59. The Evolution of ERP in Distribution & Strategies for Success | Frank Heenan, Epicor

Episode 59

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The Evolution of ERP in Distribution & Strategies for Success

Joining the Driven by DCKAP podcast this week is Frank Heenan – Group Vice President at Epicor – to talk about the evolution of ERP systems, the importance of using tools like this to their full extent to grow your business, the role of AI within distribution, some of the best strategies to ensure success, how to best execute those strategies, and much more.

With over 25 years of experience working with Epicor and within distribution, Frank has seen the ups and downs of the industry. Having been at the company from its early days of growth to where it stands today as a leader in enterprise resource planning, manufacturing execution system, and distribution software, he has invaluable insights to share on what it takes to lead the industry forward. Tune in and enjoy!


Karthik Chidambaram: Hello, everyone. Welcome to a new episode of Driven by
DCKAP podcast. I'm your host, Karthik Chidambaram, CEO of DCKAP. We make
systems talk to each other for distributors. We are here in Nashville,
Tennessee, the city of music, and we have with us Frank Heenan, Global VP of
Distribution at LBM, Lumber and Building Materials, and Epicor Software.

Frank is a veteran industry leader, thought leader in distribution, and
spent his entire career in distribution. It's an honor to be talking to
Frank today. Frank, welcome to Driven by DCKAP and great chatting with you.
I'm looking forward to our conversation today.

Frank Heenan: I am too. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Karthik Chidambaram: Frank, you spent your entire career in distribution.
You spent over 25 years. You started with Prophet 21 right out of college.
You've seen the ins and outs, ups and downs of distribution. And today, you
are the Group Vice President of Distribution at Epicor. I'm just curious,
what does a Group Vice President do? You know, it's a big title, and what do
you do at Epicor?

Frank Heenan: I hang out all day on ESPN. No, no. So my responsibility is
primarily on the revenue side, so I have revenue responsibilities for the
two divisions of Epicor. And then I have dotted line responsibilities for
everything else. When it comes to developing the platforms professional
services, supporting the platforms.

Ultimately, the business is looking upon me to drive those two business
units for Epicor.

Karthik Chidambaram: Very nice. And so you primarily work with customers,
your teams and distributors.

Frank Heenan: Yeah. So if you look at the supply chain between the
manufacturer, distributor and retailer, my focus is 100 percent of the

So, and within distribution, there's many different sub-verticals within
that, all durable goods. So my first responsibility is the sort of the tip
of the spear which is to get the non-Epicor distributors to become an Epicor
distributor, as well as working with existing customers that may be on our
legacy solutions and moving them to the go forwards as well as our existing
customers on the go forwards and selling them products and services.

And then really when the fun begins, which is when the new client comes on
board, the teams that are implementing them, you know, riding shotgun along
those processes with certain accounts. And then when it gets to the end game
and they're launched and then they go within our support channels.

That's also areas where I get involved in. And then as it relates to cloud,
because we're transforming ourselves from being a traditional ERP to a
service provider. That whole experience or that whole journey just continues
to evolve and is a bit different.

Karthik Chidambaram: I was watching some of your interviews in terms of how
distribution works and your role in distribution. You talk a lot about
strategy being a core for a distributor and not just strategy but also
execution. Can you share an example of where a distributor uses strategy
really well and has some really big gains because of it?

Frank Heenan: Yeah, I’ll give you three areas. I think a lot of the focus-
I’ll use an analogy. There’s this movie out there called the Field of
Dreams, and in the movie Kevin Costner’s playing this part in the middle of
this cornfield and he says, you know, ‘if you build it, they will come.’ And
I translate that to e-commerce. A lot of distribution businesses have this
idea that if they build a website, business will come.

And that's the furthest thing from the truth. So that's where you need to
have a strategy. And when I say a strategy in that area is, what is it that
you're looking to automate? What's the message that you want to share with
your employees? Because think about it from an employee's perspective.

