PW Saddington & Sons

Sterland and ProStix supply the building blocks for cost savings and business efficiencies for PW Saddington & Sons

PW Saddington & Sons Pty Ltd has been the builder’s and tradesman’s choice for building supplies in the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales since 1921.

Today they supply a huge range of construction products for commercial and domestic sites including landscaping, civil drainage, reinforcing steel, sand & soil, timber, garage doors & automatic gates and general building hardware.

Family owned and operated, Saddington’s employs 140 people across four locations. Their solid reputation and success in the region is underpinned by their breadth and range of products, as well as experienced staff committed to excellent service and advice.

A need for greater transparency and improved reporting

Saddingtons began to re-evaluate their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system when they received news that their current solution was being phased out. Anthony Saddington, the great grandson of PW Saddington who originally founded the company, has been in the role of General Manager for the past six years. He explains, “Microsoft had bought our existing supplier, System 77. They were encouraging us to move to Microsoft Dynamics, however we had a number of concerns with this option.”

Anthony continues, “Microsoft Dynamics is built to run everything from a fish and chip shop to a fortune 500 company and we didn’t think that was going to work for us. We are too big to use a solution such as MYOB and we also felt we needed a more tailored system for the building industry.”

“We required a functioning ERP system that we could adapt to our industry with minimum fuss.”

Anthony describes other requirements he was seeking in a new ERP system. “We needed a system that would run our entire business with flexibility, across our wide range of products and divisions. Beyond that we wanted to take advantage of recent modernisations that offered us greater efficiencies in our business. Increased transparency and improved reporting were also important to provide me with more control over our operations.”

A tailored solution for the building industry

Saddington’s evaluation of a range of suppliers and software options available was extensive. Anthony explains, “We looked at numerous options in terms of who best to go with and narrowed it down to ProStix and one other.

“It was Sterland’s industry strength and their ability to tailor the ProStix software to our industry that got them over the line.”

“We first heard about ProStix through a buying group, called NatBuild, which has 37 of Australia’s leading building suppliers as members. Many of the members recommended a supplier called Sterland and the system ProStix. It is heavily used by members who are very similar to ourselves and this gave us the confidence it would work.”

With origins in the building supply industry dating as far back as the late 1800’s, Sterland has been offering smart software solutions tailored to those in the building industry for the last 25 years. Anthony describes the two aspects that convinced them to choose Sterland and ProStix over other competitors. “Sterland has the industry knowledge, so they are able to tailor the program to our business. As well as this we had the advantage that the product was already adapted specifically to suit the building industry.”

Prior to making their final decision, Saddington’s visited sites where the software was already in place, looked at installed systems and talked to users and customers in-depth. Anthony explains, “It was obvious that Sterland understood our industry. They displayed a knowledge of our concerns and issues. The sales process was very fact based and open – they took us to sites and let us meet users – there was no pressure.”

An easy-to-use solution eases the transition

After making the decision to go with Sterland and ProStix in late 2009, Sterland worked with Saddington’s to tailor the system to cater for their wide range of products. Anthony explains, “Sterland developed a booking and service management system specifically for the roller door division of our business that links to our main system. This is a somewhat ‘out of left field’ for the ProStix product and is a testament to Sterland that they are able to offer this level of customisation.”

“We have a lot of employees that aren’t tech savvy, who can’t send an email, but they can get through our new ProStix system.”

ProStix has been in operation at Saddington’s for six months. It utilises Progress Software’s OpenEdge V10.1c in a GUI, Windows based environment and comprises of a single database, across 5 sites and 49 users. The Progress Software OpenEdge architecture enables Sterland to rapidly develop and deploy leading edge business applications. Sterland were able to quickly interpret Saddington’s requirements and with minimal coding create the new booking system.

Anthony describes the implementation process. “Implementation was as expected. Staff dislike change of any variety and it’s been a difficult transition for them, especially given our last system was in place for 20 years. They’ve had to learn a new system on the job while carrying out their usual day to day work. Fortunately Sterland have been very helpful during the implementation process.”

The potential for cost savings and improved efficiency

Although the new ProStix system has only been in operation for six months Anthony can already see the benefits to the business. He comments, “We are now starting to receive feedback from staff that ProStix is saving them a great deal of time, which is very positive. Added functionality such as the ability to email customer statements is among these.

“There is potential for cost savings, greater transparency and control of the business.”

“From a service perspective, it was our intention that our valued customers would remain unaffected. To our knowledge, they are none the wiser that we’ve just gone through a significant change to our systems – other than the invoicing appears different.”

Anthony continues; “It is only early days and we are still working our way around ProStix, but we are beginning to see the benefits. Much of the business used to be paper based, so ProStix will give us greater control over stock and tighten up the process for us. From a management perspective, ProStix should hopefully let me run the business more efficiently, as well as make more effective use of our accountant’s and manager’s time.”

A dedicated approach to service

Post implementation, Anthony continues to speak highly of Sterland’s level of service and the sales process. He comments, “What the sales team committed to, they actually backed up. When you sell a program you don’t always fully understand the intricacies of the business and the time it may take. I believe there were some things that were underestimated in terms of the difficulty to deliver, but that didn’t actually stop them delivering. They committed to what had been agreed to and worked it out from their end.”

ProStix will continue to grow to better service the Building Supplies market. As Greg Thomas, CEO of Sterland explains “We are continuing to extend the functional breadth of ProStix to meet the changing needs of the Building Supplies market place. Utilising the power of OpenEdge and incorporating new and evolving Progress Software technologies like Business Process Management and messaging technologies, we can react rapidly and cost effectively to market conditions benefiting our customers and our business.”

An ERP system for now and into the future

Looking to the future, Anthony explains that Saddington’s have recently purchased another business which they will be merging into their current operations. He comments, “Sterland will be helping us with the integration process and in bringing them onto our ProStix system, as well as any further customisation or improvements we may need in the future.”

“Sterland are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to our industry and they were able to deliver what they committed to.”

In terms of other building suppliers who may be looking for a new ERP system, Anthony concludes, “Sterland and ProStix should definitely be on the short list and I’d encourage people to investigate it thoroughly.”