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MasterTools supports growth of Chicago-Area Consumer Product Distributor

It’s sort of crazy to think about now, but Y2K was a real concern in 1999. When the calendar turned to the year 2000, would computer software know what to do? That’s the question that led Convenience Valet, which repackages and distributes trial and travel-size consumer products like Advil, Benadryl and Banana Boat sunscreen, to Online Computing.

“We needed an ERP system that was Y2K compatible,” recalls Ed Edick, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Glendale Heights, Illinois-based company. “A Google search revealed all the standard ones that were out there, and then there was Online Computing’s MasterTools. I said to myself,

'This is different.'"

What stood out to Edick at the time was not just MasterTools’s Y2K- readiness, but also its seamless interface. “We knew we wanted something that was easy to navigate from one module to the next,” he says.

The fact that he could have two or three modules open at once while using just one user license was compelling, too. So was Online Computing’s willingness to modify the software to its customer’s needs.

“I knew we would need modifications here or there, and I didn’t want to get locked into a supersized ERP that had to simultaneously meet the needs of 5,000 clients.”

What Convenience Valet has found with MasterTools is a willingness to make modifications when needed—but also the expertise to know when the requested modification is unnecessary.

“They don’t always necessarily do what we want, and we think that’s a good thing, because it shows they’re looking out for us, not their bottom line,” Edick says. “What we’re asking for might not be right, may not actually be what we’re verbalizing, or it might already be a functionality in the system. They have kept me out of hot water many times just by being asking questions.”

As the aughts turned into the 2010s, Convenience Valet has nearly doubled in size, growing to a more than $75 million operation with 5,800 active SKUs in its system. MasterTools has done more than just keep up with the growth, says Chief Financial Officer Barry Margolin.

“It has really enabled us to grow at a significant pace,” he says. “Its ability to handle our business at every stage has been impressive.”

Margolin started at the company in 2010, but his experience with ERP systems dates back three decades. He calls Online Computing’s customer support group

“one of the best I’ve seen in my entire career.”

As Convenience Valet has grown, so has its charitable giving program that resulted in donations exceeding $1 million annually to Children’s Miracle Network Hospital (CMNH) and Folds of Honor. Every time a specially marked package of certain health, personal care or automotive products is purchased, a portion is earmarked as a donation to one of the charities. It sounds simple enough, but it’s a complicated program to keep track of.

“It’s so important to us as a company, but it hasn’t been easy to know what items are eligible for the charitable contribution,” Edick says.

The first challenge is the fact that both the manufacturer and Convenience Valet kick in money for the donations. What’s more, qualified items might be sold in packages with non-qualified items. They could also be distributed to stores in kits that also include non-qualified items. On top of that, there are start and end dates to keep track of for the manufacturers.

Luckily, Online Computing had a solution—and it actually involved no modifications. “Using existing functionality deep inside MasterTools, we were able to create this massive spiderweb of information related to our giving program without necessarily having to mark every single item,” Edick says. “I had an idea, they had an idea, we met in the middle and it worked. Now we have a standard report. All we had to do was find it.”

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