Having served the distributive trades in Europe and South Africa for over four decades and celebrating more than 800 customers and 80,000 users globally, KCS had to make an impact against well-established local software providers when they launched their flagship product to the North American market in 2015. Now two years later, with early success and a growing customer base, it is clear that KCS will soon be as well recognized in North America as they are abroad. “It has been an amazing adventure for the company,” asserts Alan Cross, KCS Executive Vice President North America, “and one that I hope will continue for many years to come. We are excited at the prospect of working with our customers in North America and have been extremely encouraged by the response from the market since our arrival.”
Their operations in North America started with the acquisition of Dancik International in 2015, with a vision to offer the strongest ERP products to the distributive trades. Based in Cary, North Carolina, Dancik International had a rich heritage of providing solutions specifically to flooring and surfaces distributors with an enviable list of customers including 17 of the top 25 flooring distributors. Further expansion continued with the acquisition of Houston based, Mincron in June 2016, a company with a similar history of serving the distributive trades, predominantly plumbing, HVAC/R, and irrigation sectors. “Having acquired Dancik International and Mincron in the past two years and anticipating future growth, KCS is definitely here to stay,” says Cross.
Originally from the UK, Cross now calls North Carolina home and is responsible for all business operations in North America. He further adds, “Both acquired businesses were culturally a great fit for us because they had great people with deep domain experience serving a loyal customer base. And they both had successful niche ERP solutions that gave us the opportunity to focus our initial introduction of K8 into the building supplies and lumber distribution market where we have traditionally enjoyed considerable success.”
KCS – Answering the call from distributors with common challenges; wherever they are in the world
Cross elaborates that the challenges for North American based distribution companies are remarkably similar to those experienced by many of their other global customers who aim to maximize margins while maintaining customer loyalty at a time when brand loyalty is diminishing with the ever evolving e-commerce trend.
K8 Has The Real Pedigree, Heritage, And Leading-Edge Functionality Coupled With A Clear And Comprehensive Product Roadmap That Demonstrates A Long-Term Commitment To The Industry
-Gary Schneidman, CFO, Interstate + Lakeland Lumber
Distributors have to source effectively ensuring they maximize their rebate potential and secure best pricing; stock efficiently to deliver high availability rates often across a significant product range; sell competitively and critically provide value added services to maintain that customer loyalty. "Distributors must differentiate themselves in the way they service their customers be that through offering unique terms and pricing or flexible delivery options from using will-call to direct shipments from manufacturers," states Cross. They also need access to real time data that provides the management team with business performance intelligence as it relates to products, branches, regions, and companies to support their decision-making process proactively.
A case in point is the implementation of K8 for Interstate + Lakeland Lumber Corp of Greenwich, CT, a full-service building materials and custom millwork supplier. The company selected K8 as the integrated business solution to replace their existing ERP. CFO, Gary Schneidman says, “K8 has the real pedigree, heritage, and leading-edge functionality coupled with a clear and comprehensive product roadmap that demonstrates a long-term commitment to our industry in North America.”
One of the key factors that attracted Interstate was the fully integrated product from KCS. Cross states that K8 offers an end-to-end solution with all fundamental ERP functionality available in the core K8 solution. “One surprise we have had since arriving in North America is how much ERP vendors rely on third party products in what we believe to be core functions such as finance, warehouse operations, and CRM.” KCS has developed K8 to have all these core functions included for customers without the complexity of interfaces and separate infrastructure. KCS offers flexible deployment methods either on premise or in the cloud as a SaaS solution. It also aligns with the need for mobility among the businesses and is also deployable on all kinds of smart devices.
The KCS Philosophy
KCS has built its reputation over four decades by developing strong relationships with their customers and listening to their challenges and aspirations.
KCS has clearly maintained a client-centric and futuristic approach since the inception of their business. While the company carries a legacy of success that has been built over a period, it holds values that help it sustain that legacy and further build on it. The company embraces a culture, which isn’t just aimed at KCS’s growth, but also the growth of its clients’. This is the reason the company considers each of their projects as change management rather than implementation projects. When a company’s leaders decide to introduce a new ERP solution to drive their business, it is because they know their business needs to change, needs to grow, and needs to be more competitive with the use of technology. Distributors also need to be mindful that they still have a business to run and customers to serve while implementing the new ERP system. Drive, determination, and optimism must go hand-in-hand with realism. “I always say the success of the project does not rest in the boardroom but at the branches, in the warehouse, and with the back office staff whose everyday job is serving the customer. What’s important is that the customers and KCS share a very strong bond and understanding from the onset about how we can make a project successful,” adds Cross.
"90 Percent Of KCS’s Roadmap Is Based On Customer Feedback"
Continuing the Legacy
The company has a long way to go in North America but clearly has the products to make that happen and this is a point Cross is quick to note, “While we are delighted at our progress in such a short time frame we do not for one minute believe we can sit back and relax. We are a ‘learning’ company which means you will never hear us boasting our products as best in class as there is always something more you can do to improve the solutions and services we offer to our customers,” says Cross. KCS has a core belief that they can continue to learn from their customers both here in North America and across their growing user base. “We publish our roadmap to all our customers, and they can see the investment we make in our products. 90 percent of KCS’s roadmap is based on customer feedback,” says Cross “and this strategy will continue as we work with distributors to not only meet the demands of today but what technology and functionality will be required in the future.”
KCS also has aggressive expansion plans, and while they are eyeing more acquisitions in North America they remain focused on organic growth by continuing to provide services and support to the existing customer base as well as introducing new customers to the company, and that is undoubtedly a great philosophy. “As we continue to grow, developing products that best support our customers and provide real competitive advantage will be our focus,” concludes Cross.