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BROADENING HORIZONS


EXPANDING TERRITORY

Vision aids technology at SiteOne Landscape Supply


SiteOne Landscape Supply is preparing itself to better serve the changing face of North America by adopting a new technology-led culture

WRIT TEN BY

JOHN O’HANLON PRODUCED BY

ANDY TURNER


O

n March 2014 Sean Kramer was appointed CIO of what was then John Deere Landscapes, two years later, moving home and

family from Detroit to Roswell, Georgia. A big step for someone whose career that far had seen him rise to senior IT leadership roles at iconic motor industry giants like DaimlerChrysler and, most recently, Volkswagen. But the last four years have been a time of unbelievable change for North America’s leading wholesale distributor of landscape supplies: he was keen to apply his skills to the challenge of maintaining John Deere’s reputation for integrity while leveraging IT to deliver outstanding customer service levels. 04

In 2014 John Deere sold a majority interest in the business to private equity investor Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CDR) and at the time not only Kramer came on board but also the present CEO Doug Black. In October 2015 the company changed its name to SiteOne Landscape Supply, launching its new identity at the Green Industry & Equipment (GIE+) Expo in 2016 at Louisville, Kentucky following its IPO on the NYSE in May that year. With over 500 locations in the USA and Canada, SiteOne is by a long way the largest wholesale distributor of landscape supplies for ‘green industry’ professionals in North America. It sells irrigation supplies, fertilizer and control products, landscape accessories, nursery goods, hardscapes, and outdoor lighting, along with a broad array of services designed to help landscaping contractors operate and grow their


BIO

Sean Kramer is a senior executive who is transforming business processes and leading digital transformation through innovative technologies and data analytics. As CIO at SiteOne Landscape Supply, he leads capacity planning for a rapidly growing company, manages applications (including ERP, POS, website) as well as infrastructure, network connectivity, integrations w/cloud systems and the security program. Sean oversees a team of seven IT Directors. 05

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“On the IT side we had to rebrand all our systems and forms down to the logos on the laptops” — Sean Kramer, CIO

businesses. Over four years, the company

THE PRIOR STATE CHALLENGE

has made 27 acquisitions, from single

That level of expansion would not have

location businesses to groups with up to

been possible using the IT infrastructure

33 branches, expanding product lines, for

Sean Kramer found in place when he

example in nursery and hardscape

arrived: “We took over a business that had

products, and enhancing each branch

a lot of operational instability. Basic IT

with access to the full SiteOne product

services such as email and point-of-sale

range.

(POS) were very unreliable: we were


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running on hardware that should have

strategic partnership with Microsoft,

been retired years before and our server

establishing that its Dynamics AX platform

room was in an office in Michigan. My first

would be, over the long term, the most

year had to be focused on operational

effective backbone ERP to support the

stability.� A legacy ERP system dating back

business as it grew.

to 1986 did not work with the POS system,

Deployment of the new system took a

so retiring that was a priority: Kramer and

full year, and at the same time the business

his team worked hard to establish a

was grappling with rebranding from John

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Deere to SiteOne Landscape Supply across the entire organization. “There was massive change management challenge,” he recalls. “Our operational teams had to change the imaging in the stores, delivery trucks and signage. On the IT side we had to rebrand all our systems and forms down to the logos on the laptops.” At the same time, the company was preparing for an IPO – as anyone who has been through this process will appreciate a public 08

company has to work in a very different regulatory environment from a private business. Readying the systems for compliance best practice presented a major challenge for the IT team, but there were yet other large pieces of the jigsaw that could not be neglected.

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR COMPLEX ISSUES As the outward face of the business the company website is just as important as the name over the door of the branch office. A new website was launched in 2018 after two years of development – and it’s still a


work in progress, he emphasizes. “Optimizing our e-commerce capability is the driver here. For example we put in a new pricing engine with real B2B capability – after all we had to make sure that our pricing was consistent not only at the point of sale but across the website as well.” To help customize and optimize Dynamics AX to manage trade and revenue management complexities, he brought in a new technology from FlintFox – again after exhaustive consideration of available packages. Integration of the diverse acquisitions the company would be making threw up issues that could adversely affect the SiteOne brand. Product duplication was a case in point he recalls, where the company that was being integrated had its own product listing, pricing and customer data that could frequently overlap and conflict with SiteOne’s existing record of the same products and customers. E-commerce being seen as an important service enhancement for SiteOne’s customers going forward, he selected integration platform as a service (iPaaS) Dell Boomi to manage the integration layer and the SAP Hybris platform, a cloud-based suite of highly integrated products for online selling. “Hybris gives our customers the ability to order products online for either delivery or pick-up, as well as to create lists for commonly purchased products. We were fortunate to have Dave Brower (VP of Marketing) and Colleen w w w. s i t e o n e . c o m

