Nelson Bros Ready Mix is a family-owned concrete company held by local residents of Lewisville, Texas and is celebrating its 70th year. NBR currently has 5 locations and over 86 mixer trucks with plans to expand. NBR made the “jump” to the cloud by adopting Sysdyne’s ConcreteGO cloud Dispatch and iStrada Cloud delivery management system to improve their operations and the company’s bottom line. We sat down with Nelson Bros Vice President Don Desch to talk about how switching to cloud dispatch and paperless ticketing improved their business and put them in a stronger position to compete.
My work background is typical for this industry, I started off as a driver progressing into dispatch, concrete sales, operations manager, and ultimately ended up Vice President for a concrete company in Denver, Colorado. I took several executive positions over the years and eventually made my way to Las Vegas, San Antonio, and now Dallas/Fort Worth where I am currently the Vice President at Nelson Bros Ready Mix in Lewisville, part of the DFW Metroplex.
I have been in this industry for close to forty years now. Continuing relationships with customers/vendors and employees is gratifying. Looking back on my time in the industry, every step of the way, from mixer driver to my role today, I was fortunate to have great mentors. Mentorship is an important part of my job that I enjoy.
It has been a year since we went live. Initially, we ran ConcreteGO parallel with the old dispatch system for roughly 6 weeks, placing orders into ConcreteGO and getting trained on the features, until the old dispatch system failed just before the transition. We weren’t necessarily ready to jump into ConcreteGO full-time. We were about four weeks away from our planned go-live date for ConcreteGO, but were able to seamlessly transition over and ship concrete the same day. We had a very good positive experience being on the cloud, if we had not been on the cloud that day, we would have really struggled to get concrete orders shipped to our customers. Sysdyne showed us the value of using a hosted service that is not in our office, it allowed us to satisfy our customers on that day. Due to the virus going around, our dispatchers are scattered a little bit, the beauty of the cloud is some of our guys are working from home and all they need is a web browser to get into ConcreteGO and start their day. Another advantage of the cloud is that information is easy to grab, which also ties into paperless ticketing. Dispatch and delivery information is easily accessible at any time so we can track performance and make decisions that best serve our customers. We try to be innovators and offer exceptional customer service. One part of providing great customer service is having a robust system and cloud technology which allows us to offer added-value services. Again, I think back to the day our old dispatch server went down and we were forced to prematurely rely on ConcreteGO though we were weeks away from our official go-live date. As a result of this experience, we felt confident that we would be successful when we implemented ConcreteGO. Hats off to both teams for making it a very easy transition.
We had a very good positive experience being on the cloud, if we had not been on the cloud that day, we would have really struggled to get concrete orders shipped.
We believe that we were one of the first suppliers in our market to transition to paperless tickets. It used to be a very arduous task for our back-office staff to pull up the orders from the prior day or days and have to type the information in manually to create customer invoices. The way ConcreteGO works with our accounting now cuts that time in half. The invoicing and ticket management side is now very simple. When we used to get done with deliveries for the day, the batch plant would have to put all the tickets together and have them couriered to a central location. Someone from the back office would then have to retrieve the stacks of tickets and take them to the office where another person would prepare them for invoicing. In all, we would have the driver, plant manager, courier, and accounts receivable all touching the tickets. When the paper tickets were being sorted by the clerk to give to accounts receivable, there sometimes would be missing tickets. They would then have to sift through stacks and stacks of boxes of tickets that could easily consume about half of the clerk’s day prior to getting the information to accounts receivable.
So now what happens, accounts query the accounting system and sort by the customer and then send an email invoice out to our customers directly. It’s very seamless and very accepted in the market. In fact, if customers want the delivery tickets with their invoice, we can offer that easily too. All the information is in digital format, so that part has worked out really well; nice and clean. Our current integration with ConcreteGO Cloud dispatch and iStrada Paperless ticketing has cut our invoicing time down by 2/3.
Our current integration with ConcreteGO has cut our invoicing time down by 2/3
The drivers have gotten used to using Sysdyne’s iStrada delivery management in getting the signature and putting in notes like adding water at the plant or job site onto the tablet. We have a wide range of commercial and residential customers, and the market acceptance has been good with only a few municipalities looking to continue using paper tickets. Initially, many of the customers were apprehensive and still wanted the paper version, but that has changed over the years. For example, let’s say we have 75 orders today, we will probably have one customer who still wants a paper ticket. Even then, we recommend getting the ticket emailed, it’s so much faster and so many people have grown accustomed to receiving tickets by e-mail instead.
As an added value, we also provide our customers the option to download their tickets online using the iStrada portal. We have had a high level of success with customers who we have invited to log in to use the iStrada App to see how things are coming along in the field using the mobile dashboard. The dashboard offers a lot of key insights into the delivery process including, yards poured, yards delivered and yards remaining. Other customers prefer to get SMS text and email notifications. There is a really neat feature in ConcreteGO where when the truck leaves the geofence of the yard, it sends a text to the customer in the field with the order number, truck number, number of yards on the truck, and where we stand on total yards delivered to the job. The information is real-time, and the customers get what they want. It saves on the phone calls coming in to dispatch but it also shows we are trying to take care of the customer.
We are excited about all the new things you have to offer. We will be a one-million-yard company is not far too long and without people like you, we can’t get there
With iStrada, we have the ability to pull up the map on our phone and see where all the trucks are in real-time. The other fun part is there is no latency. When it says the truck is a mile away from the job site, it is. It’s very accurate. If you have never worked in this business, some of this might not look like much, but when you have been in the business for as long as I have, and you know what is out there, you really appreciate these tools and how it makes the job a little easier.
We would like to utilize the tablet more fully, such as taking pictures if there are issues at the job site. The photos taken on the tablet are tied to the delivery ticket and time-stamped. The trick is the constant training with the drivers, much like anything else, it takes a little time to change habits, but we are much better off than we were a year ago. Using iStrada and Paperless Ticketing is a lot more convenient and efficient especially when it’s done right, it’s a great tool to have.
We haven’t really taken advantage of all that yet, we know it’s out there and we do want to take advantage of statistics. Right now, we are focusing on taking care of driver times and delivery performance which is huge in our industry. But you have to be careful, I have worked with companies that hired 2-3 people to work on statistics, but what I found is that if you don’t take action on the information, it’s not of much use. So, we are looking to capture and use more business intelligence but more importantly, we will be looking to leverage the information that makes the most sense for our business. Another thing we look forward to doing is to take advantage of Sysdyne’s new Pioneer Cloud batch and become a 100% cloud-based concrete business. I look forward to learning more about Pioneer Cloud Batch and seeing it in action sometime soon. As we grow in size and sophistication, we require systems that are easily adaptable to our business needs and those of our customers, and we find this with Sysdyne.
We have always had an open line of communication with Sysdyne about how and when issues would be taken care of, and they always follow through. The Sysdyne team’s response time is well above average and courteous. After a year of working with Sysdyne, we have still not explored all they have to offer, and there are still some things we could be using more of, but overall it has been a very positive experience working with Sysdyne.
Overall, it’s been a very positive experience having you guys come on-board, easy to work with, responsive to our needs and you don’t give up