Switching Gears to Success with Odoo

Location/Region: Pittsburg, PA

Industry: Transportation

Apps implemented: Contacts, Inventory, Sales, Manufacturing, Repairs, Website 

Number of users: 100

Company size: 150 

Hosting type (On-premise or Odoo online): On-premise

From coast to coast, the American roadway is dominated by commercial vehicles. Semi-trucks, the workhorses of the highways, embark daily on cross-country journeys, carrying items such as fresh produce, retail goods, and machinery. Meanwhile, suburban streets see school buses carrying children from their homes to school five out of seven days a week. Semi-trucks and school buses are two examples of large vehicles that serve critical functions in the lives of Americans, making it important for these automobiles to function safely and efficiently. 

Point Spring & Driveshaft Co. is a truck parts and service provider with 10 locations spanning across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Tracing its origins back to 1926, the company gets its name from its original location and products sold. In Pittsburgh, the Allegheny River and Monongahela River meet at a “point” to form the Ohio River– this is where the business was originally located. The company made and sold springs, leading to the creation of its name, Point Spring.

Sean Ryan, President of Point Spring, finds his roots entwined in the very fabric of the company. In the mid-1930s, his grandfather started working at the business, starting off sweeping the floors and working his way up to general manager. In 1963, his grandfather bought Point Spring, a proudly family-owned business ever since.

Today, almost 100 years later, the company sells parts to repair large commercial vehicles. Seven of its ten locations also do the service work to repair those vehicles. Point Spring has over 100 suppliers of truck parts, and also does some re-manufacturing itself, as well, refurbishing parts and selling them as high-quality, used pieces. Having expanded its operations to several locations with different services and functionalities, the company recognized a need for new business software to manage its workflows. With the help of Odoo Partner, Bista Solutions, Point Spring is now trucking ahead with Odoo’s ERP software.

Stuck in neutral: Point Spring's outdated software roadblock before Odoo

Having been around since 1926, Point Spring has grown through the eras of technology. Before Odoo, the company had been using a home-grown Linux-based system since the early ‘80s. Point Spring had a close relationship with the developer who built that software, working closely with her to customize the ERP to fit their needs. For almost 30 years, the older system worked for them, with many of their employees understanding the software and having the knowledge to navigate it. However, Sean Ryan explains the issues the company eventually faced:

“It’s fine if somebody’s been using it their entire career; the challenging part is when we brought on new people. Because there’s just no intuition involved whatsoever, it's complete memorization of, ‘these are the pathways to get where you need to go,’ and it’s kind of the tribal knowledge type of thing. That was a big challenge. It was a good software, but onboarding new people was hard to do.”

He elaborated that the user interface was also very antiquated, and overall, the software was simply outdated. The turning point came when the developer who designed the software and worked closely with Point Spring decided to retire. This forced Sean’s business to switch gears and explore alternative options for a business management program.

The business evaluated 15-20 different software solutions and narrowed it down to a handful that they did in-person demonstrations for. Sean came across Odoo because there was a small, local Odoo Partner nearby, called Red Lab Media. After familiarizing himself with Odoo, Sean felt as though it was the best option for his company due to its open-source nature. Bruce Letterle, from Red Lab Media, introduced the company to Bista Solutions, a larger Odoo Partner, to support the company’s implementation and efforts.

“If we’re gonna make a big ERP change, we wanna do it once. I hope I never have to do that again in my career, anyway. The customization of Odoo gave us confidence that if our business changes in the future, in 5, 10, 15 years, we can get a module or we can have someone like Bista change the software. Basically update the software to fit our business as opposed to begging a company to see if they’ll make a modification on their software or not. So really the flexibility was really the overarching factor for us.”

The process evolved to a point where Bista was doing the majority of the work for Point Spring, leading the business to have Bista as their one and only Partner. Together, Bista and Odoo provided them with the solution to their workflow woes.

On the fast lane to success: better oversight and inter-branch integration with Odoo

The go-live was not without its challenges, Sean admits, but he expected this. It took about 18 months for development and requirements to be sorted out, as well as switching over their information from their old system to the new one. Point Spring finally went live on October 31st, 2022. Now, Sean is very happy with where the company is at in their journey with Odoo:

“We’re probably close to a year into being really, really in a good space with Odoo. Probably summer of last year is when we got into our stride.”

On a day-to-day basis, Sean’s role as President of the company has been made easier with the software. Odoo gives him an overview of his entire business, providing him with information and insight in an intuitive fashion:

“In my day-to-day workflow, I’m not in there every single day, I’m not really entering orders too much, but I’ve been with the company almost 11 years now, and I know far more about how to access things - information, data, reports - in Odoo than I ever knew in the old system. It’s a lot more intuitive, it’s a point-and-click, you can search for things. The other software didn’t have search capabilities. So from my perspective, I’m not by any means a technical expert, but in less than 2 years, I’m much more proficient in our current software than I was in our old system.”

Several features within Odoo, in particular, have made an impact on the daily operations of Point Spring’s business. Specifically, customizations in the Inventory application allow employees to forecast, ahead of time, that they have the right inventory available at the right locations, in the right quantities. The multi-company functionality within Odoo is also a game changer for the business, and Bista Solutions has been critical in developing customizations that provide capabilities that Point Spring needs to manage its various branches:

“We have 10 locations, and they each have their own inventory, but they share inventory all the time. We’re constantly transferring inventory from one to another. We might get a customer calling one branch that wants something that that branch doesn’t have, but our team can see that it's at another branch - so that branch functionality was…a lot of customization.”

Sean and the team at Point Spring are extremely happy about their ongoing relationship with Bista Solutions, particularly with their project manager, Mohammad:

“The one key thing that helped us was we did have a Bista project manager - Mohommad - he’s been on-site at our headquarters since three months before we went live. And he’s still here full-time today. [He] and the whole Bista team that has been supporting us has been really wonderful to work with.”

As Sean looks ahead toward Point Spring’s future with Odoo, he plans to upgrade to version 18 once available and is optimistic about the software’s ability to grow with his company as it continues to flourish. When asked if there was anything he wanted to specifically highlight or emphasize at the end of the interview, Sean said, “How proud I am of the Point Spring team that made it happen. It was a challenging endeavor, and really it was the team that made it happen and made it successful.” 

Above all else, with Odoo’s ERP software to manage their business workflows and Bista to help tailor the system to fit their exact needs, it is the Point Spring team that has revved their company to success.

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