SPI Sécurité: Québec’s Valued Distributor & Solutions Provider of Safety Products
Since Paul Tremblay first started the company in 1972, SPI has become a valued distributor and solutions provider of safety products and services in Québec. Initially, SPI specialized in fire prevention, but over the past four decades, SPI has strategically acquired multiple businesses with the goal of becoming a leader in providing occupational health and safety products and solutions.

SPI currently has over 185 employees and over 45,000 SKUs in 16 branches, including one mobile branch and five service centers to which their customers can rely on to improve safety within dangerous working environments. SPI differentiates itself from the competition by being a safety solutions provider first and foremost and a distributor second. Thus, SPI does not need to stock anything and everything safety related, but rather only top of the line safety equipment to protect the worker and ensure safety in the work environment. Customers know that their employees can walk into any SPI location and walk out completely protected from head to toe. One of their top product lines is their signature brand Kosto which includes premiere quality workers’ boots, shoes, and gloves. Maintaining focus on their initial specialty, SPI has an internal division of fire protection that sells, replenishes, and certifies fire extinguishers. In addition, SPI has an in-house manufacturer of specialized custom made clothing such as fire resistant and arc-flash clothing, which they can completely make to the customers’ specifications, including adding company logos, reflectors, or the like.

SPI Selects SX.enterprise and Group Laurier, A Founding Partner of Distributor’s EDGE
After largely focusing on growth and acquisition, SPI was in need of a technology makeover, so they carefully examined their ERP options over a 12-month period in 1997. With a vision in mind to become as much of a high performance distributor as they were a solutions provider, SPI was looking for a software and partner that could grow with them over the next several decades. SPI had plans to reduce costs and become more efficient, so they knew they needed a partner much like themselves: someone who could evaluate the situation and suggest the best course of action for the long term.

In the end, they selected Group Laurier, a founding partner of Distributor’s EDGE, for their insight, and SX.enterprise, Infor’s distribution specific ERP solution, for its scalability. In 1998, SPI installed SX.enterprise with the confidence that their DE partner and the Infor product line would help them continue to grow.

Better Serving the Customer
With SX.enterprise, SPI is able to meet marketplace demands within the retail and wholesale sectors and operate as a high performance distributor. Using SX.enterprise, SPI streamlined operations to offer next day delivery from a central distribution location, a 55,000 square foot facility in Blainville, Québec. SPI could consistently provide clients with products and services through the distribution center, local branches, a distributor network and a branch on wheels. SPI developed a mobile branch on wheels, which is a traveling warehouse that visits customers in different regions of Québec where branches are not located. Workers can view products, get hands-on demonstrations, try on and shop for workers’ boots, vests, and a variety of other product categories right in their company’s parking lot. Customers benefit from this value added service as there’s no down time and costs related to their employees leaving during company hours to go purchase products. Likewise, their workers benefit from this service as they don’t need to spend their time after business hours shopping and then expensing the products they purchase. As SPI continues to grow, they continue to provide top quality products and value added services for their customers.

High Performance Distributor
With the implementation of SX.enterprise, SPI’s culture has centralized around serving the customer, protecting them and their environment, and doing so in a fast, cost effective, and efficient way for both parties. SPI began leveraging technologies that would help them achieve their goals. With the reporting tools in SX.enterprise and Hyperion, which provides actionable data from within SX.e, SPI easily monitors margins, examine costs, reviews invoice exceptions, and proactively fixes any possible service failures before they occur. Managers and employees can view information quickly and take appropriate action.

Additionally, SPI has been using Contact and Activity Manager (CAM) to improve bottom line profits. The CAM program stores information on contacts such as their name, title, language, and coordinates. SPI ties contacts to OE transactions, which allow for historical data to be retrieved from a customer’s past ordering history on a per contact basis. With such information available, SPI has automated invoicing and statements, created targeted marketing campaigns, and drastically improved efficiency in almost every department of the company. Invoices and statements are sent directly to the appropriate contacts via email rather than to a general fax number or by mail. The results are an improvement of average days to pay and a reduction in costs and time for both companies; plus, it is environmentally friendly. Employees are able to see which contact at our customers’ locations placed the order, and with a click of the mouse, they have access to the contacts’ coordinates. The accounting department has noted a savings of over 2 hours per day and inside customer service and sales have expressed on average a 50% reduction in time it takes to follow up on back orders. CAM provided SPI employees the ability to increase sales, reduce time searching for back orders, create targeted marketing promotions and improve efficiency.