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S I T E O N E L A N D S C A P E S U P P LY

Romero (Director of Digital Marketing) join our team and help lead this implementation. They have a track record of launching successful ecommerce platforms and made sure we had our bases covered.” The problem of data management was addressed by partnering with Information Builders to implement Omni-Gen, a single platform for generating applications combining data integration, data quality, and master data management. Omni-Gen has reduced confusion when acquired businesses are integrated and helped expedite the process. SiteOne uses the platform to govern product lines and related 10

variables such as color, size and texture. It also helps to standardize the customer data to ensure it’s consistent across the board. “With ecommerce , we can provide an efficient system for our customers to order that they haven’t had before. We’re excited to partner with them on how to make the system even better going forward. With e-commerce working for us, we are now able to turn our attention to a mobile app focused on improving the efficiency of inventory management in the branch, as well as checking out customers quickly to allow them to get to the job site faster and save labor cost. “

SUCCESS THROUGH STRONG COLLABORATION As a wholesale distributor, SiteOne lives according to how well it satisfies its customers. AUGUST 2018

“Advanced analytics is an opportunity for us to further enhance our 360-degree view of the customer” — Sean Kramer, CIO


TECHNOLOGY

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When it came to restructuring the IT

systems each business unit leverages to

department to support future growth and

run its core business. “This close

build more capabilities, Kramer and his

partnership with our functional teams is

manager , Executive Vice President Ross

part of our secret sauce.” says Kramer.

Anker, felt it was imperative to align the

Sean also established an “Enterprise

application development team with the

Services” side of the department which

business units they support. He broke his

handles among other functions the

application teams into four different

service desk, end-user computing,

groups: Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain,

infrastructure & technology, and cyber

Finance & Accounting and Acquisition

security. Last year, they migrated their

Integration. Each is led by a Director well

data center out of that office in Michigan

versed in the business processes and

and into two well-established co-location w w w. s i t e o n e . c o m


S I T E O N E L A N D S C A P E S U P P LY

12

AUGUST 2018


TECHNOLOGY

13 sites. Their security program has continued to evolve. Starting from scratch at the beginning of his tenure, SiteOne’s Chief Information Security Officer, David Black, has brought in technology and processes to help combat vulnerabilities daily. As the team looks to the future, SiteOne partners with many security firms to proactively address new risks when they surface.

THE TEAMS THAT DELIVER He personally interviews every new member of his team. “I want to know that they understand our culture, and that they hear it from me.” He has not found it hard to attract people hungry to work at a fast-growing company that is bringing in new

“HYBRIS GIVES OUR CUSTOMERS THE ABILITY TO ORDER PRODUCTS ONLINE FOR EITHER DELIVERY OR PICK-UP, AS WELL AS TO CREATE LISTS FOR COMMONLY PURCHASED PRODUCTS” — Sean Kramer, CIO

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technology. True, he says, to this point it has been mainly what he calls ‘foundational technology’ driving the functionality of Dynamics with partners like FlintFox, Hybris and ServiceNow, but the team realizes that they will soon focus on enhancing customers’ ecommerce experience and evaluating new technology that can be put into the hands of these customers to improve their business processes. “Like everyone else, SiteOne Landscape Supply. Stronger Together.

we want to further develop our analytical capabilities. You see it in all areas. I saw it in the automotive industry: advanced analytics is an opportunity for us to further enhance our 360-degree view of the customer. The landscape industry can be impacted by many different factors - weather, construction, etc. As

AUGUST 2018


TECHNOLOGY

we expand our product offering, this

He doesn’t regret the move from

analytical data will show correlation

Detroit to Roswell either. He does

with the desires of the local market.”

prefer the Georgia weather, but what

IT at SiteOne is essential to deliver-

inspired him more was the constant

ing the corporate strategy, which Sean

support he has had from Doug Black,

Kramer summarizes as establishing a

Ross Anker and the senior leadership

full product line offering in every major

team. “We have had tremendous

market for the landscape contractor in

support from our CEO and the

North America. “We have to make sure

executive leadership. I have never

that we continue to be the best

worked anywhere where we’ve had the

wholesaler that the landscape

teamwork and the support that the

contractor has ever seen. We want to

technology department has received

stay ahead of the curve in terms of

here.” Without that support, he

technology, making sure the customer

concludes, he couldn’t have moved the

experience is world-class in itself – and

state of SiteOne’s IT from low tech on

head and shoulders above the rest of

life support, to being a real driver for

the industry!”

future growth.

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300 Colonial Center Parkway, Suite 600, Roswell, Georgia 30076 For questions please call 800-SiteOne www.siteone.com

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