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word-cloud-2When Lenny Stahl started off at Dakota Storage Buildings LLC in Milbank, South Dakota, he says inventory and manufacturing control was backwards.

“When I came into this company, it was on QuickBooks and pen and paper. It was just…I couldn’t handle it,” he says. “I couldn’t function with that. Oops, all of a sudden you’re out of paint, then you go order it, and then you wait another week before it shows up.”

Stahl went into search mode to find a computer software system that would help the company manage inventory, manufacturing and accounting.

Stahl has been general manager, purchasing and sales, for 14 years.

“I was like let’s just get a system down here, let’s control inventory,” he says. “We’re manufacturing off of a different site three miles away. I’m like, I can’t have this telling me when you’re out of inventory. I need forewarned, aggressive thinking. The only thing that works is going to a full inventory control system with a manufacturing module to where every product that gets manufactured and out the door, it takes it out of inventory and warns me that I have cost, that it takes so much time to do it—the list goes on and on.”

When Bradley Kimberlin, president of Leland’s Industries LLC in Grandview, Texas, searched for software programs to help manage the business at the company, he looked for several key factors. These included ease of use, what reports and views can be seen, data, and the ability to scale and handle thousands of transactions.

Leland’s Industries builds about 2,000 sheds a year, according to Kimberlin. The company covers most of Texas in the “golden triangle” from Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston to San Antonio.

Leland’s uses an online job tracking system called ShedCloud.

“This is what we use to keep track of all jobs, get paperwork to drivers, show dealers the job status, etc.,” Kimberlin says.

Kimberlin says Leland’s uses QuickBooks for one of its manufacturing companies, but the program just doesn’t handle the volume that the company needs well.

“EBMS has been the best by far for raw material tracking, ability to create manufacturing batches, process POs, sales orders, invoices, P&L—just everything we need,” says Kimberlin.

Stahl says Dakota Storage Buildings manufactures backyard, portable storage buildings. The company sells about 80 percent of its sheds directly to the retail public. He says 20 to 25 percent of sales takes place through a dealer network.

“We make up to four or five different styles with many different siding options,” Stahl says. “It’s more a manufacturing environment.”

It’s in this environment that Dakota Storage Buildings makes use of Microsoft Dynamics GP, plus other programs, to manage inventory, sales, and other functions of its shed-building business.

According to Stahl, the company bought Microsoft Dynamics GP back in 2012, started implementing it through 2013, and went live two years ago.

“We were looking for a solid manufacturing module,” says Stahl. “We track our inventory, all our components. Also, every shed gets configured, so another thing we were looking for was a configurator, which is an add-on to Microsoft Dynamics. The product is called Experlogics, where you basically configure a shed. You select a size, you select options and it will configure it with rules and formulas, and you’ll end up with a material list and that will eventually get taken out of inventory. Then you also have raw costs as well.”

As Stahl explains the system, the company basically starts out with a purchasing module and an accounting module. For example, a user sets up inventory items where they issue purchase orders to vendors, and the materials come in and are received into inventory. When the materials come in, the invoice is matched up to the purchase order—and any discrepancies are dealt with.

“When it’s moved to accounts payable, then you pay your invoice,” says Stahl. “Then you have all of your inventory in.”

From that point, inventory gets sent out of a sales order processing window or a company can use raw inventory in the manufacturing module to basically make a bill of materials.

“Our bill of materials, for example, get configured in the software called Experlogics,” explains Stahl. “From there it writes it back into Microsoft Dynamics as a bill of material and then that gets allocated in a sense where this inventory is now spoken for this manufacturing order, and so on and so forth.”

Dakota Storage Buildings also uses a product called Google Sketchup. That program allows the company to create a 2-D drawing of how a shed is set up.

“It will also tell us how many windows, what size window, what color, what for floor option, what for flooring, what for shingle colors, and all that,” Stahl adds.

Currently, Dakota Storage Buildings only has five users on its management software system. For an example, Stahl says very few employees have access to the financial information. Some employees are limited to strictly sales order processing, depending on their job title.

“Like for example, our production manager has access to all the manufacturing modules to what order is currently being pulled what’s the order,” Stahl says. “Depending on their job description, they have access to what they need to do their job.”

In Stahl’s opinion, the system has helped the company tremendously. He used a different program before the current system, but it no longer worked for him.

“They had some similar features, but not as robust, not as a platform,” Stahl says. “When you go to a Microsoft- based product, you’re dealing with a multibillion dollar company where you have a solid, proven product. One aspect of what I really love about GP, it integrates with so many other third-party software programs, like our configurator, which we can set up to best meet our needs. For example, we have over 800 items where you write rules. If you select this, this can’t happen. If you select that, then this will be able to happen.

“I have yet to find a shed manufacturer that will go to the extent, the detail of tracking costs and running and managing inventory like we do. That system, I set my minimums and maximums. For example, depending on the item usage, it alerts me when I need to order. I issue out email purchase orders.”

When it comes to software, Stahl considers himself very aggressive and very progressive. He can’t just sit at the status quo and not look to see what’s out there.

“The more I go out and look, the more I’m satisfied with the decision we made,” he says. “If I were to go back and do it over again, I would, because simply I didn’t find any other solution out there that even attempted to cater to the shed industry.”

Kimberlin says that Leland’s also kept an eye on changing software packages.

“We have checked out options several times over the last three to five years and did some forays into online ERP software,” Kimberlin says. “The future is moving online, I think, but who will be able to provide the easiest to use system with affordability?”


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