Big Ass Fans Case Study by Epicor ERP
About The Company
Big Ass Fans first made its mark selling massive ceiling fans that spun slowly but moved astounding amounts of air thanks to aerodynamically friendly designs. The fans kept large spaces that lacked air conditioning — such as factories and dairy barns— feeling cool and comfortable. Recently, the company also introduced a line of LED lighting fixtures, as well as residential fans.
Big Ass Fans’ first enterprise resource planning (ERP) system promised scalability— however, that wasn’t the case, as CEO Carey Smith recalled when the company was making around $10 million in revenue. “I remember them saying, ‘even if you get as big as $25 million [in revenue] we’ll be able to help you,’” Said Smith. With the company’s innovative fan designs quickly catching on in the market, they soon found themselves pushing that system’s upper boundaries.
After an extensive search, the company landed on Epicor ERP, which has proven capable of growing alongside the company. “It’s only a ceiling fan, but it’s a very complex product,” said Bill Nall, chief information officer, Big Ass Fans. “That drives a lot of complexity on the bill of materials and how all those parts come together on the factory floor. That’s where I think technology is critical, because you can’t manage that level of complexity without having a tight ERP system.”
Results & Benefits
The company has manufacturing plants globally, so the ability for all of them to stay connected is paramount to its success, and it all starts with order fulfillment and planning. Big Ass Fans plans production well in advance to meet the customer’s expectations. “A good ERP system is huge from the standpoint of being able to take all of the demand, all of the sales orders, and tie everything together,” said Greg Finley, production manager. “Epicor ERP literally ties our company together from beginning to end and all the way to shipping product to customers in a timely manner.”
Big Ass Fans is no stranger to some of the biggest challenges in manufacturing — reducing costs, maximizing inventory, and meeting fluctuating demand. However, where it sets itself apart is how deep it goes into the data provided by Epicor ERP to grow the business through procurement. Whether it’s leveraging existing vendor data for better rates on materials or identifying new business opportunities, using the business intelligence data provided by Epicor ERP is at the forefront of the company’s growth goals.
“I think one of the things that’s most important when I look at the business as we’ve grown is the fact that we’re able to have more analytics — more vision on the company and on the parts,” said Smith. “In order to take advantage of new opportunities, you have to have business intelligence. We think that in the ERP system that Epicor provides, that’s a major component — all of our analytics are built on that. It’s very important for us, because we can’t tell what opportunities we can avail ourselves of if we don’t have the figures. If we can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist.”
Looking back at the decision to switch ERP systems, the team over at Big Ass Fans believes Epicor ERP has been invaluable. “From a customer perspective, talking to a supplier, I feel honesty is important, and we’re very pleased with the way it’s worked out,” said Smith. “Now, it’s been 10 years later and [Epicor ERP is] still working. It’s great. We’ve been able to grow into a $300 million company by investing in software that allows us to reach our customers and control our inventory and production. I can’t imagine how this could have been done without having a very robust software system and partner like Epicor.”