ERP System Provides Big Savings for Fan Manufacturer
Big Ass Solutions first made its mark selling massive ceiling fans that spun slowly, but moved astounding amounts of air thanks to their aerodynamic design. The fans kept large spaces that lacked air conditioning, such as factories and dairy barns, feeling cool and comfortable. Recently, the company also began offering LED lighting fixtures and residential fans.
A powerful and effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is essential for running the company’s manufacturing operations. “It’s only a ceiling fan, but it’s a very complex product,” says Bill Nall, chief information officer at Big Ass Solutions. “That drives a lot of complexity on the bill of materials and how all those parts come together on the factory floor. That’s where I think technology is critical, because you can’t manage that level of complexity without having a tight ERP system.”
Big Ass Solutions’ first ERP system promised scalability, but that turned out not to be the case. A decade ago, when Big Ass Solutions was making around $10 million in revenue, the company soon found itself pushing the upper limits of its ERP system. “I remember [the software vendor] saying, ‘Even if you get as big as $25 million [in revenue] we’ll be able to help you,’” recalls Carey Smith, the company’s CEO.
With the company’s innovative fan designs quickly catching on in the market, it was clear that Big Ass Solutions was going to need a new ERP system. After an extensive search, the company landed on Epicor ERP, which has proven capable of growing alongside the company.
The company has achieved aggressive growth rates thanks in part to continuously re-evaluating its processes and products. “We have grown since 2008 at a rate of about 30 percent a year every single year. We do that by developing new products, by continually developing and reorganizing the company, and the way in which we do business,” Smith adds.
The company operates assembly plants around the world, so the ability for all of them to stay connected is paramount. It all starts with order fulfillment and planning. Big Ass Solutions plans production well in advance to meet the customer’s expectation. “A good ERP system is huge from the standpoint of being able to take all of the demand, all of the sales orders, and tie everything together,” says Greg Finley, production manager. “Epicor ERP literally ties our company together from beginning to end, all the way to shipping product to customers in a timely manner.”
Big Ass Solutions is no stranger to the biggest challenges in manufacturing: reducing costs, maximizing inventory, and meeting fluctuating demand. However, where it sets itself apart is how deep it goes into the data provided by the Epicor ERP system to grow its business through procurement. Whether it’s leveraging existing vendor data for better rates on materials or identifying new business opportunities, using the business intelligence data provided by the software is at the forefront of the company’s growth goals.
“One thing that’s most important…as we’ve grown is the fact we’re able to have more analytics, more vision on the company and on the parts,” says Smith. “To take advantage of new opportunities, you have to have business intelligence. We think that the ERP system from Epicor is a major component—all of our analytics are built on that. It’s very important for us, because we can’t tell what opportunities we can avail ourselves of if we don’t have the figures. If we can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist.”
Looking back at switching from the ERP system that was struggling with a $25 million revenue company, Carey says: “From a customer perspective, talking to a supplier I feel honesty is important, and we’re very pleased with the way it’s worked out. Now it’s been 10 years later, and [Epicor ERP] is still working. It’s great. We’ve been able to grow into a $300 million company by investing in software that allows us to reach our customers, and control our inventory and production. I can’t imagine how this could have been done without having a very robust software system and partner, like Epicor.”
For more information on lighting and fans for factories and other buildings, call 877-BIG-FANS or visit www.bigassfans.com.
For more information on ERP software, call 800-999-1809 or visit www.epicor.com.