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PMC Commercial Interiors Creates Workspaces That Drive Results

Posted by Zizi Weiss, Industry Marketing Lead - Wholesale Distribution

PMC Commercial Interiors has experienced dramatic change as an organization since its initial founding as the Raleigh Office Supply Company in 1945. After several acquisitions, current CEO Harry Chalker purchased what was then called Price Modern and changed the name to PMC Commercial Interiors.

The company has transformed from a straightforward office supply and furniture store to a sophisticated business that serves a wide range of organizations in creating productive, efficient, aesthetically-pleasing workspaces. That means understanding workplace needs and goals, choosing furniture, architectural products and technology that support those goals, and bringing it all together.

“We work with businesses large and small that care about their facilities and see the connection between workspace and desired results,” said Chalker.

PMC Commercial Interiors grew rapidly after Chalker’s purchase of the business in 2011, increasing from 20 employees and $22 million in revenue in 2011 to 91 employees and $44.6 million in revenue in 2015. But even though sales and headcount were exploding, the software infrastructure behind the scenes was not keeping up.

“We had this legacy toolset in place that we knew would only take us so far,” said Jonathan Whitehouse, IT Director at PMC Commercial Interiors. “We knew we needed a more robust platform to support our growth predictions.”

With its previous systems in place, PMC Commercial Interiors staff carried a large burden of manual, duplicative work. Data was rekeyed multiple times in PMC’s financial software, document management tool and inventory management platform. Customer records were manually entered in a whopping 12 different places per customer order.

Financial segmentation was also required given that PMC has locations in multiple states and cities. Each location needed to understand performance as a profit center compared to the overall performance of the company - without exponentially growing its support function.

PMC’s legacy toolset was offline, disconnected and very slow. The company’s A/R ledger required updating every night in a batch job in order to complete invoicing.

“With the batch jobs, we didn’t know what we billed out until the following day,” Whitehouse said. “The output was a static PDF report that left us no way to slice and dice the information.”

User experience for staff was a key concern as well. The legacy toolset looked like programs from the 80s and 90s, complete with a green screen. “We needed to attract talent to come and work for us,” said Chalker. “Recent college graduates who are accustomed to using sophisticated platforms could be really put off by our outdated toolset.”

PMC began investigating options in early 2015, choosing NetSuite based on its key differentiator: customization. Other critical selling points for PMC were NetSuite’s vast integration ability with a large partner ecosystem and the way NetSuite could differentiate its business from competitors.

“We went through evaluations with other products and asked to see the sales order and invoicing processes, for example,” said Chalker. “We could immediately see that the workflows in NetSuite would support our growth and make the sales process easier for customers and staff.”

Chalker and Whitehouse wanted technology that would be both an asset and a strategic advantage to the business. Other platforms in the company’s evaluation were built on programming languages that programmers aren’t learning anymore.

“We didn’t want to put our business on a platform that’s built on code that’s being phased out,” Whitehouse said.

PMC also needed an implementation partner that understood its specific business needs. Generic partners didn’t understand the concepts or “speak furniture,” according to Chalker. The organization selected Big Bang ERP because of its relevant experience and its confidence that Big Bang ERP could configure NetSuite with PMC’s custom requirements in mind.

PMC and Big Bang ERP worked on the implementation starting with an initial six-week phase in early 2016 to migrate all users, data and processes to NetSuite CRM. Once live with this first phase, PMC was able to manage its pipeline, allocate resources and create projects.

The company began the second development phase in mid-2016 which included financials, orders and inventory, and launched in January of 2017. The third and final phase was the scoping and launch of NetSuite’s customer portal for furniture sales, which went live in January of 2018.

Each phase of launch saw dramatic improvements immediately.

“During the first week after launch, I heard people say ‘I love NetSuite,’” Chalker said. “User adoption was off the charts.”

Today, 140 employees of PMC use NetSuite in a variety of roles, including sales, finance, procurement, project management, operations and customer service. NetSuite connects with the document management system, e-verification platform, tax compliance software and payment processor.

“All of our staff are working in one unified platform,” said Chalker. “Everyone is in the loop. We all see the same thing with no barriers. It makes all of our working experience so much better.”

The connection between NetSuite and PMC’s other mission-critical platforms removes the need for manual data entry. Data is updated real-time, so there’s no waiting overnight for batch jobs to run. Now any team member who needs information can access it immediately, from wherever they are: a huge benefit when weather or family commitments prevent staff from making it to the office.

PMC is also able to perform customer segmentation, creating predefined paths for different types of orders. And with NetSuite’s customer portal, those small, add-on transactions (which account for 70% of orders) for a keyboard or a new office chair can take place online, all without any manual intervention from PMC.

“With NetSuite, we don’t touch what we don’t need to,” Whitehouse said. “These prescribed paths improve the customer experience and move our staff away from small, transactional orders. It gives them the capacity to manage larger projects that need their care and attention.”

For the future, Chalker and Whitehouse plan to re-engineer business processes, including a new ecommerce experience, barcode receiving and field service automation.

“We believe our efficiencies are yet to come with the proposed changes,” said Whitehouse.

Learn how other services businesses are using NetSuite to differentiate their offerings and transform their operations. Read our customer stories here.