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Auto-Wares: Enable is a game changer for managing complex B2B deals

$140m inventory
1100 product lines
10 distributor centres

Auto-Wares Group of Companies is amongst the largest automotive aftermarket distributors in the U.S. with annual sales of 330 million and growing. Founded in 1976 with humble beginnings in Grand Rapids, MI, Auto-Wares has grown into a substantial distribution network specializing in extensive inventory, product knowledge, and full-service programs. The company has over 200 company-owned stores and operate in five states.  

We recently spoke to John Sanford, Vice President of Procurement at Auto-Wares, whose been with the company for 15 years, to learn how they plan to benefit from implementing Enable.  

Enable will be a game changer  

John explains, “It’s been a total challenge, and we really look forward to implementing your tool! Our current ERP was built in-house many years ago and evolved to meet our needs, but we capture our deals by line in our ERP system. It’s a challenge to keep it current and to access it. There’s no user manual per se, because of the way it was built. With our steady growth and over 2000 employees training becomes very, very important. So, it’s not only capturing the deals, but keeping everybody on the same page as far as how to access them and what we mean by the terminology. From what I’ve seen from Enable, it’s going to be a game changer!”  

John further explains, “All the rebates come through my team, and we deal with where they need to go within the company, so it’s important. It’s over 10 million and it grows every year. We need to know, are we receiving the right amount? Did we receive it on time? And then to accrue or forecast for what you should receive and when, as well as, taking advantage of tiered rebates if you hit a growth target. Our previous tool was spreadsheets, we knew there was an opportunity to improve our process here, but just didn’t know a tool like Enable existed.”  

Enable will support the complexity that comes with acquisitions   

John says, “As our company grows and our industry, the bigger distributors are going to continue to grow by acquisition. As we grow, our product lines will continue to grow too (currently manage over 1100) and we look for partners that we can do the most volume with, where there’s the most benefit financially. So that means we’re constantly changing lines and then improving our deals, which then increases the rebate dollars. We really needed a tool like Enable to help us get our arms around this, because it’s only going to grow that aspect of our business.”  

How did you hear about Enable?  

John says, “I want to tell you a little story. I get a lot of phone calls, being in purchasing. A lot of them, I don’t have expectations that there’s going to be any fit for what the person on the other end is calling with and what we our needs are. I got a call from Harvey Walker at Enable, and he’s got the UK accent. That was intriguing. He was telling me about the rebate software and asking a couple of probing questions. I’m thinking, those are good questions. We have a definite need for a tool like that, and that relationship evolved over a course of a couple weeks. He wasn’t pushy, but it kept my interest, and kept me digging, asking questions that then led to us being a partner with Enable. I’m very excited!  

John continues, “Your team has had great answers for every question. We’ve brought more and more of our team into the meetings with Enable, so it’s gone well beyond the questions I would have and how your tool would fit within my team such as, AR, with our buyers and our leadership. Many of these departments are going to benefit from this tool.”  

Enable is a must have for managing rebates  

John explains, “The Enable team are very professional. Communication has been awesome. You’ve got to see the demo that’s the game changer, that’s when you realize you’ve got to have it if you’re in an industry like ours, or maybe some of the other industries that have a lot of rebates and deals.”  

How will Enable change how you handle rebates? 

John says, “I guess, you don’t know what you don’t know. In this case, we have an idea of what we should be receiving on rebates, but we don’t know that we’re receiving everything we should be on time. I’m confident that we will receive the rebates that we’ve earned on time once we’re up and running. With Enable being secure, this is going to be our go-to for our company for all our deals, so I know it’s going to help us, and I can envision the ways it’s going to help us, but I think it’s going to go well beyond that.”