EPICOR Prophet 21 System Implemented
Over the long weekend after Thanksgiving, the WUE staff worked hard to finalize the implementation of our new ERP system. On December 1st, after months of planning and hard work by the entire staff, WUE successfully migrated our internal systems from SAP to EPICOR’s Prophet 21 system.
WUE’s #1 goal over the course of the implementation was to minimize the impact on members. While no system change is perfect, I am happy to say that day to day operations were unaffected during the migration.
The migration has not only brought a number of immediate internal efficiencies, it also laid the groundwork for WUE to continue to improve in order to better serve our members.
In the upcoming months WUE will begin the work of implementing a number of new processes that will significantly increase efficiency both for WUE and our members. These new features include barcoding, digital signatures at delivery, and increased functionality on our new website.
We look forward to using these efficiencies and new processes to better serve you, our members, for years to come.
Chief Information Officer
Meet WUE’s WEST Department
2019 brought tremendous growth to Western United’s Substation and Transmission (WEST) Department and the proof is in the numbers. The first six months of WUE’s Fiscal Year 2020 has seen record WEST department sales exceeding budget by over 500%. This success has everything to do with the team that was formed in early 2019.
Jennifer Gilbert is back with WUE!!! Jennifer stepped away from WUE in 2008 to work for Irby. “While my time away was great, I am very excited to be back!” Jennifer grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska Kearney where she earned a degree in Industrial Distribution. She started her career with Wesco as an Inside Sales person and relocated to Colorado in 1997 to work for WUE. “I focused my efforts to learning substation and transmission systems. It was amazing to help start the department. I worked with engineers, contractors and our members on specifications and project material management. I handled many WEST projects over the next 10 years.”
Tim Upton joined WUE in early 2019 also coming from Irby. Tim grew up in Wyoming on a Cattle Ranch and started his career in 1995 building power lines for Brink Constructors. In 1999 he went to work for Great Southwestern Construction (GSW) as an apprentice and operator. This began his passion for substations. He worked as a Site Superintendent and traveled across the country building substations and transmission line. He handled the array of construction and project management in a multitude of different voltages and elevations. Tim finished out his field career with his Journeyman Lineman and Substation Electrician certifications. In 2009, he started working for Irby. He focused on material management and technical referencing for field support. In 2019 he made the move to WUE’s WEST department with Jennifer.
Jennifer and Tim have been a team for over a decade and WUE is excited to have their expertise leading our revitalized WEST department. They are recognized throughout the industry as the experts in Substation and Transmission deployment and offer tremendous value to our members and customers. The pair have helped train each other over the years and their teamwork is an essential factor in their success. WUE recognized early on that if we were going to be successful in the Substation and Transmission, we needed both Jennifer and Tim. It was a package deal and one that has been very successful in a short time.
Construction is well underway on the expansion to our Brighton warehouse. The addition includes 25K square feet of enclosed warehouse space, 5K of covered outdoor space in addition to 22 new parking spaces and an EV charging station. Completion is now expected in March 2020.
Okonite holds prices for 2020
Barring any major changes in raw material pricing, Okonite will maintain their 2019 pricing through 2020 for Western United. Okonite currently has more cable at WUE facilities than ever before. WUE’s
success with our Inventory Management Programs and Job Kitting are contributing factors to Okonite’s commitment to WUE and our Coop Member base.
Sunbelt and Solomon recently merged to become Sunbelt-Solomon. This merger, along with an overall decline in nationwide OCR rebuilds (as more and more customers transition to solid-state reclosing technology), has resulted in a change in approach for market billing moving forward. Effective January 31, 2020, Sunbelt-Solomon will begin billing directly to end users in the WUE service territory. Customers that wish to continue working with WUE on their rebuild and remanufactured transformer needs should generate requests through their Western United sales representative in order to continue receiving their billing from WUE.
Western United and Sunbelt-Solomon continue to foster a close relationship; this is simply a decision that reverts back to historical norms in regards to end user billing. Please reach out to your WUE sales representative if there is anything that we can assist with during this transition.
Government Tariffs: The Effect on Product Costs
Many of the products used in the electric utility industry have some amount of content from China and thus have been impacted by the recent U.S. government tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum. Because of this, Western United has been experiencing tariff related cost increases on many of the products WUE supply’s to our members. The price increase on individual items varies based on the amount of impacted material found in each item. Many items that are assembled in U.S. factories have some components within them that are fabricated in China. In these cases the manufacturers must calculate the impacted components value as a percentage of the finished product’s total price and adjust the cost accordingly. This has created an accounting nightmare for the manufacturers. To say the least, our suppliers have had a difficult time reacting to these tariffs
(Imported Steel Tariffs: 25%, Imported Aluminum Tariffs: 10%).
WUE’s suppliers have been working on options to reduce and eliminate the effect of tariffs on their products. Some have begun looking at moving fabrication from China to non-effected countries. These include India, Malaysia and Vietnam as well as moving production back to North America and the United States. Our suppliers tell us that these relocations are a normal part of the business cycle as raw materials and wages change over time. But production moves are costly and can take several years to implement. Some manufacturers have moved offshore production back to the U.S. But these moves have not always resulted in reduced costs as expected. We have had suppliers inform us that domestic steel and aluminum producers have taken the opportunity to raise their prices in light of the higher costs now on imported materials.
The Western United purchasing and inventory management team is continually working to smooth out pricing fluctuations by using a cost averaging approach to price management. So material received at a higher costs is blended with the lower costs of our on hand inventories. This tends to flatten out the effect of raising costs.
Going forward our manufacturing partners have stated that as tariffs are reduced and eliminated we will see immediate price reductions and stabilization. In the meantime Western United is trying to purchase from the approved suppliers with the lowest costs. We will keep our members informed of changing market conditions as they change.