A lot of employees might sit there and look at the website as being a
competitor, like it potentially could take away from their job. And as we
all know, when you're in distribution, the job's more of a people driven
job, where you have to be able to answer a lot of the questions that they
may have about a particular product. That's the value add a distributor's
employee brings.

So, when it comes to e-commerce, I think you've got to lay out your
strategy. Well, what is it that you want? And in my opinion, an e-commerce
platform should be more around customer service and less around taking
orders. Yeah, you want to take orders, don't get me wrong.

But if I could free a distributor's customer service rep up from mundane
tasks. Did this product ship? Can I have a copy of my invoice? What's my AR
look like? You know, do you have this product available? What it costs. All
those things I just told you. They could be found on the website, let them
self service, and that frees that CSR up for revenue generating activity.

So the dynamic of introducing automation through e-commerce, strategically,
you need to think through what is it that you want to get out of that
website, what's going to be the impact to the customer, and what's the
revenue opportunity it's going to generate for your business.

And then the final pillar of that is When you define that strategy, then you
have to be able to execute against it. How are you going to market it? How
are you going to promote it? How are you going to drive business towards it?
That's one example.

Karthik Chidambaram: But what do you think, a lot of distributors struggle
with that. So really well said, in terms of, hey, e-commerce is not just
about generating sales and new orders, but it's about customer service.
There are very few distributors who do this really well. A lot of them
struggle with that. Do you agree with that assessment?

Frank Heenan: I agree with it, and I agree with it on twofold. One, they
lack content. So content sometimes can be a major challenge. Two, they lack
an ability to financially invest.

Like, they see what Grainger has to offer. They see what MSC has to offer.
They see this competitor, this little company out there called Amazon, and
they want all that capability, but they don't realize the investment those
organizations are making is significant.

So that's where we come in. We have to be able to offer the capabilities of
an Amazon, of a Granger from an e-commerce experience, but at a budget line
that most people can understand and consume.

All that being said, you (poor choice of words) but you get what you pay for
to an extent, right? So you really need to make sure you have a strategy.
And then from within that strategy, you have the content to support it and
you have the financial means to grow it because in any- and you have to make
investments in order for the technology to work for you.

I'd also add, a lot of it is you get out of it what you put into it. Like,
if there isn't commitment from the organization of driving to whatever
success factors you've put in place from a strategy standpoint, it will
fail. If the organization has built a strategy, built an execution plan and
has commitment from the top down and from the bottom up, you'll be

So there are simple things, but that's my opinion.

Karthik Chidambaram: Simple things make a big difference. And you also
talked about the content and the lack of content, so what do you think
distributors can do for content, right? Because that's a problem a lot of
distributors have. But what do you think distributors can do? How can they
stay ahead of the game?

Frank Heenan: I think one of it, some of the ways they stay ahead of the
game is exercising and looking at available third parties and the content
they provide, strengthening relationships with major manufacturing lines
that are out there.

And when I say strengthening relationships, it's not about- not only do I
want to carry your product, but I want to form a partnership that's mutually
beneficial. In order for us to do that, you could help me with content,
right? So I think it's a variety of different avenues. And then I think the
last thing is, is you have a workforce, hopefully at your disposal, that can
assist you in generating and driving that.

Karthik Chidambaram: Yeah, workforce, I mean, invest in that, invest in
workforce focused on content.

I was watching one of your interviews where you said, hey, a lot of
distributors, right? You have sales reps, men and women, they are customer
locations, and you really need to enable them to see the data, right? So,
ERP being more of an actionable platform, the orders the customer has
placed, or the inventory, the open invoices-

Frank Heenan: I got a lot of comments here.

Karthik Chidambaram: So, yeah, you talked about that actually. Very
interesting. But what do you think some of the challenges are there? You
know, I mean, in terms of implementing that fully and where does Epicor
stand in that regard?

