S3 Software Solutions created software specifically for “u-pull-it” yards, “designed by someone who worked in the industry,” according to Dimitri Gerontis, the company owner.
When Gerontis had his own yard, he started with a pen-and-paper system, and used spreadsheets to keep track of inventory. He tried a few computer-based point-of-sale systems, but said that “nothing was tailored to our industry.” While the systems could ring up sales, they didn’t work well to track inventory in a recycling environment. “There were too many questions,” he said.
Prior to working in recycling, Gerontis worked in the restaurant industry where he learned about volume, time, motion and workflow. He took those concepts and applied them to his recycling yard, making it as efficient as possible. Since there was no software that matched how his business worked, he decided to create a custom program for his own use.
He compiled data flow charts and looked at what employees would need to do and even designed what the user screens would look like, then he turned to programmers who started building software.
After using the software in his own yard, Gerontis realized it was something that could be used by others in the industry. “We turned it into a company,” he said. He sold software to his first client in 2010 and now has about 70 clients running it in the U.S. and Canada, and is having conversations with clients overseas as well.
Gerontis no longer has his own yard, but he has a perfect test site for the software – a yard owned by his cousin, who does beta testing on software updates and revisions, and who is always the first to work with new releases.
The software gets minor updates about once a month, including security updates as well as refining and adding features to the software. There has only been one major structural change since the software was launched, in the fall of 2013.
The software will run on Windows XP, but Windows 7 and newer is suggested, since Windows XP is no longer being supported or updated. In the future, Gerontis would like to add mobile and analytical features, but he doesn’t plan on branching out into creating software for other industries, since he needs to concentrate on making sure his software is the best it can be. “The industry is always changing,” he said, and those changes can affect what customers need the software to do for them.
Besides getting input about the software from his cousin, Gerontis spends a lot of his time on the road, doing a lot of consulting work in the industry, visiting as many as 90 different yards in a year. “It really helps with the development,” he said.
He takes what he hears from all of those different yards and considers what can be tweaked in future software revisions. “Walking into a yard, you’re always going to learn something,” he said.
At the same time, the customers don’t drive the software. Gerontis said that he spent a lot of time with flow charts and creating the most efficient workflow possible, so the software encourages users to adapt their flow to fit the software. They don’t have to change their workflow to use the software, but Gerontis said that many do.
“They need to think about their processes,” he said, and many people see how they can become more efficient. Because it takes more time to explain those new efficiencies, Gerontis said that sometimes it takes a little longer to make a sale, and that some people are very surprised how much a software program can change the way a business operates. “The impact is huge, when it’s in and operating,” he said.
Not only does the software track inventory and ring up sales, it also tracks where the material comes from, including VIN numbers. It tracks the flow of commodities including fluids, and handles reporting required by local and national agencies.
Gerontis expects that his company will continue to grow and he hopes to triple its size over the next five years. He said that he’s noticed that clients are more willing to share information with each other, and he is often referred by current clients to new ones.
Traveling for business is one of his favorite parts of the job, and he particularly enjoys when he can find solutions for his clients that help them grow their own businesses. “I’ve taken people out of the paper age,” he said.
Published in the May 2014 Edition of American Recycler News