Interstate Companies was founded in 1957. In continuous operation for over 60 years, it has become an industrial conglomerate focused on distribution, industrial product sales and manufacturing. It specializes in sales and support of heavy-duty trucks, final-stage vehicle manufacturing, sales and support of diesel engines, industrial bearing and power transmission products, industrial transmissions, power generation, transport refrigeration and other products. Interstate also provides industrial labor and contract assembly services. Interstate Companies consists of six operating divisions: Assembly Systems, I-State Truck Centers, Interstate BearingSystems, Interstate IndustrialSystems, Interstate PowerSystems, and Interstate Transport Refrigeration.
The company comprises 35 rooftops in 12 states in the upper Midwest and Rocky Mountain region where employees not only wear the company motto, Pride in Service on their name badges, they live it every day through their words and actions. As Charles Weedon, Executive Vice President of Interstate PowerSystems (the distributor side of the business) explains, “Our customers come back to us because of the level of service they receive. How we treat our customers really matters to us. Without them, we’re not in business.” Employees hold an equally valued position, and to ensure they are meeting expectations both internally and externally, Interstate Companies relies on customer satisfaction and employee surveys.
A Platform and Partner that Wanted to Grow in Our Industry
Interstate Companies is one of Procede Software’s longest-standing and largest customers. It is also unique in that both its dealerships and distributorships rely on Excede DMS—30 operating locations in all. Procede, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, had only been in business for four years when Interstate Companies first came on board, so the two businesses have a long history together. As Mike Miller, Interstate Companies Accounting Manager, explains, “We had been looking for a software package to run both our distributor and dealership locations, and we found that with Procede. We went live with Excede DMS in our I-State locations in December 2005.”
The two companies were a good fit from the outset. Landis Brozak, Vice President of Operations, Assembly Systems, describes the energy that fueled their relationship: “The early years were exciting. We had a platform and a partner that wanted to grow in our industry and that made development a high priority. We were embraced as a partner from the beginning, and that is the best type of relationship to have with a software vendor.”
New Opportunities to Grow and Collaborate
While the initial implementation went smoothly, Interstate Companies’ decision to transition from its more than 20-year-old AS400 custom solution to Excede DMS, with its modern user interface, came with some interesting challenges. Switching from a green screen-based system to a Windows-based system was a big adjustment for many of the users—some were not yet comfortable using a mouse—but Procede Software’s comprehensive training programs bridged the gap, and soon everyone was up to speed.
Shortly after that initial implementation, Interstate Companies acquired another dealership and decided to migrate it directly onto Excede DMS. This meant moving an unknown business into an unknown system, but through close collaboration and hard work by all parties—Interstate Companies, the new dealership, and Procede Software—the transition was successful and seamless. This set the tone for future implementations, and as Interstate Companies has identified new opportunities to grow and expand its business, the two teams have collaborated successfully many times over. In fact, because the companies have worked together so closely for so long, Procede has been able to streamline the full 16-week implementation process for new acquisitions down to approximately 10 weeks.
More recently, Interstate Companies worked with Procede Software to upgrade to Excede v10.0 and are experiencing the benefits of its newly updated user interface, one that is designed to customize the user experience and increase productivity. And while Interstate Companies’ team now all have deep experience with Windows-based user interfaces, the company still took full advantage of Procede’s training services, this time to train power users within various departments. “The rollout was seamless, and it was easy to transition into the new system. Things look a bit different, the system’s more point and click, and it’s even easier to navigate,” said Mark Olson, Vice President of Operations, Central and East Regions, I-State Truck Center.
Partnering for Industry and Individual Success
Both Interstate Companies and Procede Software have grown together, and their collaborative working relationship has resulted in benefits to the broader industry. Interstate Companies was instrumental in the development of the Excede DMS integration with Vertex: they were already using it as their sales tax solution, so when they made the transition to Excede, Procede developed an integration. They also played a role in the development of the DMS/DTNA Uptime Pro integration which all DTNA dealers can now benefit from.
Interstate Companies was also key to the development of integrations with Decisiv and Elite EXTRA: today, both companies, as well as Vertex, are all members of Procede’s Certified Partner Program and integrate seamlessly with Excede DMS to significantly streamline operations at dealerships across North America. In addition, the Procede team has also traveled onsite to Interstate PowerSystems to learn about the many ways distributors are unique and different from dealerships, and as a result, has created several OEM integrations that are specific to that market.
Reflecting on the Past, Looking Forward to the Future
Reflecting on Procede and Interstate Companies’ long and fruitful partnership, Miller explains, “Looking back, everything we thought we would need in 2005, we were able to achieve with Procede as the functionality within Excede DMS developed. It has also allowed us to report on our operations in ways that we could only dream about then. The system has always worked well for us, and any challenges we’ve encountered have always been met by Procede.”
Looking ahead, however, Olson anticipates a changing industry. “Having spent 26 years in the industry, I can say trucks used to be much simpler. It’s clear big changes are on the horizon, and perhaps the biggest of those is electric vehicles. They are the future of our industry. And while selling a truck might not be all that different, as something fundamentally mechanical becomes more electronic, parts and service may be forever changed.” Weedon echoes those sentiments on the distributor side of the business: “When I first started, there was a two-step distribution process, and we were pretty specific to brand. Now, the model is much more service oriented, and we have more interaction with our customers as we work to keep them on the road. The industry in general and trucks specifically will continue to get more complex—particularly as the need for mores electronic diagnostics grows.”
Despite these changes, Miller is excited about what the future holds and the continued partnership with Procede Software, “Procede has always supported our growth and helped us meet past and present challenges. I’m looking forward to their continued innovation and ongoing collaboration with all the major manufacturers, and I’m certain they will help us deal effectively with future challenges, too. Simply put, they’ve been a great partner from the outset, and we have always worked well together.”
From Procede Software’s point of view, the feeling is mutual. As we celebrate 20 years in business and a rewarding, 16-year long partnership with Interstate Companies, we are looking forward to growing, evolving, and continuing to serve the industry, whatever changes and challenges it may face.