Wetherill Associates revs up growth

Parts supplier reduces complexity to prepare for expansion

As automotive electrical components supplier Wetherill Associates saw its staff grow and sales boom, IT Director Ralph Presciutti wanted to reduce complexity to balance growth.

The company already had a Baan Solutions’ ERP system in place and was using an Oracle database on three Sun systems bought in 1999 to ensure Y2K compliance. But that meant supporting a Unix-server and Windows-client infrastructure, and adding two or three Sun-specific IT staff to the two already dedicated to that platform. Overriding consultants’ advice to stay on that path and to get more powerful servers, Presciutti decided to move entirely to Windows, simplifying the skills needed in the IT department and eliminating the need for additional staff. Although the Windows servers cost 30 percent less and had a cheaper maintenance contract, the real savings was in not hiring the additional IT staff.

Outside of ERP, Wetherill’s growth required strengthening the network and security architecture, especially as more remote sites were opened. But its Cisco equipment and management tools have largely scaled to the network growth, requiring little additional hardware. The bigger change was altering the topology of the connections among the sites to ensure redundancy if any one link went down in the Qwest-managed data pipelines.

As Wetherill acquires small distributors, it replaces its systems -- typically JD Edwards front-office apps running on older IBM servers -- with its Windows-based Baan and Oracle systems to ensure consistency.

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