"We make parts for large oil pumps being used 5,000 feet under the earth's surface in South America and Asia, with each pump actually comprised of two motors and three pumps," says Steve Adams, president of Adams Manufacturing in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
The company specializes in machining parts for submersible pumps used in oil production and water wells. The pumps range in size from 3 feet long with a 3.5-inch outside pipe diameter to large motors and pumps that each measure 30 feet in length and up to 10 inches in diameter.
The business is cyclical, mirroring changes in the oil industry. "It's up and down like a roller coaster," notes Mr. Adams. "Making schedule changes with our old DOS-based system was difficult and time-consuming."
Four years ago Mr. Adams went looking for a scheduling program to smooth out the bumps in his business. Two things he wanted were visual scheduling and a Windows environment. Mr. Adams decided to buy Vista from Epicor Software (St. Louis Park, Minnesota).
With Vista's visual scheduling, Mr. Adams now can see bottlenecks and possible solutions immediately, while the customer is on the phone. "This takes some of the responsibility off me and puts it on the customer, who often has multiple jobs in our shop. I can ask, `OK, Mr. Customer, if you want this job moved up, which of your other jobs do you want moved back?' And changes are easy—I just click on the job, drop and drag it, and I'm done," says Mr. Adams. "Responsiveness is a big part of delivering excellent customer service, and that's the name of the game."
Adams Manufacturing runs Vista on a Novell 3.12 network with four computers in the office running Windows 95, as well as CAD/CAM, spreadsheet, desktop publishing and word processing.
When oil prices fell last year, the company's backlog dropped from 5,000 hours to 320, and employment was trimmed from 34 to 10 people. "We hit bottom," says Mr. Adams. "But the accurate data provided by Vista helped us stay in business. It's my crystal ball into the future—the accurate, up-to-the-minute workload information from Vista helps me manage every aspect of my business. When the backlog is large, there is more room for making schedule adjustments," adds Mr. Adams. "But when the backlog drops, there is little room for error—and that's where Vista really makes a difference."
"I've looked at other software packages, and I'm still convinced that Vista is significantly better than everything else out there," notes Mr. Adams. "When I receive negative mailings from Vista competitors, they just reinforce for me that Vista is the one to beat because those other companies are afraid of it."