Who says that pro dealers are slow to embrace technology? With an eye toward improving operating efficiencies, supply chain optimization, and customer integration for its 4,200 members, Fort Wayne, Ind.–based Do it Best Corp. formed a strategic alliance in April with Austin, Texas–based Activant Solutions to provide a comprehensive technology platform for the pro dealer co-op.
According to Do it Best executive vice president and COO Dave Haist, the alliance is designed to help co-op members “adapt to changing times, competition, and demands, and ultimately grow using a leading edge technology solution that is customized to their business needs.” As part of the agreement, Do it Best will resell Activant Eagle for Windows systems to members that are currently using the Do it Best CS2000 proprietary legacy system. Activant will have the rights to market and sell the Activant Eagle for Windows and Activant Falcon systems directly to members who don't own a system or are using a third-party system.
Dennis Dorn, chairman of the board for Portage Do it Best in Portage, Wis., and a co-op board member for 10 years, says anticipation is running high among members looking for the broader applications that Activant POS systems promise, including signature capture, wireless access, and document imaging. “There are computer users in our industry everywhere from those who use them just as sophisticated cash registers to those people who really use every nuance of data available,” he says. “Our firm is somewhere in the middle, but we are working toward becoming more aggressive users. So for us it is an exciting thing.”
A key feature of the alliance is a lengthy five-year migration, allowing members ample time to receive training on new systems from Activant and the co-op at Do it Best market trade shows, at co-op distribution centers, via Web-based classes, and on site at member yards. “You cannot just throw technology over the fence,” says Activant president Pervez Qureshi. “There are two parts to a comprehensive solution—one is the technology itself, but you have to provide many ways of training the dealer and pro lumberyard.” According to a press release on the alliance, Activant's migration experience and extensive training support, in addition to installed sales and e-commerce capabilities, were key factors in Do it Best's decision to align itself with the solutions provider.
While Do it Best traditionally veers away from mandating change across the co-op's membership, there are hopes that eventually a critical mass of members on Activant systems will create efficiencies and enable dealers to rapidly deploy computer-based programs and processes, including promotions, pricing, file maintenance, and catalog information. “The greater number of members that you have on a particular system certainly allows for [a better] functionality and interface with the special programs and business practices unique to Do it Best,” says Haist. “We feel it is a complete and full alliance that really looks at the kinds of solutions members need on a daily basis. We are all looking forward to it.”