The Company: About Portacool
Portacool, LLC is an East Texas-based leader in the evaporative cooling industry. With a 30-year history, over 300 employees and a thriving brand in their Kuul evaporative cooling products, Portacool has been prosperous for a long time.
The Situation: Extending Functionality
During most of that growth period, they operated on a legacy ERP platform called Macola Progression. Progression met all their requirements initially, but as the company grew and added new processes and financial controls, they needed to modify the system.
A few years ago, they turned to Algorithm for help with extending the platform’s functionality and they have been working together ever since. As expected, the time came when Macola Progression could not be modified anymore to grow with technology advancements and industry expectations. Because of this, Algorithm recommended that Portacool consider upgrading to an ultramodern, cloud-based ERP.
As they discussed options, the Portacool team realized how much they were being held back by manual processes and a 25-year-old Macola ERP system. In response, the new CFO, Rodney Roderick, and Finance Director, Stacey Mikesh, started looking at their future needs and current options. The decision-making team began to document the issues and built a vision for how they wanted to grow. They compiled a list of platforms to evaluate against their outdated system.
Portacool’s parent company was using SAP, and Roderick had worked with Microsoft Dynamics at a previous company, so both went on the list. Then, Algorithm’s team recommended that they also look at Acumatica.
The Solution: Acumatica ERP
Portacool knew that they had a big job ahead of them and started their planning by looking at the places where things went wrong with Progression:
Data and Usability Issues
As Portacool’s team worked through the discovery process, they realized just how bad their data was in Progression. This was not a big surprise because they knew the software hadn’t been upgraded in many years. The system was not optimized for a good user experience, wasn’t intuitive, and didn’t allow for insight.
Manual Tasks and Reports
The team struggled to create basic reports from the data in the old ERP. While you can pull data out of Progression it is labor-intensive on the back end. There are no dashboards available, which meant that Portacool relied heavily on manually created Excel spreadsheets. They even had to hand-key their financial statement data into their reporting package every month. Tracking costs at a detailed level or reporting by
channel, SKU, or customer was impossible.
Macola Progression did not offer a Warehouse Management Solution (WMS) out of the box, which meant an additional investment for an accompanying solution. Unfortunately, while there were extensions available for Progression, the integrations were clunky and required a lot of manual work. For example, Portacool knew they wanted serialized components and completed finished goods. Accomplishing this in Progression would have required investing in an extra expensive add-on.
Error Reporting and Alerts
Even good systems and processes have exceptions that sometimes need quick attention. When such exceptions occur, it is essential that the software notifies the team so corrective action can be taken. In one instance, Portacool had been waiting on a $600,000 payment only to find out three months later that the invoice did not go through via the existing EDI solution. Had they been notified, they would not have had to wait for the next payment cycle based on their customer’s payment terms.
The Results: Acumatica ERP Implementation Benefits
Better Data and Faster Performance
Acumatica is an extraordinarily flexible ERP platform, allowing Portacool to dictate the structure of their data instead of the other way around. This flexibility means cleaner data, more meaningful reports, and better usability.
Portacool will now serialize their components and completed finished goods, which allows them to track costs at a detailed level. They set up reports by channel, profitability by SKU, market channel, and customer. Acumatica saves PDFs straight into the system, which eliminates the use of paper. It is all in one depository, available to anyone who needs it.
With Acumatica’s interface and toolset, Portacool has become more efficient. They have eliminated manual data entry and can now input a complex journal entry in a minute versus ten in the legacy ERP.
Process Retooling and Automation
Stacey Mikesh, Finance Director, knew that it would be a mistake to import the data from Macola straight into the new system. He helped the team envision streamlined procedures rather than sticking with workflows that were decades old. This enabled him to reset the financial foundation with clean and meaningful data for the company and set it up for continued growth.
The refreshed approach meant less reliance on paper and manual spreadsheets and more time for the team to interpret and analyze the data. It also took full advantage of the built-in automation tools like the Advanced AP feature, eliminating the need to enter transactions manually.
Antiquated systems typically lack reporting, and Progression proved to be no exception. Mikesh explained some of the pain points. “As the Finance Director, I was spending too much time preparing data, preparing analyses, and helping our Finance Team pull together information. Consequently, I spent very little time reviewing and managing the information. This is critical.” With Acumatica, Mikesh can pull reports and spend his valuable time analyzing the data to make forward-thinking recommendations rather than preparing historical reports.
Now, with Acumatica, Portacool can track line performance and costs. Mikesh explained, “We have a lot of manufacturing equipment in our facility. We want to track which lines perform better because we’ve invested multiple millions of dollars in that equipment. Some perform better than others, and we need to know which
ones. We also need to know which products are less costly than others.”
When a company has million-dollar pieces of equipment, downtime gets very expensive. With Acumatica, the reporting is granular enough to report at the level needed without jumping through hoops. Not only can Portacool now track costs by SKU, but they can apply standard overhead and hourly rates to jobs automatically.
In addition, Portacool used to send out a daily invoice report that showed revenue billed to date, open orders, and what was expected to ship. They would compare it to their budget (if they had time when the email came in). If they did not read the email until late in the day, which happened often, the data was no longer accurate.
Acumatica’s reports are refreshable in real-time, so at any point in the day, the team can access correct reports. This helped Portacool become a data-driven organization with informed decisions.