Kiwi joinery business gets ERP fit out and douses the midnight oil

Published on the 12/02/2010 | Written by Epicor Software Corporation

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  • Shears & Mac4


  • Manufacturing


  • Manual data entry and duplication of work hindered growth
  • Disconnected applications and spreadsheets
  • Timely invoicing process


  • Epicor ERP


  • Advanced ERP solution supporting an aggressive growth strategy
  • Automated processes leading to greater efficiencies
  • Increased turnover


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Joinery manufacturer, Shears & Mac4, take on larger clients, improve profits and plan further expansion with Epicor ERP...

Shears & Mac4 is one of New Zealand’s leading joinery manufacturers. Based in Auckland, the company provides furniture and fittings for residential, commercial and retail clients including Farmers Trading Company, Cotton On, Bendon, Sunglass Hut, Cue & Veronika Maine and Borders Bookstores among its clientele…

The company offers design, manufacturing, assembly and installation services and operates in Australia and New Zealand, priding itself on its use of technology to create an excellent product.

In recent years, the Shears & Mac4 has acquired another joinery company and expanded its staff and rapid expansion creates a need for efficiency.

The expansion and increased success enjoyed by the company had not come without pain. Indeed, in 2002 the company ran many of its most important business processes using only a spreadsheet.

“Our previous system comprised multiple disconnected applications and spreadsheets which caused duplication of work and introduced opportunities for mistakes,” says Chris Stafford-Bush, Managing Director, Shears & Mac4. This arrangement created many problems for the company.

“Timely deliveries were a problem,” Stafford-Bush recalls.

“Invoicing was a major blip at month-end and the team often worked past midnight to get them out.”

Other processes were also inefficient. Costing was also performed using spreadsheets, which was slow and required re-entry of data into a jobbing system. Payroll data was also collected manually and re-keyed.

With the business growing and increasingly working for large international brands, Stafford-Bush realised that these systems would not permit the company to continue growing and that its commitment to technology was only being delivered on the shop floor, with the back office lagging.

“We have a high quality product,” Stafford-Bush says. “We have invested in technology to ensure that we can deliver on time and do the other things that are crucial for shop fit outs. But I also needed more time to manage the business and that could only be achieved if routine tasks were automated in an environment where a single instance of data entry would travel through the entire system,” he says.

“It is okay to run on spreadsheets with one or two customers but by the time we saw we could be working with seven or eight large retails clients, we knew we would require much greater internal disciplines.”

The company credits Epicor ERP with creating the repeatable and consistent processes and smoothly-operating back office that has enabled its growth.

Swift and accurate invoices
One way in which Epicor ERP has helped the company grow is its improved invoicing process. “A job is invoiced as soon as it has been completed, with actual costs and margins up–to–date,” Stafford-Bush says.

That has become possible, in part, thanks to new time sheet features enabled by Epicor ERP which let the company enter the time they spend on each job in real time, as they work.

Improved supplier integration and costing
Another cluster of benefits has come from the ability to re-use information about previous jobs the company has performed.

“Quoting and costing is also very quick. We just copy an old job and make small adjustments.”

“After our first job for a new client we are making versions on a theme, usually the same but differently sized. Epicor ERP means we can copy across the plan from previous jobs so quoting is very quick, and we can quickly see if we need to order in components for the new job. “This means we can predict our lead times and understand the capacity of each production step so we give the customer an accurate first promise delivery date.”

This new sophistication also makes it easier to work with suppliers and partners as the company now treats subcontractors and the good they offer as suppliers. “We order components to be delivered at the time we need them,” Stafford-Bush says. “They are just another part number and another supplier for the Epicor ERP application.”

A more proactive business
Shears & Mac4 believe it is now a more proactive business, thanks to the information and processes available in its Epicor ERP systems.

“We can be proactive with our clients and drive them rather than they drive us,” Stafford-Bush enthuses. “Each week, we produce a report and email it to each customer showing their jobs, the scheduled delivery date and what date they were shipped, invoiced etc. This provides our large retail chain customers with confidence.”

The Future
“We want to grow the business to $NZ20 million turnover,” Stafford-Bush says, with this goal to be reached by expanding its offerings into a complete shop fitting service.

“We have already purchased an extra Epicor ERP user licence and will be purchasing more in the future. Now we are ready for jobs a week before delivery date. We have our materials here in advance. We know our lead times and we do not waste time on administration”.

“Epicor ERP has made all that possible and we expect it will make our planned expansion possible too.”


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