Frank Heenan: I actually think it's a couple of things. So when we're at
home in a non-professional setting, there's all these great technology
platforms, Facebook, Instagram. My kids talked about this other one. I don't
even remember the name of it at this point.

But my point is you have these easy to consume, easy to use through whatever
methods you're comfortable with in a, in a day to day personal environment.
And then we switched that to the business environment, and I have these
enormous monolithic ERPs with all this different capabilities, and it's just

So, from my standpoint, it's- when it comes to mobile computing, when it
comes to AI, when it comes to, you know, arming your sales team with
information that is easy to consume and easy to digest. And prepares them
for whatever that next call is going to be.

So, you're out on the road, you're about to check in on one of your
accounts. You don't have a means of which to let me fire up my laptop, let
me VPN in. Like, you don't have a means of doing that. You need to be able
to consume the information through a mobile device, because everybody has
these things. And seeing information about the account. Do I have open
quotes out there? Are there orders that are stuck? What's their price card
that might be in? Do we have promos that are being pushed out?

All that information should be shared with the sales team that's easy to
digest, easy to consume, and then share it with the client without ever
having to go into the ERP. Epicor's vision is you're not necessarily ever
having to go into the ERP, but the ERP is that foundation point that's
feeding you information to make business decisions or execute and try to
sell the client something.

Karthik Chidambaram: Where does Epicor stand in this regard? So let's say
I'm buying Epicor software, I'm a distributor. Am I able to do that right

Frank Heenan: Yeah, there's- it's a journey. There's certain aspects of
everything I've described, absolutely. You can do that all right now. Mobile
computing, e-commerce platforms. You know, BI (Business Intelligence), AI
(Artificial Intelligence), and the key to that is developing. We've
developed use cases that are applicable to a distributor, you know, and what
I mean by that is a lot of times you AI is permeating throughout the world,

You and I both know this. We say certain keywords, and then all of a sudden
our feed things just start happening because devices are listening, right?
But what use case? What use cases are solving for distributorship. So,
Epicor's goal is not to build technology for technology sake. We're building
technology to solve business challenges for a distributor, and those
technologies could come in the form of AI, can come in the form of a variety
of other things.

As long as it has one key simple fact, and that is, I am solving a business
case that the distributor faces today or, more importantly, I'm solving a
business case that the distributor doesn't see today. But it's going to
affect them in the future, and that future either could be short term or
long term.

Karthik Chidambaram: Talking about AI. We are at the Epicor Insights
Conference, we had a great keynote by Vaibhav Vohra, Chief Technology
Officer at Epicor.

Frank Heenan: Yes, sir.

Karthik Chidambaram: He also demonstrated, like you said, the practical use
of AI at a distributorship or at a manufacturing unit, and how they
practically use AI. It's just not a fancy term, but how you use it. How do
you see AI being evolved in distribution? What are some practical uses of AI
are you seeing in distribution?

Frank Heenan: So my view of AI and distribution is a little different than
most. I think the first thing is developing a strategy that you’re not
scaring your employee. There are certain employees within distributorships
that can view AI as something that can take their job, and that's the
furthest thing from the truth.

Because there, it's not that it's going to take what you're doing today and
automate it, and thus eliminating you. No, it's taking what you do today,
automating it, and then repurposing you for some other function that's
critical to the business that right now AI is not solving for. Practical
business examples could be, you know, distributors throughout the world.

There was this fancy technology term that was supposed to be widely adopted
called EDI. And to this date, and I've been in this space a long time and I
used to have hair and now I don't, it's still not seamless. It's still not
perfect in most distributorships, whether you're an electrical house,
plumbing house, fluid powerhouse tile house, they're getting emails and
they're getting emails all the time from contractors looking for product,
either buying it or quoting it, and the process today, it comes into their
email box.

They take it, they might print it out, go into the ERP, key it, get the
quote. Email it back, what have you. There's a lot of redundancy. There's a
lot of error that can occur. Well, AI can solve that. If I receive an email
from a provider, a customer, sorry, that's asking you for a quote for a
certain product, AI should be able to render, read, and write into the
business system the quote.

