Success Story

McCordick Glove and Safety

McCordick Glove and Safety

How EDI with LBMX has McCordick covered for big growth

If a worker needs protective safety gear, we've got them covered. Literally - from head to toe. That's how Lajos Guta, Director of Operations for McCordick Glove and Safety, describes what the 35-year old company does.

From hardhats and vests, to boots and gloves, they are a Cambridge, Ontariobased division of Bunzl Canada Inc. that distributes personal protective equipment for retailers and industries of all kinds throughout Canada and the U.S.

While they distribute national brands, their own brand, Workhorse, is sold in hundreds of retail locations and worn by thousands of industry manufacturing employees. "Our goal," Guta says, "is to make the worker as safe as possible."

With a solid reputation and brand in the marketplace, McCordick was experiencing a consistent increase in business - an increase that would exceed their EDI grasp and force their hand to find a reliable, stable solution that could become a foundation for growth.

This is the story of their journey to EDI with LBMX.

Where they were - Before EDI with LBMX

In the early 2000s, an increasing number of McCordick's customers were pointing to EDI as a new means of doing business with them; a harbinger of things to come, according to Guta. "We might not have paid much attention to the first one, but the second one was a different story. Then a third, a fourth... We knew this was coming, so we took it seriously."

McCordick Glove and Safety

When customers talk, smart companies listen. McCordick was no exception. In 2002 they waded into the EDI waters, purchased their own translation software, hired a skilled individual and brought it all in-house. Within a year, McCordick was trading documents with four customers and handling nearly 120 invoices a day. A far cry from the manual process that saw one employee spending 60% of her time processing documents from one manufacturer, with a peak of 180 daily invoices - enough to make any head of Operations cringe.

Things were moving along nicely until they weren't. Fast forward to 2007. Business was growing, volume wasn't abating ("Customers don't want just one type of document in EDI, they want three or four"), and staff turnover prompted a fruitless search for another in-house expert who, a) wouldn't demand the now big EDI expert dollars and, b) wouldn't object to filling a customer service representative (CSR) role as well. McCordick knew there had to be a better, more cost effective, efficient way.

Making the Right Decision - Why EDI with LBMX

Considering the services of three EDI providers, McCordick weighed price, reputation and technical expertise. LBMX shone bright on all three, particularly the last point.

That they were already working with McCordick's customers put LBMX at the top of the list because it meant shorter lead times to get them to where they wanted to be. It was the team's reaction to the volume of documents McCordick was hoping to automate that Guta says sealed the deal. "Even when we told them the volume - 25 unique maps, six different document types spread across 12 customers - they didn't bat an eye. Just a 'No problem,' and then a reasonable proposal on price and timelines."

If McCordick's confidence in choosing LBMX as their EDI provider was boosted as they moved through the 3-month implementation process, it was solidified once the system was up and running. For proof, look no further than LBMX's participation in a post-EDI conference call - at the invitation of McCordick - with a large North American retailer. LBMX's technical and business expertise brought to light an issue with the retailer's own document mapping that caused ongoing pricing discrepancy headaches. That same expertise helped McCordick find an EDI-based workaround solution.

"They don't cut it off at EDI analysis. LBMX has worked with us on business and work flow analyses, and helped us find ways to run our company."

Times like these showed the McCordick team and Guta first-hand LBMX's commitment to their customers' success, and how they are prepared to go above and beyond: "They don't cut it off at EDI analysis. LBMX has worked with us on business and work flow analyses, and helped us find ways to run our company. They've proven themselves to be a business partner, not just a technology partner."

The Solution

"Any vendor selling goods to large corporate or retail customers must meet their vast EDI requirements just to do business with them," explains Tom Jones, Director of E-Business at LBMX and McCordick's project lead. "If you can't send EDI files that are timely, accurate and conform to the receiver's specific business requirements, you will lose your status as a vendor." LBMX's EDI team studied each of McCordick's trading partners' EDI and business requirements and created unique data maps for each relationship. Every file uploaded from McCordick is sent through a translation process that creates outbound files perfectly conformed to the needs of the receivers.

McCordick Glove and Safety

The same thing happens on the inbound side. Customers send purchase orders in the file format they choose. LBMX's translation protocol does the heavy lifting and delivers consistent files that are imported into McCordick's system.

Along the way, LBMX handles an intricate series of checks and balances to ensure EDI documents were delivered. "We manage all of the documents sent and received to ensure they are properly acknowledged," says Jones.

He goes on to explain how LBMX acts as McCordick's ongoing EDI experts, and that includes being the face of the organization when a trading partner calls with a technology issue. "If there's a change in their EDI requirements, we meet with them to understand the changes, implement and test them. McCordick doesn't have to do a thing."

All of which leaves Guta and his team free to focus on what they do best - distributing a great line of safety products.

Where they are now - After EDI with LBMX

Nearly six years into running their business on EDI with LBMX, McCordick has 23 separate trading partners in their database (up from the original, pre-LBMX 12), and is trading 11,000 documents monthly, drawing from 12 different types (up from six). They are reaping the benefits in two key areas and one unexpected place as well.

Operational efficiencies are the biggest boon. New customer information and documents are integrated into their sales systems in a fifth of the time it used to take, and staff turnover no longer means a search for talent since the technical expertise lies with LBMX, "where it should be," says Guta.

EDI with LBMX has also fortified some weak business practices. As an example, because of its ability to talk to McCordick's existing back-end ERP, EDI uncovered the root cause of a process that required CSRs to continuously correct pricing in their front end order system, and call customers to explain why the price was different than expected. "We learned our team wasn't maintaining our back-end ERP pricing records correctly," explains Guta. "CSRs would change the price, tell no one and fix the problem temporarily. Because EDI with LBMX talks to our system, we were able to uncover the cause of this operational issue." Now, McCordick's price and product lists are accurate, reliable and stable.

The system has been a godsend to Guta in his role as head of Operations, as well. While their own efforts were commendable, there were a number of weak links in their EDI chain, the primary one being limited technical expertise. A single minor change in one document's mapping would impact hundreds of others, and force a needle-in-a-haystack hunt to repair and debug, putting a dead stop on customer mail-outs. None of which pleased the finance team who wondered why, as an example, invoices to otherwise prompt-paying customers were unpaid. Thanks to EDI, Guta doesn't "lose sleep any more wondering if invoices will be sent out."

Following closely behind operational efficiencies is an improved customer experience and perception. With the proper infrastructure in place to support their international distribution network, Guta points out how because LBMX gives them access to the latest technology, they can keep up with customers who make similar investments. Any customer with their own EDI platform who sees it as essential to smooth-running operations views McCordick as a like-minded business partner equally committed to efficiencies of time and accuracy.

"Potential large customers quickly learn that we can handle an influx of orders and will do what we say we will - deliver the product they want, when they want it."

They're also experiencing a sales upshot as well, something that wasn't on their radar when weighing the return on their investment. Including EDI in sales pitches to potential new customers has become yet another benefit of doing business with McCordick. "EDI is our number one salesperson and customer service representative," shares Guta. "Potential large customers quickly learn that we can handle an influx of orders and will do what we say we will - deliver the product they want, when they want it."

With plans to expand their business considerably in the next five years, Guta notes that EDI's scalability will be a key factor in McCordick's future success. "We now have the infrastructure in place to handle the tremendous growth we are targeting. No question."

To Jones and LBMX, McCordick is a great example of a client who saw the future of business, knew their strengths and where they should focus their attention - hence the strategic move to outsource their EDI. "It's been a great partnership! We have a great working relationship with McCordick, where we both understand and respect the roles in making their EDI partnership a success."

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