TBC Trucking Corp. – Alison Lohman

“A Very, Very Easy Software System to Learn”

TBC Trucking Corp., of Pen Argyl PA, is a subsidiary of Techo-Bloc, North America’s premier manufacturer of landscape and masonry paving stones. In this interview, Techo-Bloc’s Alison Lohman speaks out about their Axon® experience.

Tell us about Techo-Bloc and TBC Trucking.

“We manufacture concrete blocks for paving stones and retaining walls. Until recently, we had been paying other trucking companies to haul our product to our dealers. In 2005, we bought trucks that worked under Techo-Bloc hauling our product, and the owner of the company decided that he wanted to find more trucks and it was decided to make it a separate company. Our only customer isn’t Techo-Bloc, but we pretty much only haul landscape products.”

It’s just a very, very easy software system to learn. Once everybody in our office was a little bit familiar with it, and they were actually putting live stuff in there and using it on a daily basis, they said, ‘Oh, my god, this is easy!’ It’s working for me; I don’t have any issues. – Alison Lohman

Tell us about your experience with Axon®.

“It’s very easy. If you’re familiar with Windows-based programs to start with, it’s very easy to get around the system. It’s very easy to get from one screen to another. We have other accounting software that we use for the Techo-Bloc side. Using it, if you want to get into the general ledger or the business plans, you have to exit, go into another screen, and it’s just a lot of back and forth, where with Axon®, there’s so many different ways that you can access whatever it is you’re looking for from where you are. It’s very easy. They took us through the training, but what really helped us, I think, was entering [our actual data], because you actually got to see what the software did and what it produced. When I started entering some of our previous data, I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty easy!’ It was great.”

What are some of the problems that you were encountering prior to working with Axon®?

“Fuel tax was an issue because we were just doing it on an Excel spreadsheet, and there was no way to really double-check it. Now we enter the mileage right from the logs, and we put the fuel receipts right in. I can double check to make sure everything’s entered correctly so there are checks and balances where before it just wasn’t as easy.

Being able to run reports as far as how many miles we’ve run in which states is easy now. Everything was manual before; I would have had to go back and add everything up. Now, a couple of keystrokes, and it is done. So that is great.

In the past, our IFTA report was all a part of a database program that was set up in Access, and every time the report printed it was different, and I didn’t have any way of double checking anything. We had to say, ‘Okay, hopefully it’s right.’ But now I have some checks and balances and at the end of every month, when we get our fuel bill, I can double check the invoices with what’s in the system.”

Since spinning off the trucking company, has the workload increased significantly?

“When we were doing everything manually, yes, it was a pain. But now with the software, I do the billing daily so you know it probably takes me 30-40 minutes, from start to finish, and that’s not bad. It’s beautiful! And now we’re confident that the billing is done accurately.

It’s extremely timesaving. We had been doing the mileage and the fuel manually before on a spreadsheet, and it was time consuming because we had no way of double checking anything – there were no checks and balances. It was just a matter of entering it and hoping that it was correct. But this way, now, it gives us more information and we do have some checks and balances in place.

We just had our first audit. They said everything was wonderful because they asked for some specific information, and I was able to print reports for all the information they were looking for with the dates they needed. They were able to gather pretty much all of their information from the reports they requested, so it made it very easy.”

Has Axon® helped your customer relations with TBC and with your dealers?

“Oh my gosh, yes. In fact, I had a customer yesterday who we email invoices to, and something happened with their email and they hadn’t received a couple of invoices so they called me. It was very easy for me; I just went in and printed a customer statement and went through it with them. A five-minute conversation and we were all on the same page. To be able to pull up a customer’s history in maybe three keystrokes is very nice.

I know when I call one of our suppliers and I need to know something and they put me on hold forever, it makes it more frustrating because you’re trying to deal with an issue or you have somebody standing over your shoulder wanting to know this information. So to be able to get that information to the customer quickly is great.”

Tell us about the support you receive from Axon®.

“Very good. I call with a question, and if they’re not sure, they’ll usually be back to you within a half an hour. I’ve never waited longer than that for an answer and a solution.

Axon® does backups of our system at night and if something posts wrong or something looks funny at the end of the day when they do their checks, it pops up an error message and somebody calls you because they don’t want your accounting or your files to be a mess. I think that’s kind of cool that when something was wrong, somebody called me the next day and said ‘I’m going to help you fix this.’”

Axon® software is fully integrated, in Real-Time, which means that when you enter information, it instantly updates all of the areas it affects. Has that been beneficial to you?

“Yes, and our comptroller absolutely loves it, because with our software for Techo-Bloc he actually has to go in and post everything and if I have to fix something I have to call him and let him know because he’s got to do whatever he needs to do first before I can change it at my end because he has already posted it. Whereas with Axon®, any adjustments are automatically posted to where they have to go. And if you void it, you don’t have to go back in to five different screens and spend an hour to fix the adjustment; it just does it.”

How did you find the training?

“Very helpful. What helped me the most was actually going in after a day or two of training to put in some of our real information to see what happens. After actually going in and putting in some orders and invoicing them, I thought, “Oh my god, where have you been?”

How do you handle the dispatching in your office?

“When Techo-Bloc receives an order, they’ll get the bill of lading together and call us. Rick in our office will check the schedule through the dispatching screen to find out who is already full for the day, who is free or who is hopefully coming back in a certain amount of time. He enters all the orders and he’s found it very easy. At any minute he can go in and pull up the dispatching screen and see where people are and estimate what time they should be back. Or we might get an order but they don’t want it until the next Monday, so he can go in and schedule it. Then, as he gets more orders he can see who’s scheduled for Monday, even though today’s only Thursday.”

If one of your peers in the industry were to ask you about Axon®, how would you describe your experience?

At any minute he can go in and pull up the dispatching screen and see where people are and estimate what time they should be back. – Alison Lohman

“I’d say it was great! To sum it all up, it just makes it so easy. It’s just a very, very easy software system to learn. Once everybody in our office was a little bit familiar with it, and they were actually putting live stuff in there and using it on a daily basis, they said, ‘Oh, my god, this is easy!’ It’s working for me; I don’t have any issues. I’ve never had any problems and, when I do call Axon® with a question, if it’s not answered right away, they usually back call within the half hour.”

When did you first begin using Axon® software?

“We actually started last July, after we got through the training and set-up, but the trucking company started April 24 of last year. So we went back and put everything in, since it was only a couple of months and right at the beginning it wasn’t a whole lot of checks being written or a whole lot of invoicing. We backdated everything and got everything in the software, you know on the accounting side, from April. So that way you know, from Day One, everything’s in there, the financials are totally correct, that kind of thing.”

How many bills would you create in the course of a day, typically?

“About12 invoices, but they’re all multiple-order invoices. I mean we probably do like for ten trucks; each truck does about three loads a day, so there’s probably about you know 30, let’s just say 30 orders a day and if all ten customers that we bill are being billed in that day, the most I would have would be about 30 invoices.”

Has the software improved your Accounts Receivable picture?

“Oh, my gosh, yes, because, like I said, in an instant I could print a statement, I could make a phone call to a customer, saying you have something out here that’s 30 days and it could be as easy as you know, mail gets lost – we hate to admit it, but it does. Like I said, yesterday I was emailing their invoices to them, putting it in PDF format and emailing it to them, and they were having problems with their email. So they hadn’t been getting their invoices. It was very easy for me. I just went back in, printed all their invoices for the month of April, sent them to them and it was that quick. It’s just not time consuming at all.”

Website: Techo-Bloc