SPI also uses Unform and Unform Designer to easily customize and improve the documents that come from SX.enterprise. Within a couple of minutes, SPI was able to customize documents to add messages for the customers, information regarding return policies, and coordinates of branch locations. Fields were added and removed and the font size was changed, all without the added costs of paying for modifications. Customers and employees are extremely pleased with the new documents as it increases customer visibility of prices, whole order discounts, and order and line comments which customers note were previously difficult to see. Fax cover pages are no longer necessary as the SPI phone number, fax number, and website were added directly to the quotes and order confirmations, thereby reducing costs for SPI and their customers and improving system performance.

SPI employees immediately saw the value in CAM and accepted the new processes that went along with the program. Together with strong business processes, the CAM program, Unform, and Unform Designer resulted in significant ROI, in addition to improving customer service.

Tangible Results
In addition to implementing a scalable solution, SPI was able to track many tangible results. According to current SPI president, Martin Tremblay, tangible success was immediate: “In the year following our Go Live, we ran a much more disciplined operation because of SX.enterprise, and our gross margin quickly increased because of all the pricing possibilities we had. We were also better positioned to answer our customers’ questions about delivery times.”

After a successful Go Live, SPI increased efficiency and noticed these specific results:

  • 1. SPI had 39 POs in their first calendar year on SX.enterprise, and between January 2009 and January 2010, SX.e helped them process 15,366 POs, even during the recession.
  • 2. On the old system, SPI could not track backorders, but they know the number of backorders has decreased significantly on SX.enterprise.
  • 3. SPI’s current Fill Rate is 96.89% which is impressive considering they are not on paperless warehouse. However, they have plans to migrate to TWL in the near future.

SPI attributes the above successes to their dedicated staff and the innovative technology that Infor provides.

Success During Turbulent Times
While no business is recession proof, SPI recognized that the safety industry within Québec provides a unique opportunity for companies providing safety products and solutions to remain profitable and grow, even during times of recession. Laws governing the protection of workers and their environments were recently passed within Québec that put the responsibility and liability directly on executives of organizations to ensure workers are properly protected and their environments are safe.

While recessions lend themselves to cost-cutting competitive pricing strategies by most distributors, customers will inevitably forego the lowest price supplier for the one that can provide the overall best solutions to protect their employees and their work environments.

In March 2010, SPI signed a $60 million dollar, 5-year contract with Rio Tinto to become their official distributor for safety products and solutions for all their facilities in Eastern Canada. While this is estimated to be one of the largest safety product contracts in Canadian history since the inception of the C.S.S.T., it was no surprise that SPI was chosen as the solution provider for Rio Tinto.

SPI attributes such success and their ability to maintain and grow business during challenging times to their dedicated staff, specialized product and service offering, value added services, high level of expertise, exceptional customer and vendor relationships, professionalism, and decades in the business.

SPI and their DE Partner
SPI needed to partner with a high caliber organization when selecting their ERP solution. They selected their DE partner with the confidence they would be a proactive and supportive business partner. Manager of Continuous Improvement, Mark Meitin, says this of their DE partner, “Group Laurier’s support staff is great. Many times with a software company, you need to push for the support you need, but they always addresses the issue at hand.”

SPI carefully implemented SX.enterprise with their DE partner’s assistance, and since implementation, SPI has seen the results they sought and more. Over the years, SPI’s DE partner has helped by presenting, installing, and supporting various software programs that ensure smooth and efficient operations. As SPI implemented such technology, they continued to enhance and grow their business.

Moving forward, SPI plans to continue to grow while leveraging the appropriate technologies that can position it to continually meet market demands with the best products and services. Meitin adds, “We are continually buying from our DE partner. If the relationship were not up to par, we would turn elsewhere for support.” In addition to all the previous Infor solutions mentioned, SPI has recently purchased Event Manager and committed to a version 6.0 SX.e upgrade. They will be preparing for TWL as their warehouse management solution, and their DE partner will assist in moving SPI’s servers to a new location within the coming months. Meitin offers one final thought, “To anyone who is considering partnering with a DE partner and the Infor suite of products, don’t look at the initial financial costs. Look at your long-term plan and consider Infor’s incredible dedication to product development. Our DE partner and SX.enterprise have allowed us to continually grow our business.”

For more information about SPI Sécurité, visit www.spi-s.com.


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