analysis that supports our sales proposition, whether it is a new promotion, product mix suggestions, or our position in pricing negotiations.” Easy Implementation
With a lean team of non-IT professionals, and while handling other aspects of the spinout, Amax set up its new business with Microsoft Dynamics GP quickly and without interruption. “Our customers were very impressed that we could implement a new ERP system in 12 weeks—and with zero interruption to our multimillion dollar business,” says Blanchette. “Part of the success was due to the experience of our partner and our project managers, but the straightforward design and structure of Microsoft Dynamics GP also played an important role.”Lean Operation
Maintaining a lean operational and IT support team is a key goal for Amax. “Our aim is to scale our business without adding unnecessary overhead, and Microsoft Dynamics GP helps us do that,” says Blanchette. “By making our company easier to manage, we can put more resources in areas that will grow the business, such as product development and sales.”360-Degree Visibility
Amax employees now enjoy unprecedented insight into their business with Microsoft Dynamics GP. “Everyone can see new purchase orders and when shipments are due in our warehouse,” says Leroux. “When our accounts receivables clerk enters a note in the collections module, that information is immediately available to sales representatives. This type of visibility helps employees in all roles increase profitability and customer satisfaction. It’s a stark contrast to when we were a division of Stanley Black & Decker, where we commonly had to access four systems to get a complete picture of what was going on.”