(c) Ritchey Metals 2004Ritchey Metals supplies zinc, aluminium and non-ferrous alloys across the die casting, electroplating and steel coating industries. In order to cope with its growth and increasingly complex requirements, it turned to its consultancy partner Ascend Business Services to help them through the selection and implementation of a new ERP. Enterprise Times questioned Dale Johnston, Managing Partner at Ascend Business Services and the consultant to Richey Metals about this.

Richey Metals was using a mix of solutions to run the growing business. It used QuickBooks for Accounts, Panacea (an Access Database), Expense Watch, Maintenance Connection and a host of excel spreadsheets. With the help of Ascend Business Services, Richey Metals narrowed down the selection to two vendors. In the end, it chose Sage X3.

Why Sage X3

Dale Johnston, Managing Partner at Ascend Business Services
Dale Johnston, Managing Partner at Ascend Business Services

Enterprise Times asked Johnston how it reached the decision:

“Ritchey Metals selected Sage over other alternatives for a host of reasons—reputation and brand familiarity, resources in customizations, training and knowledge, price, the cost of implementation of a system, the annual maintenance and assurance costs, and finally the ability to assist us with best practices within the excellent features offered.”

Johnston also revealed how the ERP decision to replace the IT systems came about. He added: “We are advisors and consultants to Ritchey Metals on host of unrelated issues to try and help improve their business—Sage was the right fit to address their ERP needs and streamline operations.

“We started out by assisting in developing a long-term plan with implementation of short-term tools to help install the necessary culture to achieve the long-term plan. As part of the plan, we noticed their systems were unable to get us to the finish line, so we shopped for ERP systems and financial systems, assisting in selection of Sage X3.”

The project

Ascend Business Services is not a Sage partner, so ET asked Johnston, who is carrying out the implementation project? He replied, “Ascend Business Services is leading the internal implementation working directly with Sage Project Managers and content experts to implement the solutions.

The solution will deploy to 32 users and will include modules to support Finance, Transportation, EDI, ERP and MRP as well as Business Intelligence. During the initial selection process, Ritchey Metals were attracted by the ability to deploy Sage X3 both as an on-premise solution or within the cloud. Having determined that it wanted to install Sage X3 on-premises, it is now reconsidering that option, following advice from the Sage experts, and may deploy in the cloud.

The solution is not just for the back-office staff. The deployment will also occur on the shop floor. ET asked Johnston how it intended to achieve this. He said:

“The use of handheld devices will drive the deployment of Sage X3, with scanning capabilities to assist in each step of the alloying and manufacturing process. Sage X3’s fully integrated tracking capabilities will enable Ritchey Metals to track all activities on the plant floor.”

The benefits

Ascend Business Services has assisted Ritchey Metals to identify the potential benefits of the new solution. It believes it can achieve over $200,000 in operational savings every year once deployed. Johnston explained where they would make the savings commenting: “Ritchey Metals projects an operational cost saving of $200,000, and probably a lot higher, because Sage X3 helps the company with inventory management, specifically commodities hedging of our inventory to take the market out of our margins, having the appropriate level of inventory, being able to organize and plan for it, then finally have unsold or unpriced inventory hedged to take the market out.

Sage X3 will also help Ritchey Metals streamline its supply chain. When asked about how it will achieve this Johnston answered: “The ability to access accurate, real-time data from a materials planning solution will allow us to order further in advance, control our inventory and match the purchase costs of inventory with sale price of inventory in a commodities market. If there was a disconnect here, it could cost millions; even if we are off by one penny a pound, it would be off a million dollars a year. The accuracy and timeliness of information Sage X3 unlocks for us is critical to maximizing our profits.”

What will it mean for Ritchey Metals

These changes will subsequently improve response times for customer orders and enquiries. In turn, this will improve the customer experience. With better forecasting, there will be more time for the business leaders to target strategic goals. These potentially include M&A activity which Ascend Business Services also advise Ritchey Metals on.

Stephen Ritchey, President, Ritchey Metals commented: “Sage X3’s innovative technology will play a critical role in accelerating the growth of our business. Data lives at the core of our operations and with Sage, we’re confident that we’ll be able to leverage real-time data to gain competitive advantages in our industry and continue to thrive in an uncertain time.”

Enterprise Times: What does this mean

Ritchey Metals has reached a stage of maturity where it needed to replace its disparate solutions with a single ERP. Sage X3 provided the option for deployment either on-premise or in the cloud. While it originally wanted a mature on-premises solution, it also realized that it needed one that it could in the future have delivered in the cloud. There may have been several reasons for this.

A cloud-based solution is far easier to deploy to any acquisitions or new plants it invested in. Since the pandemic hit, the decision has evolved. The company now understands that cloud offers several other advantages. It can also leverage the solution for home workers. Not only sales executives but even accounting and office workers who need to maintain social distancing. This is also a good win for Sage. What will be interesting is if it can persuade Ascend Business Services to invest in becoming a channel partner.

There is an interesting and trusting relationship between Ascend Business Services and Ritchey Metals. It is one that is founded on business strategy rather than technology. However, with cloud software and its regular cadence of updates, there is an intermingling of both. The hard work on the project is just beginning. It will be interesting in a year to see what progress Ritchey Metals has made.


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