HTH Companies is an industrial contractor operating throughout the Midwestern United States, and beyond.
HTH is a busy company – they work with large-scale food and grain processors, ethanol producers and provide numerous services such as industrial maintenance, mechanical installation and scaffold erection.
To keep up with its growing customer base and broad set of offerings, HTH employs more than 500 people, some working in very remote locations.
With such a large operation spanning a significant geographical area, HTH needed an intuitive, nimble and well-designed software to manage its purchasing process, as well as provide real-time data for head office.
Procurify was that software.
Here’s what Mike Freese, director of finance at HTH, had to say about what Procurify has meant to HTH Companies.
Q) HTH Companies has a long history. Can you describe what HTH does? And, can you give us a glimpse of the storied history of the company?
“HTH Companies is based in Union, Missouri, about one hour west of St. Louis. We’re an industrial contractor that works out of 13 states, mainly in the Midwest. We have a little more than 500 employees and, mainly, work for large food and grain processors and ethanol producers.
“With that we do several service lines – we do industrial maintenance, we do scaffold erection, mechanical installation, we do mechanical work such as millwrights, welders and pipefitters. And, lastly, we take care of plant maintenance and make sure our clients are taken care of.
“HTH Companies, as a whole, has been around since 1984. The company has grown substantially over the years – what started out as a company just doing local installation has grown into a company that is doing substantially more business year in and year out.
“So, with that growth the need HTH ran into was we were starting to see we needed more technology, more systems and things that are able to adapt to our setup.”
Q) We’d like to start with a three-part question, to give us a sense of your company’s processes:
- Can you describe the size and scope size of your procurement process?
- Who oversees it?
- And, because you’re in industrial construction, are there any nuances or distinctive characteristics to purchasing and procurement in your field? Is there anything unique to procurement and purchasing for an industrial construction company?
“In total, we had more than 2,000 purchase orders created in Procurify in the last six months or so. So, if you divide that by month, you have almost 350 purchase orders per month.
“Right now, I am the maintenance person that takes care of, and oversees, the process. We actually identified the need for a person to do that because the system gives us the ability to see that need. We think the next step is, with better tracking of our vendors and our spend, we can leverage the data to help gives us advantages with vendors we see large purchases with so we can actually negotiate rates as well.
“In terms of hallmarks of the industry, or issues with the industry, is the amount of stuff we rent. And, actually, Procurify helps us with that as well. Renting is a tough situation because you may have the idea that you are going to rent something for a week or a month, but it ends up being a much longer period. A lot of that is billable back to our clients, so it is very important that we keep track of that on both the front end and back end, to ensure that it is billed out correctly.”
Q) What problems did you historically experience in your purchasing process? What was going wrong?
“For us, what was going wrong was that we didn’t have an advanced system for purchasing so it was hit or miss on how we were doing our purchasing. By putting in the system it helped rein everybody in so we could identify who was purchasing, give people the authority to purchase and give them a system that would work with them out in the field.
“The web-based solution was huge for us because we have a bunch of guys out in the field with iPhones or devices – tablets or something of that nature – and they can get on their system, get a wireless connection and purchase in real time.
“The big thing for us was also that the purchasing system we chose allowed us to purchase and approve quickly. A lot of times we can turn a PO in a day or less with Procurify, which in previous places I’ve been is unheard of. They didn’t have the ability to do that like Procurify.”
Q) How did Procurify help?
“HTH Companies has quickly seen Procurify has several benefits to us, in several avenues. We are using the system, right now, to put in a requisition, and we use it for the approval process. Once a request is approved, it kicks back to the original requester and they have the ability to buy what the want from our vendors. They make sure they attach the PO to the purchase, so it becomes a legal purchase in our system.
“We currently have about 30 users in the field using Procurify. When we set up Procurify, we needed a system that was very nimble and web-based because the nature of our business is very much on-demand. Things are done at a moment’s notice. For example, this weekend, if we had a customer that had a power outage and dryer that blew up at a large site, we would have to be there immediately to fix the problem. In that type of situation, we would have to buy things on the fly. Procurify gave us the ability to do that.
“Also, we have, probably, a little less hard stops or restrictions in the system because we wanted to make sure our business model and flow stayed the same. The good thing about Procurify is that it let us do that. Some systems really bog you down, forcing you to fit into a particular model. Procurify really works with the customer, which is really similar to our business.
“So, Procurify is giving us a platform to work on, it is giving us a tool that allows us to continue doing business under our business model and it is expandable for us. I see Procurify doing much more for us in the future.”
Q) Now that some help has arrived what does that allow you to do? Does this open up potential capital cost savings down the road? Or, have savings been found in areas such as increased employee efficiency or a decrease in admin time?
“Procurify will help us control our costs. As we get more data and a better idea of what we are spending – because of Procurify we are already very aware of what we are spending on safety supplies – it will gives us more avenues to say ‘these are projects we can work on now to improve our bottom line.’
“Everybody in business right now knows containing costs is a huge issue. Whatever business you are in, you can only pass so much on to the customer. Customers expect you to control costs because you are controlling the costs up the chain.”
Q) Was there anything in particular about Procurify that most impressed you, or you found most beneficial?
“The layout is easy. Some of our staff members aren’t tech-savvy, or astute at getting on their phones or tablets. But Procurify was picked up by our guys in the field a lot easier than I thought. They found it easy.”
Q) What attracted you to Procurify? Did reviews of Procurify also play a role in your decision?
“I did research on several different products. Some products were way too big and clunky for us – we just weren’t there. At the same time, I wanted something that we could expand on and that I could build upon, and I really felt Procurify gave us that.
“We did a trial with Procurify and found that the customer service aspect, the follow up and the innovation was by far the most advanced system that I was working with – and I ran several trials at the same time. I also identified the value of Procurify in the cost.
“I felt the team at Procurify was receptive to my ideas – they have implemented several things that I have asked of them, whether it be little things or not. Unfortunately for me, I don’t think I can keep up with all of the things Procurify brings to the table. The company has brought in so many improvements I haven’t even identified them all yet.”
Q) How important is having remote access to Procurify for your company? You have many different locations – is remote access a particular benefit?
“It is 100% essential. I say that because we couldn’t do business without a web-based platform. We could not use a PO system if we didn’t have a web-based platform. For example, we’re in places such as Arthur, Iowa and Menlo, Iowa, or Aurora, Nebraska. These places are very remote – they have cell phone signals and that’s about it. Our guys are working out of pickups, job trailers, they are working of places where you don’t have the ability to set up a laptop all of the time. It is very essential that they have a reliable online platform.
“I was gone one weekend recently at the lake and I had POs and other things come through and I could approve them as I needed. It was very little time out of my day and it didn’t deter me from doing it on my day off. Procurify makes it so easy that it is hardly work.”
Q) So, what is your message about adopting Procurify? What, ultimately, has Procurify meant to HTH?
“Procurify is adaptive, simplified purchasing. It is adaptive to both your business and changes in the marketplace. And it is simplified because the structure of the system is easy to follow – for people that have an accounting background and for people that don’t have that kind of background. Everyone can understand it and it feels right when you are using it.”