Business and Entertainment in The Golden State
SupplyPro: A Top-Drawer Company
By Donna Balancia, dbusiness.com
SAN DIEGO (dbusiness.com) – It started out as an idea two guys in the San Diego State Executive MBA Program conceived for their thesis.
Now, SupplyPro?s computerized cabinets, which dispense inventory, have $5 million in backing and are being used in companies around the country. SupplyPro CEO Bill Holmes and vice president of marketing Craig Collins have what is considered a successful product with a strong business plan.
“Our MBA thesis was done jointly,” recalled Holmes, “And the cabinet was a lot better than Craig?s idea.”
That was a skin cream for post-menopausal women. “You know, there are two other companies out there doing it now and they?re making millions,” Collins said in defense of his idea, abandoned for the SupplyPro cabinet. “But once Bill told me he thought his idea was better, I thought about it for 24 hours and agreed.”
The cabinet, originally developed by Pyxis for healthcare facilities, adapted easily to use in other companies. For example, the cabinet limits consumption of office supplies by recording usage and making employees accountable for supplies. In addition, it eliminates the need for telephone calls to different companies to re-order product.
The SupplyPro cabinet features a built-in computer that monitors stocked items and automatically reorders supplies as necessary. An ATM-like keypad grants easy access to employees, while keeping unauthorized users out. Internet technology may be used to allow employees to view cabinet inventory from their desktop computers, and place orders for special items that are not normally stored in the cabinet.
Among SupplyPro’s customers are some top-drawer names.
Collins says, “We have B.F. Goodrich, Solar Turbine, Progressive Insurance and some others. From a marketing standpoint, our strategy is now to go out nationally. We have salesmen in almost every major city.”
As for competition, Holmes says there aren?t too many companies around offering the same cabinet-style inventory product.
“But there are some dispensing-type machines, vending machines you?ll see in hotel lobbies,” he says. “That?s about the closest, so far.”
San Diego-based Pyxis Corp. pioneered the computerized cabinet market with products that controlled the shrinkage, usage and inventory of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Pyxis has installed more than 60,000 cabinets throughout United States healthcare organizations. The SupplyStation product was adapted by SupplyPro for introduction to corporate and government markets for the purpose of managing office supplies.
As a result, Pyxis is a partner on the product and has a licensing agreement with SupplyPro.
Holmes and Collins consider their product a “a point of use” e-commerce solution, a term they say they’ve coined.
INDUSTRY: Office supplies/technology
PRODUCT: Computerized cabinets that dispense office supplies
YEAR FOUNDED: 1997
MANAGEMENT: CEO William K. Holmes, President and CEO; Skip McDowell, Executive VP, Sales; Craig K. Collins, VP of Marketing; Dean G. Rosenberg, VP of Technology; Martin J. Bridges, VP of Finance
FUNDING: Tullis Dickerson $5 million; other private investors
FISCAL YEAR REVENUES: For 1999, $2 million projected
STRATEGIC PARTNERS: Pyxis
CUSTOMERS: Progressive Insurance, Solar Turbine, Encad, County of San Diego, B.F. Goodrich
COMPETITORS: None yet
STRATEGY: Expanding our sales staff and marketing efforts nationally
WHAT KEEPS THEM AWAKE AT NIGHT: The challenge to change a 50-year-old buying pattern.
CONTACT: SupplyPro, 6613 Convoy Court, San Diego, CA 92111; (619) 571-0414, Fax: (619) 571-0426; http://www.supplypro.com