Karthik Chidambaram: Do you see distributors using this effectively today,
or how far along are they?

Frank Heenan: There are. There are, I'm not gonna say thousands, but there
are a number of examples of distributors in our customer base that are doing
what I just said, specifically utilizing AI and freeing up employee time. It
goes back to my comment earlier, I would argue that in any distributorship,
65% of a customer service rep's time is non-revenue generating, and I'm
being conservative.

Things like AI, things like e-commerce, things like mobile computing, frees
distributors up from- getting away from the non revenue generating activity
and focus on revenue generating activity. That's the goal. The goal is not
to eliminate jobs. The goal is to free time up in mundane tasks, to automate
those tasks, to free the employee up to go out and generate revenue for the

Karthik Chidambaram: Today, we also heard Steve Murphy talk about- CEO of
Epicor, Steve Murphy talk about how ERP is evolving not just from a system
of record but a system of action. And you have been in distribution for over
25 years. How do you see ERP evolving? How has ERP evolved in distribution?

Frank Heenan: Oh, how has it evolved? ERP, the first I would say is, in the
beginning set, from a technology perspective, companies like Epicor, we
didn't view ourselves as an ERP 25 years ago. We viewed ourselves as a

And we viewed ourselves as focusing pretty siloed into distribution. And
where it's evolved is evolved from being, to Steve's point, a system of
record. It's evolved into a partnership. And what I mean by that is that we
need to continue to develop capability (I've used these words previously
but) that's easy to consume.

Take Apple as an example. Why does everybody love Apple? Because it's easy.
I can give (I actually have done this) I can give an iPhone to my 90 year
old mother in law and she can use it. Pretty straight away. Okay. If I'd sat
that same, my 90 year old mother in law, into an ERP system, I can almost
assure you she can't use it.

So where this evolution comes into play is, it's simplicity of function,
ease of use, and abilities for people to digest capability. They're very
simple thoughts, but at its core, within Epicor, it's developing
capabilities that are meeting those pillars and allowing, regardless of age,
people to consume the ERP, not let the ERP consume you.

25 years ago, those statements couldn't be said. Fast forward to today,
we're getting to the point where you could be utilizing product that- you're
talking to the ERP, you're just not in the ERP. That's the goal.

Karthik Chidambaram: So you get these systems integrated and they work with
the ERP and you get the output on the front end.

Frank Heenan: Yeah, we- our goal at Epicor for our clients are, just give
you the ability to perform your job.

How we solve for it? That's our problem. You benefit by us developing
capability allows you to perform your job in a seamless fashion.

Karthik Chidambaram: But why do some ERP projects fail?

Frank Heenan: I think that ERP projects that fail, they fail on a variety of
fronts. The first and most important is a lot of organizations look at an
ERP project as an IT project. And that is the furthest thing from the truth.

I can't tell you how many times, how many companies I work with that in
every presentation, IT is involved. And post-implementation, it's someone
from within IT that's driving that. And that's a problem. It's problematic.
ERP projects should be driven by the business.

ERP projects, they need to inform the end users of the why. Why are we doing
this? What benefit are we looking to gain from it? Because the end user, all
they care about is they just want to do their job. Right? So, projects that
are not driven by the business, projects that are not communicated as to the
why, have a high degree of failure rate.

If you adhere to those practices, you commit through it from the top down,
there is no turning back, we're doing this, those projects typically end up
successful. Is it a bumpy road sometimes going through it? Yeah.

I'll give you another analogy. If, if you went to your heart surgeon and
your heart surgeon said, 98 percent of the time I'm successful. How would
you feel? Right? Not real good.

