By Jeff Sanford
Welland, Ontario -- June 25, 2015 -- Supply firm Treschak Enterprises has pioneered the industry’s first “pull” inventory management system for collision repair centres.
According to Jamie Treschak, son of the company’s founder, Don, the genius bit of innovative kit will save collision centres money and is finding eager acceptance as a result. In an interview with Collision Repair magazine Treschak points out, “this is the new way Treschak Enterprises goes to market.”
Industry execs know the trend has been to go “lean” in terms of inventory management, as it is in all aspects of the business. The new process takes this key business strategy to a new level. “We need to live the lean life ourselves,” says Treschak about the new Mobile Depot system.
The system is a brilliant bit of entrepreneurship. Treschak outfits supply rooms in collision centres with an Internet-connected bar-code system. Installed in an unmanned kiosk, the system allows technicians to self check-out items. Inventory is monitored over the Internet. When supplies are low, replacements are sent automatically before the shortages become a hindrance to productivity. Customers are billed only on usage, not on filling the room.
“We put the warehouse in the customer’s shop. But we hold the inventory,” says Treschak. Inventory levels can be set based on usage history. By managing inventory over the net, the amount of product held in inventory is reduced. Clients save money. “Why should a shop be a warehouse? They are only buying what they use,” he says. “The product is on consignment so there is no inventory other then what is open on the floor.”
According to Treschak the savings can be substantial. But there are other advantages as well. One big one: there are no slowdowns due to product shortage.
“With the old system if someone forgets to order something, you have problems. Shops run out of materials from time to time, and production stops. I thought, ‘We could do something about this,’” he says. “It’s been a bit of a cultural change for Treschak, but we’ve always been customer driven.”
The initiative was rolled out in March of last year. Development of the system was done in-house. Utilizing a touch screen and bar code readers, the room is monitored by video. Reporting can be done on a per-person basis. Collision centres are billed once a week.
“Rather than getting 100 invoices, you get one for paint and one for sundries. This is great for the account department at the shop. And there is zero ‘stock out,’” says Treschak. “Anybody can sell on price. That’s easy. We got tired of selling that way. We wanted to say, ‘How can we help our clients grow? How can we make this happen?’ If the shop is not doing well, we aren’t doing well. If we focus on doing everything we can to help a shop, everyone wins in the end. Anyone can sell product for cheap. We’re here for the shop.”
No wonder clients are lining up. In the blink of an eye the company has 11 shops running the system. “We’ll have three more by the end of August. And then another four or five after that,” he says.
Treschak describes himself as a “computer head” and did most of the programming himself. The hardware was bought off the shelf. “You have to lean on technology today. That’s how you stay out front,” says Treschak.
He describes the system as an evolution in terms of service. “I’m anti-commission when it comes to sales people. None of our sales guys here are on commission. When salespeople are on commission and they come into a shop they’re thinking about their mortgage, not taking care of the shop’s inventory levels. Our salesmen are no longer really salesmen, they’re a support mechanism. They’ll ask, ‘Do you need training? Let’s get that done.’ There are no commission-based salespeople loading the stock room with product,” he says.
That this family-based company came up with the system is impressive. But Treschak has been doing business in the Niagara region and throughout Southern Ontario for decades.
“We’ve got the soul of a mom and pop shop, but the efficiency of a corporation,” says Treshak. His brother has an MBA and works with the firm on a quarterly basis. “It’s a real family operation.”
He grew up in the industry, running the store for his father in high school. But he took a break when he went off to university and took a degree in acting. That led to a career as a professional stuntman. Treschak still teaches stage combat and does five to ten shows a year as a fight director “Everyone in this industry has a side job. For most it’s fixing cars. Mine just happens to be fighting for fake,” he says.
He came back to the industry after a run-in with Peter Kent, the stunt double for Arnold Shwarzenegger. Treschak did a press tour with Kent and heard too many stories about the injuries and pain it caused the stuntman’s family.
“He had some terrible stories about having to tell his family about injuries sustained on the movie Eraser. I didn’t want to be in the position of having to call my daughter and tell her daddy can’t come home tonight,” says Treschak. Instead, he asked his dad if he could come back to the family business. Don said yes. Business has been booming since. “I enjoy working with the family. It’s been great,” he says.
For more information on Treschak Enterprises, please visit treschak.com.