A family-owned business stretching back three generations, Timberfix is a leading supplier of construction industry products. Over the years Timberfix has built a solid reputation for top quality products, competitive pricing, superb customer service and speedy and reliable deliveries. Located in the Central Tablelands city of Lithgow NSW, Timberfix services Sydney and regional New South Wales.
Timberfix General Manager Oliver Clark joined the company in 2008. For several years after his arrival Timberfix enjoyed strategic growth of over 30% per annum This growth was largely driven by the company’s shift from supplying local trade stores to supplying direct to construction sites
When any business grows at such a rate, information systems that support the business can come under strain. That’s what happened at Timberfix.
Until 2015 Timberfix had relied on one of Australia’s most popular accounting systems to meet its financial management needs. But as the company grew the system struggled to keep up with increased demands, particularly with regards to customer pricing, which their existing system couldn’t properly manage.
Oliver explains: “Our business significantly increased when we targeted Sydney’s construction sector, and it was then that it became clear that we had outgrown our business management system. What we needed was a solution that could scale with us and, in particular, address our increasingly complex special pricing requirements.”
If Jiwa were not so flexible and scalable, an integration with our dispatch and tracking system would not have been possible.
Oliver was introduced to Jiwa through word of mouth, and was recommended to him because of the solution’s power, flexibility and affordability. But it was Jiwa’s customer pricing capabilities that sealed the deal.
“Our previous system could handle, at a basic level, up to seven pricing structures, but that wasn’t nearly enough for us anymore”, he said. “We have different pricing structures for builders, glaziers and several other categories of customer. There are discounts that apply to some customers but not others, but the constraints with that system resulted in us giving markdowns to customers who didn’t require a discount.”
The flexibility of Jiwa solved that problem for Timberfix while helping to fuel the company’s growth trajectory.
Says Oliver: “Jiwa has proven very adaptable, allowing us to create as many pricing structures as we want and in a variety of ways. We can divide pricing up by customer, by customer category or by product, by product category or we can get more specific and set up a structure where we offer one customer a discount on one product for a defined period of time, for example a month. The big advantage of this capability is that it enables us to grow our business without having to put on additional staff dedicated solely to pricing.”
The best type of ERP solution is one that not only addresses a wide range of business management needs right out of the box, but also has the capacity to accommodate a variety of customisations. In collaboration with Attkey, one of Jiwa’s Sydney-based Solution Providers, Timberfix has made a number of additions to the system, including one designed to protect the company’s Jiwa users from their own mistakes.
“When you key in a purchase order in Jiwa, up pops one save button and one cancel button”, said Oliver. “There’s been times when I’ve been working at high speed and have accidentally hit cancel, which wipes out the entire order. After discovering that others at Timberfix have made the same mistake we reached out to Attkey for a fix. They created for us a dialog box that asks ‘Are you sure you want to cancel?’ Although it’s a fairly basic customisation it’s one that has saved us a lot of wasted time and given us peace of mind. I’m very pleased that Jiwa can so easily be tweaked for things like that.”
One of Timberfix’ current projects is a transport management system called Transfocus. On any given day Timberfix has up to 20 trucks on the road delivering orders; Transfocus manages the dispatch and tracking of goods from Timberfix’s headquarters to their drop-off locations. Rather than operate as two disparate systems, Oliver wanted Transfocus and Jiwa to work together, so that sales order data, such as customer names and addresses, can be extracted from Jiwa and fed into Transfocus. Attkey was up to the task, successfully integrating the two systems.
Oliver commented: “Jiwa stores all the information that is useful to our Transfocus-driven business processes, and vice versa. Attkey told us they could write some code that will enable us to extract key information out of Jiwa and into Transfocus, and that’s just what they did. When one of our drivers fulfils an order, the driver takes a photo of that item, gets the customer’s signature and when they hit finish, that information is fed back into Transfocus and then automatically transmitted to the relevant spots in Jiwa. The integration of the two systems has made a big difference to the way we operate, boosting efficiency and saving time that otherwise be spent re-keying data. If Jiwa were not so flexible and scalable this would not have been possible.”
Timberfix enters more than 400 customer orders in Jiwa a day, all of which need to be printed off prior to the dispatch of goods. Staff can occasionally get distracted and fail to print out an order, which is a problem the company wanted to fix. Again up stepped the team at Attkey, who created a report especially for Timberfix which identifies any unprinted orders over the course of a day.
“We pride ourselves on excellent customer service and when an order doesn’t get printed it poses a risk that the customer won’t receive their goods in time”, said Oliver. “Again the flexibility of Jiwa, along with Attkey’s help, put a stop to this – it’s a customisation that not only saves us time and money but also helps us maintain superb customer satisfaction.”
Into the Future
Timberfix is not a business to rest on its laurels; continued growth is inscribed in the company’s DNA. To that end Timberfix will soon be embarking on its most ambitious initiative yet – the installation of a $750,000 powered roller conveyor system (not unlike the system that drives distribution and logistics for online retail powerhouse Amazon). Timberfix will be dividing its warehouse into six areas to create a state of the art item handling system that will take distribution to the next level. Jiwa is set to play a key role in the management of the new operation.
“Our new conveyor system represents a major investment for Timberfix”, said Oliver. “Jiwa will be driving the complete warehousing and inventory management and distribution process, so we need to be sure it can deliver. Having spent a few years with Jiwa, testing out what it’s capable of, we’re confident it will perform to expectations. In fact we would not have taken on the project if we didn’t think Jiwa could play a strong supporting role.”
To further support the company’s steady growth Timberfix recently created the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The occupant of the new role has been undergoing training from Attkey on the Jiwa system. Oliver said: “Our CFO found the training from Attkey to be very comprehensive and easy to grasp. After working with the system she identified areas that could benefit from improvements such as a more comprehensive asset register and depreciation chart. Again in collaboration with Attkey we will add this functionality to the system, which will enable us to report more accurately on the company’s financial position at any given point.”
At Timberfix Jiwa has proven itself as a flexible and scalable Enterprise Resource Planning system, ready to meet whatever challenge the company throws at it. As a manager who believes that technology should be exploited to its full potential, Oliver has steadily built on Jiwa’s strengths to create a future-proof solution for his thriving construction supplies company.