So that's where, whatever ERP partner you partner with, you want to partner
with an organization that has done this many, many, many times. They know
what it takes to bring you through the process. Because at the end of the
day, for better or worse, an ERP is like your heart. It's the heart of your
business. And when you remove that heart, you better hope you're with a
surgeon that's more than successful just 98 percent of the time, because you
don't want to be the 2%.

Karthik Chidambaram: So it's about the partnership, like you rightly said,
right? So it's not just about the partnership with the technology vendor,
but also your implementation partner involved.

Frank Heenan: Yep.

Karthik Chidambaram: But how do you think, distributor technology vendor
relationship, how do you see that evolving? And, yeah, and you guys actually
do a lot of work in that regard. I was also watching the keynotes today,
where you guys talk about, hey, you partner with the customer and you
co-innovate together, and that's really interesting.

Can you talk a little bit about that? How has partnership evolved?

Frank Heenan: Yeah. So a lot of that is, you know, we look for companies
that are thirsting for feedback. They're thirsting for partnership. They
don't look at this as something that- I just bought this thing, and that's
it. And I'm never gonna deal with the provider again.

And the poor choice of words I use there, it's provider. We're your partner,
right? So. If we see a business challenge in a certain said market and we
want to form a partnership with maybe four or five companies in that said
vertical to attack a particular challenge, and we are going to go down that
path and co develop it, that's what we want.

Because what we don't want, what nobody wants, you don't want a developer, a
business analyst, you know, sitting in a cube somewhere, Coming up with this
great thing, they think, and then, ta da, here it is, and it's nothing what
I need. So, some of that has to do with your development process. So we
subscribe to an agile process where we involve the client and we involve the

And when I say the team - developer, business analyst, quality assurance,
customer - and we go through iteratively, jointly, through the development
process. So that way when we get to the end, it's done. Done. And you were a
part of it the entire way. Whereas the old waterfall method, you know, we
would go into our cube, we'd write a set of stereo instructions, we'd give
it to the developer who would code it, who would give it to the quality
assurance person who would test it, who would give it to the documenter to
document it, who then would say, this is ready for general release, and that
could be 15 months down the road.

Well, the world could have changed in 15 months. So when you get out at the
end of that process, it's like, ta da, and you're like, yep. And software
development is a highly, highly capital intensive business. So that process
I just described, we have invested millions in that. And when we're off the
mark, we gotta go back through and invest even more millions.

So, companies like Epicor, we can afford that because of our financial
strength. But a lot of smaller ERPs, they cannot. So 25 years ago, when I
started in this industry, from an ERP perspective, there was probably like
30 to 35. Today, it's a fraction of that.

Karthik Chidambaram: I was attending a customer success training, and when
they talked about, hey, you know, when you onboard a customer, it's good
that you go live ASAP. You know, you don't take that long cycle. So it's
important to go live soon so that everybody’s happy and that’s something
that you relate to.

Frank Heenan: Yeah, yeah. I mean, from a go-live standpoint, it's a couple
of factors. I mentioned the first why. Why are you doing it? And it's having
that two to three minute elevator pitch that you cascade throughout the
organization as to the why human beings by trait, if they understand the
why, They'll then determine whether or not, yep, I'm on board or nope. I'm

The second is, make it fun. And here's what I mean by that. Everybody
focuses on the go live. I'm going to give you another analogy. Think of a
war. And when you're in a war, the wars can be long. They can be
treacherous. They can be very time consuming, just not a great thing. But in
any one war, there's always these little battles.

And I view your implementation as- the go live date, that's the war. There
are certain battles in the war that you need to celebrate, because then
you're building momentum. If you just focus on the go live date, and the
date pushes, or moves, then the end user starts going, this is never going
to happen, this is never going to happen.

And they start losing confidence, the projects start losing steam. But if
you celebrate each victory in the battles, you're building momentum that
people are seeing the end, and the end is the go live, and then they then
celebrate the go live because you won the war. So, that's typically how I
articulate to folks, when it comes to this thing.

And, like I said, make it fun. You know, we're not putting people on the
moon. You know, it's not, it's not brain surgery. We are implementing ERPs.

