TBM Sand & Storage Logistics

“Turning Sand Into Gold – It’s All In the Family”

In 2008, the principals of TBM Transportation Ltd., an Axon client, started a new venture in California – TBM Sand & Storage Logistics, LLC. Of course they looked to Axon to handle their information processing needs. TBM’s Renée Azbill spoke to us about their Axon experience.

Renée, tell us about your company.

Renée Azbill, TBM Sand & Storage Logistics, LLC

Renée Azbill, TBM Sand & Storage Logistics, LLC

“We started TBM Sand & Storage Logistics in November of 2008 to import ceramic (frac) sand that’s used in the fracturing of oil and natural gas wells.

“We bring in the frac sand, warehouse it, and keep track of inventory. I book the semi-trucks to take the product from our warehouse to wherever it needs to go.

“This is completely separate from our OTR trucking and logistics operations, which are handled out of Calgary.”

Were you involved in the original software implementation for your companies?

“I took the training and helped get everything switched over in Calgary, so I was comfortable with the system and confident enough to jump in when we started the new business in California.”

What made you decide to go with Axon?

“When it comes to the trucking businesses, I’m not quite sure because I wasn’t involved in that. But when we decided to start this business, it was kind of a no-brainer for us, since we run all of the systems off the same network based in Canada.

“That works out for me because I’m here in California looking after the office, and our CFO in Calgary can access our whole system. If I have a question, he can look over things and make adjustments. It’s nice because we can network from two completely different places.

“And for this company we had Axon set up the warehousing system and that’s worked out well.”

How did you find the training?

“The training was really good. Each person in the office had their own telephone training sessions.

“I picked up on it really quickly because to me the system is just logical. It’s easy to use, but it’s pretty intricate in that there are a lot of details that you could add to it.

“For me, the switchover was really easy. It took some of our staff a little bit longer, but once they got familiar with it, it eliminated a lot of stress from the business, so it was a good thing.”

How is the support from Axon?

tbm-sand-bins

“It’s always been good. Every time I call, someone’s available. When we first started, I had a lot of questions and someone was always there. If no one could help me right then, they were good about calling back in a timely manner so I’ve been impressed with the support.

“Sometimes I have questions about certain things, and I will call Axon, and they’ll just jump on our system, and we’ll be working at the same thing together. I’ll do an entry, and they’re able to look at it and say, ‘yes, this is right’ or ‘no, we need to fix that,’ and then it’s done.”

Of all the features in the system, is there one that you like most?

“I like the fact that things just flow through. Like when I put in an order for the trucking and it’s going to cost us x amount of dollars for this carrier, we know when we get their invoice, it’s already sitting there waiting.

“It’s really convenient because everything flows through from one point to the next, right through to the banking and the financial information.”

Has Axon helped staff productivity or morale in your other companies?

“It has definitely helped with the working conditions. Before, there was a point where the business was maybe a little unorganized, but Axon has helped to put everybody on the same page because everybody is looking at the same thing in real time.

“So I think it definitely has helped our employees to stay more organized.”

Axon’s actually allowed me to manage the office without having to hire somebody else, and that’s been nice.
In a business this big, for one person to be able to handle everything says a lot for the system.” - Renée Azbill, TBM Sand & Storage Logistics, LLC

How about in your California business?

“Actually, I have run this office since day one and we still haven’t hired anybody, so I handle everything when it comes to the computer system.

“My brother does more hands on. He manages the warehouse. He knows how to work the system if he needs to, but he does a lot more of the public relations and meetings and logistics and research and things like that.

“Axon’s actually allowed me to manage the office without having to hire somebody else, and that’s been nice. In a business this big, for one person to be able to handle everything says a lot for the system.

“I’ve actually had carriers and some business friends ask how we manage to do it, and I just tell them we have a really great computer system that allows us to do it because it’s so organized and everything we need is right there. It’s really beneficial.

“We are approaching a point in our business where we are looking to expand a little bit, so in the near future we might end up hiring someone else to help around the office.”

You’ve grown very quickly since you started this company.

“Yes, we’re very busy. We work very hard. In one day I could go through a hundred plus orders, so we definitely stay busy.

“My phone is ringing off the hook all day long, but it’s easy to switch modes because everything is just right there in front of me with Axon.”

Have you had any experience with any other kind of systems?

“Yes, [in our trucking operations] they ran a few different systems. They had Simply Accounting and another system that was specialized to the business.

“But you had to use two different systems and nothing flowed between them and you’d have to double your input, so it wasn’t very efficient.

“I think that Kevin [our CFO] likes Axon more because he finds it really nice to work with.”

How do you see Axon fitting into your future growth plans?

“I definitely see Axon being beneficial to us in the future. We’ve done well so far with what we have, and I know that Axon is good about any upgrades or anything that we need.

“So I know that in the future when we do start expanding, if we need a different module, if we need a different report, all I have to do is get in touch with you guys, and it’s accessible to us.

“We should be able to handle everything I foresee our business doing through Axon.”

What would you tell anyone looking at Axon who hasn’t made that leap yet?

“I just keep going back to the fact that everything is right there in front of you. It’s logical – everything is where you would imagine it should be, and the fact that it flows through from one application to the next, in real time, all of that together makes for better efficiency and organization.

“One of the keys to running a business is being organized and efficient. So I feel that that’s benefited us. It’s contributed to how we run our businesses.”

Is there anything more that Axon can do for you now to make your job easier?

“I couldn’t say anything right now because, like I said, we’re happy with the system. As long as you guys continue to be as accessible and prompt with our requests and stuff, then all I can say is just continue to do the job that you guys normally do.”

Has working in a family business posed any challenges for you?

“No, we’ve always been a really close, hard-working family so it’s been pretty easy for us. We all have a specific job to do in order to make the business run efficiently and successfully, and we get together at our monthly meetings and talk about things we need to work on or objectives for the future, stuff like that.

“Since we’re all personally invested in this business, we all go above and beyond what maybe a normal employee would because this is our family, this is our livelihood, this is more than just a business, you know? It’s our life, our retirement, and our future.”

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