"We clarified our requirements, quickly narrowed the choices to the best business partner."
The year 2020 was one of uncertainty and change. How has the pandemic affected glass manufacturers/fabricators? It depends on the fabricator, but at Evans Glass in Nashville, TN, “We’ve not missed a beat. June 2020 was the biggest month we’ve ever had in our history. We keep humming along,” says Patrick Smyth, COO.
How did Evans Glass arrive at this point? To understand this is to step back 4+ years to a time before software. In 2014, Bill Evans, CEO/President, and upper management realized they had an opportunity modernize and improve their fabrication facility. The ‘perfect business storm’ was brewing in Nashville with rising construction and more opportunities than capacity. To meet that demand, Bill and Patrick realized the company needed to change and “skate to where the puck would be.” That meant moving away from manual fabrication to software-directed fabrication. However, this required change.
“Change is just hard for humans,” according to Bill, “and a very scary proposition,” Patrick added. Change helps us grow as humans and companies though. To mitigate the fear of change, management wanted a software partner, who would support them and keep open lines of communication. So, the search began for a software partner capable of helping them expand and develop their business. According to Patrick, who has a background in software development, “We clarified our requirements, quickly narrowed the choices to the best business partner,” which was A+W Software.
According to Bill, “The accessibility to upper management create[d] a belief in future support from A+W.” Backing up this belief with action was critical to Evans Glass’ success as witnessed by a short, successful 4-month implementation process. “In those 4 months, the employees on the shop floor changed a lot. By October 2017, they were blowing it out of the water!,” as stated by Bill. “October 2017 was a massive amount of work, but there were no hiccups or issues reported by our employees. It went smoothly. [Glass] was flowing through the fabrication shop at a rate we had never produced at before. Nobody on the production floor was even aware that this was happening. No one knew what they accomplished, but the system told us everything,” Patrick states.
All of this was accomplished through A+W Business Pro, an ERP system that runs both the front and backend of the business from customer order to delivery. Because of A+W Business Pro, Evans Glass has substantially increased throughput with higher visibility to key information at every step of the fabrication process, better decision-making abilities due to real-time information, greater control of operating processes, increased efficiency, and improved the ability to deliver accurate products on time, every time.
Speaking of products, Evans Glass “has been helping to build Nashville since 1956” with glass options, including tempered, IGUs, and custom glass, for residential and commercial customers, such as Brown-Forman, the owners of Jack Daniels. Their glass products are used in new and remodeled construction, aluminum entrances and storefronts, hand rails, glass partitions, shower doors, countertops, cabinets and shelving, and much more. As Nashville expands, further automation of the factory is scheduled for 2021, so stay tuned!
Four years into the partnership, Evans Glass is thriving. “Without a long-term view and a goal for achieving growth, the disruption [of adopting a new software system] will be the thing you focus on. That means you’ll never make the decision and never grow. In our case, we set ourselves up to serve more people and do that in a way that is reliable, predictable, and with high quality [products] every time,” through software by A+W, according to Patrick.
This all leads to greater confidence the right decision is being made at the right time. “We at Evans Glass now see ourselves as a software-driven business, which is a gigantic shift in mindset for a family-run glass fabrication business. This shift in mindset sets us up for greater growth in the future.” As Patrick stated so directly, we can now “go beyond what we thought we could do without immediately adding people. That is a big deal!”
The capability of the people and software to keep up with demand means Evans Glass can continue to expand as Nashville grows. As Evans Glass expands, their A+W software system will grow with them. As Patrick so succinctly states, “We might be small, but we are just as complex as the bigger fabricators.” So, when you look for a software system for your business, look for a system that can grow with you!