Karthik Chidambaram: Enjoy what you do. Yeah. So you start- we talked about,
there's this good book called “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. Yep. That's a
great book to read as well for the audience out there.

Frank Heenan: Yeah. I've learned quite a bit by asking a lot of questions
and always, the question I always come down to is “why?”

Why do you do that? Why is that important? Why should we be going down this
path? And you start asking yourself that and you answer those questions
honestly, you'd be shocked where you can go.

Karthik Chidambaram: Yeah, not just on ERP projects, but even on anything
you do, right? Why am I doing it?

Frank Heenan: That's right.

Karthik Chidambaram: So you talked about feedback, and you also talked about
the voice of customer being a key part of your strategy, and you guys also
onboarded Rich Moore. You know, I saw Lisa Pope interview him on stage,
Chief Customer Officer-

Frank Heenan: Yeah.

Karthik Chidambaram: But what if a customer is really, really mad at you?
And that does happen sometimes as a vendor, you know, we have seen that
happen. How do you deal with that situation or how do you defuse it?

Frank Heenan: So, let’s talk about that for a minute, right? So take
support. No one calls into support happy. I don’t know how you are in your
personal life, but if I’m having a challenge and I’m calling a support line,
I’m typically not in a good place. So, are we perfect? Absolutely not. Do we
have challenges within our install base? We do.

It comes down to listening to what the client is saying. When I say
listening, I don't mean like jotting little notes down. I mean actively
listening to what they're telling you, getting at root cause, and then being
very direct as to whether or not the root cause we can correct or the root
cause we can't. And if you actively listen to what a client tells you, you
determine root cause, you address root cause, you'll take somebody that
comes into a situation like this and To where they relax themselves and then
they then start wanting to collaborate and work together.

And the last thing I would say to it is, I don't know how you are, I don't
like my time being wasted. Can't solve something, tell me. And then give me
alternatives to solve it. You know, a colleague of mine once told me, you
know, People come to me with problems all the time. I love to hear sometimes
if you came to me with a problem, what's your idea on a solution.

Then I can effectively. Work and manage that. So yeah, you're always- look,
you don't have install bases as large as we do with not having challenges.
That's a fact. Anybody that tells you their ERPs can solve everything you
need. They're lying. They can't. We can't. It's making sure we're listening,
actively listening and then solving for whatever that root cause problem is.

Karthik Chidambaram: You’ve had a long career at Epicor, you’ve been with
them for a long time, right? Except for, like, a few years.

Frank Heenan: Yep.

Karthik Chidambaram: So what’s something special about Epicor? I mean, I see
a lot of people at Epicor, they’ve been there a long time, what’s special
about Epcior?

Frank Heenan: You're the first person to ever ask me that. I'll tell you why
I love it. I came from a blue collar family. And this was an industry that
reminded me of it. People here work real hard, and we work real smart. And
it's very, very rewarding. Everything about it's been rewarding. So for
that, that's why I'm here.

I thought at one point the grass was greener. The grass is brown everywhere.
And as much as we think we may, you know- are there days where I wake up
going, yeah, but those days are few and far between. So for me, I just, I
love distribution. It reminded me of when I was a kid. And I stuck to it
like gum on the back of your shoe. You know?

That's my- that's why, it's why I love it here. And there's a lot of my
colleagues that can say the same thing. There's a number of us that this is
our first job out of school. So there's something to be said about that,
right? Meaning not complacent. If I was complacent, I'm not. I'm constantly

I love the people I work with. Love them. And the customers are great.

Karthik Chidambaram: Frank you’ve had a very impressive career, right, so
you just started out of college, doing, got hired by P21 and today you’re
the Group VP at Epcior. You know, it’s a very impressive career. Not
everybody gets that, right? So for instance, there are some challenges,
obstacles and all that.

What do you think has made you successful? You know, what advice would you
give others out there who are looking to kind of climb up the career chain?

