Steve McEnany

VP of Marketing and Technology, Midwest Wheel Companies, Inc., Midwest Wheel Companies, Inc.

Supernova Award Category: 

AI and Augmented Humanity

The Organization: 

Midwest Wheel was founded in 1911 and is a fifth-generation family owned business headquartered in Des Moines with seven 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.

The Problem: 

Many problems can arise when ordering a part required for truck repair that can impact the customer experience.  When a part is broken and needs repair, there may also be surrounding parts that are worn down or break during the repair process which a customer should purchase to avoid additional repairs.  This is where Midwest Wheel prides itself in delivering high quality solutions to its customers.  Each salesperson is trained to find the right interdependent parts, but the process is manual and takes time to research to present the customer the right solution.  In some cases, a salesperson may not offer additional parts, resulting in a dissatisfied customer because an extra trip to the store is made to place a second order for a needed part.

The Solution: 

AI parts recommendation engine: Created for a 75-person sales team, optimize ordering process, providing customers the highest quality solution to improve truck lifespan. Embedded within the CloudSuite Distribution sales order entry screen, generating the best upsell opportunity.The Infor tech. platform: Underpins Infor CloudSuite, offers integrated data integration, data lake, BI reporting, analytics, & AI/ML services to enable innovation without procuring additional licenses. ML algorithms, applied to 3yrs of historical customer order data in the Infor data lake, generates predictions of additional products, customers are recommended to purchase for a given part ordered. Adoption of AI: Opportunity Loss Report created. Managers can compare what AI recommended to what is invoiced for customers, follow up with salespeople to understand why AI recommended parts were not sold. Data will offer actionable insights to improve training and marketing to grow in the future.

The Results: 

With CloudSuite Distribution recommending the ten best parts, the Midwest salesperson can immediately suggest the right set of associated parts to include in the order.  Not only do customers get more value from their purchase, but Midwest Wheel gains efficiencies and adds to its bottom line:

  • Improved customer experience with lower waiting times on the phone and over the counter
  • Customers save money with the right set of related parts, also leads to increased product lifespan and fewer repairs
  • Improved sales productivity with clear recommendations embedded within the sales order screen - opportunity to increase revenue per transaction
  • Up to 30% reduction in time in processing a sales order with the machine recommending the right dependent parts and commonly bought parts
  • 4 weeks to operationalize a real artificial intelligence application without hiring data scientists or developers
  • 100% accurate - Validated ten correct additional parts for a spring order was recommended
The Technology: 

Infor CloudSuite Distribution: Sales orders are processed, automatically pushed into the Infor data lake through Infor OS. Infor Coleman, machine learning to create a recommended set of parts, with API calls to bring in pricing for each part, data pushed back as an in-context view into Infor CloudSuite Distribution where the salesperson places the order. Single dashboard view, Infor Birst delivers the Opportunity Loss report to Sales Managers to compare recommended parts and invoiced parts.

Disruptive Factor: 

With the pandemic driving record high demand for transportation solutions in a highly competitive truck parts distribution market, McEnany relies on the Infor partnership and cloud technology platform to differentiate and create the best experience for customers.  Midwest Wheel partnered with Infor in 2014 for their knowledge of the truck parts distribution business, but also because Infor was investing in cloud innovation.  Now, seven years later, McEnany attributes the Infor partnership to delivering sustained growth, as they just opened their seventh store location.

Shining Moment: 

Moving to the cloud gave McEnany time to focus on innovation, leveraging Infor’s tech platform to create new services to improve revenues & customer satisfaction. Creating new application services without impacting the ERP system and subsequent upgrades. Bringing innovation to sales using ML for analyzing customer buying patterns - helping to group customers (into grades,1-5), tracking changes in buying patterns. Sales can better target, engage with the right offer at the right time.

About Midwest Wheel Companies, Inc.

Midwest Wheel is a 110 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.