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File photo by Joe Wojcik

Buck Helfferich, president of Accrotool Inc., said his employees bought into a software upgrade once they could see the benefits.

At Accrotool, the amount of information and number of emails being exchanged within the company, between the company and vendors, and the company and customers, was becoming unwieldy.

To tackle the problem, President and Chief Operating Officer Buck Helfferich embraced more technology — document control and customer relationship management software called Exact Synergy.

One of the software's basic functions is easily creating a customer quote request from an email and putting it into a dashboard for the estimators, then anyone else through the process.

“It eliminates the internal emails and (boosts) the speed and ability for everyone to see what is happening,” Helfferich said.

The company installed the software about a year ago and, since then, the company is running at a higher sales level but has dropped management overhead by 20 percent. The firm also has 99 percent on-time delivery.

“It had that kind of an impact. It was getting the quotes done and getting the jobs done quickly,” Helfferich said. “Do it once, do it right and everyone can see it.”

Because the system is Web-based, employees can log in from anywhere and see if there is going to be a delivery problem or approve a quote, he said.

Adding this new tool to Accrotool, which has been around since 1972, wasn't easy. It took dedication and buy-in from all the top management, Helfferich said. The changes happened regardless of employees understanding the “why,” but, once the staff saw it would save them time, they got it, he said.

“At one point, I had everyone complaining to me,” Helfferich said. “It was in the beginning; before we got the plane off the runway, it shuddered.”

But with some training for people who were not as familiar working with PCs, the company was able to overcome the learning curve.

Jim Marsilio, director of business development for Catalyst Connection, a nonprofit that works with manufacturers on competitiveness, praised Accrotool for successfully implementing the software system and noted installing systems such as this are frequently difficult.

Accrotool, Inc.

Engineered metal products contact manufacturer

  • Based: New Kensington
  • Founded: 1972
  • Employees: 110
  • Revenue: $15 million
  • Website: www.accrotool.com
  • Challenge: Staying on top of the volume of information exchanged within the company and between the company and customers.
  • Solution: Invest in software to tie all the information together and make it accessible to everyone.

Once a company determines its needs and identifies a system to install, Marsilio said its imperative a company have strong in-house talent to see the project through or, as was the case with Accrotool, work with someone who has the skill for successful implementation.

“That is where clients have the most difficulty,” Marsilio said. “The greatest opportunity for failure is implementation.”

He noted that taking advantage of the business software, whether it's an Enterprise Resource Planning system or some other software suite, is what separates growth companies from the pack.

“(For) proactive companies with management operating under best practices, you have to have proper software support to run your business nowadays,” he said.

About Accrotool

Accrotool, Inc. is a full-service contract manufacturer of engineered metal products used in defense, industrial, instrumentation, medical & safety equipment and transportation applications. The company's design and production capabilities allow Accrotool, an ISO 9001:2008-certified company, to offer CNC machining, custom metal fabrication, finishing, full assembly, laser processing, metal stamping, powder coat painting, silk screening & decal application, precision tool & die components, and specialized welding for producing brackets, bus bars, chassis, enclosures, fixtures, panels, stamping dies, stampings and sub-assemblies. Accrotool is located in New Kensington, PA, near Pittsburgh, and has been in business since 1972.

For more information, contact Buck Helfferich at 724-339-3560, e-mail bhelfferich@accrotool.com