Frank Heenan: Yeah. So first thing is you would never hear me say, when I
was an individual contributor as a solution engineer, I would never say
that's not my job. Never. If there's a problem in front of me. I'm gonna go
solve it. Come hell or high water.

Second is, work hard. I work. But the third is work smart. And then I would
tell you other things for me. This is just me. Be highly communicative,
expect the best, and execute. But you need to be highly communicative, you
need to. When I started- I'll give you a funny story.

So I started in ‘98. I was a 23 year old kid out of school. And my first job
was to call the three customers that bought Prophet 21, the product, and ask
them what they think. And I remember coming home to my wife, I was married
at a young age, I remember coming home to my wife saying I think I made the
biggest mistake of my life. Because I got screamed at for hours. And 25
years later I don't think I made a mistake.

My point to that story is that I always wanted more and I was given an
opportunity to take over products at a very young age and I remember sitting
in a conference room and a guy asked me, what's your management philosophy
and I was like, I don't know, we'll find out.

But my point to it was like, or is, is if you enjoy what you do, you enjoy
the customer base, you enjoy your co-workers, you, you know, you're having
fun, but you're also performing and delivering, you'll have a very
successful career here. And you have to be at an employer that's willing to
give you opportunity. And here's another thing- that's willing to take a

I don't know many software companies in the world that would come up to a 25
year old kid and say you have a P&L for all the product lines we have.
At 25. So.

Karthik Chidambaram: Yeah, work hard, don't be complacent, expand

Frank Heenan: Always learn.

Karthik Chidambaram: Always learn.

Frank Heenan: I learn all the time, I learn every day. I learned in this
conversation with you certain things. Be very observant. I'm extremely
observant. You may not think I'm listening to you, I'm listening to you. And
learn. You can, every person in the world can teach somebody something. And
sometimes it's very simple. Sometimes it's very grandiose.

Oh, and the last thing. I'm highly analytical. I don't run the businesses
based off of what you tell me. I run the businesses by triangulating and
consuming data.

Karthik Chidambaram: So data is the new oil. And you know, everybody makes
mistakes. Can you talk about one grave mistake you did and something you
learned from it?

Frank Heenan: Oh, I make mistakes every day.

Yeah, I would say-. A few mistakes, well, a couple of mistakes I've made.
One mistake I made was leaving this organization. That was a mistake. What I
learned from it? Grass is brown everywhere. And what I also learned for it
is, for all the warts I thought our organization had at the time, what I saw
out in the world was a lot worse. So I learned from that and I came back.

Second thing I learned is I learned how to work in true enterprise class
companies, meaning I was working in a sector where the average contract
value was north of 5 million a year on average. These are big deals in big
companies. And there's a term in our industry saying ‘I learned how to hunt

So when I came back, I taught the business how to hunt whales. And since
that time, over the last seven years, we've been able to execute to that
where our ability to go up market and win has been close to 95%. And that's
a pretty good run rate.

Karthik Chidambaram: Frank, on this podcast, we interview a lot of leaders
and one question we ask them, one of the ending questions we ask them is,
what question would you like to ask the next guest we interview?

So the previous guest we interviewed was Derek Murdock, the CEO of IPS
Packaging, and they're also an Epicor customer. The question they want to
ask, and I think you're the right person to answer this question, there's a
generational shift happening in the workforce. And a lot of people leave
jobs, two years, three years, they just want to go for the next big thing.

How can you keep the workforce motivated? How can you retain them? That's a
question Derek had for the next guest.

Frank Heenan: Yeah, that's a great question. I struggle with that.

I think you need, as the workforce turns over and the kids are coming out of
school, what motivates them is much different than what motivated you and I
many, many, many years ago. So I think the first key question of any of
those employees is determining what motivates them. And dependent upon what
motivates them, you stick them in career paths to appease that motivation.
If you do not, that's when you start seeing a lot of jaw popping.

