VP of Marketing and Technology, Midwest Wheel Companies, Inc.
Tech Optimization and Modernization
Midwest Wheel was founded in 1911 and is a fifth-generation family owned business headquartered in Des Moines with six locations in Iowa and Missouri. Midwest Wheel is one of the largest truck parts distributors in the Midwest carrying a full line of replacement heavy-duty fleet products, light truck accessories, light trailer products, commercial fleet parts, and school bus replacement parts.
Outdated technology prevents growth. Midwest Wheel is committed to building long-lasting relationships with its customers, so as its business continued to grow and the complexities of operations became challenging to manage, leadership understood that innovation was necessary. Midwest Wheel delivers to over 95% of its customers every single day, with a goal to provide that same availability for the other 5% of customers as well. In order to quickly scale and meet customer demand, Midwest Wheel needed a fully integrated system that could seamlessly manage inventory across its six warehouses, enable complex workflows and alerts, and facilitate more online business. But they didn’t want to create a technology bottleneck maintaining systems and updating software.
Midwest Wheel selected Infor CloudSuite Distribution to overcome the challenges it faced, moving core processes to the cloud allow for the next level of innovation. In addition to the core industry-specific capabilities that come out-of-the-box with CloudSuite Distribution, Midwest Wheel implemented modules such as Infor Total Warehouse Logistics (TWL) to meet its unique warehousing needs. Adding modern analytics with Infor's Birst for data driven decision making in the cloud; each of their sales team and management staff have a constant feed of where they are with key metrics on their PC/Phone/Tablet.
Taking a modern cloud approach to key systems allows the team to remain lean and innovate with new cloud enabled tools. Midwest Wheel has significantly reduced errors in all facets of its business. The system supports putting inventory in the right spot the first time, making picking parts and delivering to customers more efficient. “The fact that we’re not running around putting out fires anymore has made a huge impact on our productivity,” McEnany said.
A key benefit Midwest Wheel experienced is the ability to quickly identify issues. Infor OS workflow and alert capabilities provide real-time insights about situations and instructions on next steps. For example, the software has a workflow set up that helps identify all new customers, their orders, and determines if the prices match Midwest Wheel’s standards. Management is automatically notified, giving them visibility into operations with little effort required. Workflows have also helped reduce employee errors that cause inventory issues. Management is notified if certain actions are taken, which might indicate that corrective training is needed. This keeps Midwest Wheel’s staff accountable and gives management the visibility to quickly take corrective action if needed.
Midwest Wheel's cloud strategy innovates without creating points of failure in their organization, relying on Infor's cloud team for the core system support allows a small IT team to facilitate growth.
Midwest Wheel's focus on processes reduced picking errors more than 95%. They consider a missed sales opportunity an error, even if you can fill the order in a few days. Consistent product availability keeps the customers fleet on the road.
Tracking customer fill rates for products based on rank allows them to track A and B items that consistently fill at 99%, but also track C, D and E items shining a light on areas that need attention to improve service.
Overall Midwest Wheel fills more than 95% of customer orders in the first pull and uses a warehouse transfer system to complete the remaining orders in 24-48 hours for 98-99% of their product mix.
Infor CloudSuite Distribution, enterprise resource planning (ERP) - Quote and order mgt, inventory mgt, pricing optimization, financials, purchasing, and logistics from source to final destination. Infor Birst Enterprise - BI and analytics platform. Infor Storefront – ecommerce capabilities. Infor Cloud Suite Field Service - Service requests, parts availability, schedule optimization, and sales opportunities. Infor OS - Workflow and alerts, real-time insights, and next step instructions.
Midwest Wheel moved from a legacy character-based ERP to a modern html5 user interface hosted in the cloud with warehouse logistics and analytics in the past five years. Over 100 years of using a pencil and a piece of paper evolved into a modern business system with extensive tracking, logistics and product picking. The result not only transformed their business, it influences the entire Heavy Duty Truck Parts industry.
Steve and the entire Midwest Wheel team believe in learning new technology and implementing it on their own in as many aspects as possible. This is unique in the Heavy Duty Truck Parts industry. Midwest Wheel reaches outside the industry to share ideas and help grow together throughout the process. One thing is clear - all distribution organizations are looking for innovative ways to move forward and the sharing of ideas drives their business.
Midwest Wheel is positioning themselves to be agile and take advantage of new innovations such as AI and ML pivoting into the next 100 years. Never needing to perform upgrades in the conventional sense and maintaining a thirst for innovation is a distinct competitive differentiator in what some would be considered a legacy industry.
Our sales team found they were reprinting lost invoices for customers on a regular basis. A typical customer might request several individual invoices each month. Imagine having the technology in the Infor OS system to call an API to pull the list of invoices still open and call it again to reprint the list of invoices with one click. Things that can save users hours of work per month without custom modification. That is exactly why Infor's CloudSuite is a success for our team.
About Midwest Wheel Companies, Inc.
Midwest Wheel is a 109 year old company headquartered in Des Moines, IA with six locations in Iowa and Missouri. Midwest Wheel is one of the largest truck parts distributors in the Midwest carrying a full line of replacement Heavy-Duty Fleet Products, Light Truck Accessories, Light Trailer Products, Commercial Fleet Parts and School Bus Replacement Parts.