Second thing, it's challenging them, but not challenging them from a, like,
aggressive standpoint. Challenging them to where they don't get complacent.
Like, take these phones, right? Take the way we consume data now. Take the
way these kids consume data. Your kids, my kids, it's gotta be quick. They
need constant, you know, great job, great job, great job.

You know, they consume stuff faster than we ever did. They, you know,
they're watching five second videos and then you sit them down into a five
hour conference call. They're gone. So it's challenging them and motivating
them and providing them data at a speed in which they're used to consume.

It's a difficult task, but I think if we want to maintain a workforce and
having people wanting to build careers at places, that's, in my opinion,
ways in which you can accomplish it.

Karthik Chidambaram: Yeah. Challenge them with new opportunities, right? As
a manager. You can do it. It doesn't matter. Like you said, you know, even
if you're a 25 year old, they gave you a P&L to run. That motivated you
to stay on.

Frank Heenan: Yeah, I mean it scared me, too, but I- Did I ever expect that
this would be basically my only job? Nope. I did not. But, I will tell you
this, when I do see resumes, when they do come across my desk, and I do see
two here, one there, three here, two there, one there. I don't- those are
ones that I'm challenged when I start talking to them because, you know, to
me, generationally, you want to go work for a company, you want to go work
for that company.

As long as that company was, you know, motivating you to do what you need,
pretty much stay there. As long as you have an ability to move up, out, if
you're happy in what you're doing, you're happy in what you're doing. I
always wanted to work for a place that would push me.

Karthik Chidambaram: I was interviewing Anne Vranicic, the President of
Valin corporation?

Frank Heenan: Yeah.

Karthik Chidambaram: And she said the same thing. Hey, I mean, two years
here, two years there- it doesn’t work, you know, things don’t happen that
fast and it’s hard to accomplish a lot in that short span.

Frank Heenan: And I think about this too. I work for a software company,
right? I am not the norm, you know, others are not the norm. I said that, I
say that speaks loudly for the software company I work for. So.

Karthik Chidambaram: So it's your turn right now, Frank, to ask a question.
What question would you like to ask the next guest we interview?

Frank Heenan: Hmm. What's the one thing you would want to get out of your
technology partner? Doesn't matter what it is. And I don't even know who the
next person that's going to ask is. So if it's one of my colleagues- What's
the one challenge you feel is really disruptive for a distributor? If it's a
non-technology person, what's the one thing your technology provider could
give you that could potentially be a disrupter in a positive way?

Karthik Chidambaram: I would like to end with this question, Frank, how do
you keep yourself updated? What are you reading right now, or how do you
stay ahead of the game?

Frank Heenan: Yeah, so I will admit I am not an avid reader. But I'm an
avid- I do a lot of reading on the internet. A lot of rags, mags, tech
talks. I consume that stuff. I do a lot of- I like to get out in front of
distributors a lot. See how they're doing, what they're doing. Observe. May
not say much. You'll never see me with a notebook.

Actually, I think that's quite important. When I come into a meeting, I am
actively listening and I am observing. I'm not writing anything down. I'm
writing it down, but I'm writing it down in my mind. And then afterwards,
when I come back, that's when you start doing things.

So, for me, it's consuming information, triangulating information. So what
you say is the same thing he says, the same thing I say, and then go from
there. So I don't do a lot of reading, like books and stuff.

Here's the other thing, what I really like to do. I am a sports junkie. So,
I am a sports junkie. I kid. There's three things that are important in my
life, and the rest is noise. My family, my job, and sports.

Outside of that, I don't really pay much attention.

Karthik Chidambaram: That's amazing. So, Frank, you know, it's been a great
conversation. Thank you so much for joining Driven by DCKAP. Great to see
you in Nashville. I'm glad we got some time to talk to each other. And thank
you so much for joining Driven by DCKAP.

Frank Heenan: As am I. It was a lot of fun. Thank you.

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Episode 59