David Ranger, president and chief executive officer of TradeTec Computer Systems in Parksville, B.C., works with his wife, Sandy.
By Wayne Miller
Parksville, B.C.—Although David Ranger is not a third or fourth generation lumberman, his experience in the forest products industry was deeply rooted in his adolescence. Growing up on Vancouver Island, he was surrounded by the forest industry, but was more interested in things that were more high-tech and communications oriented.
As an adult, he was able to combine the two, starting TradeTec Computer Systems Ltd., a company based in Parksville, B.C., which supplies the forest products industry with much needed electronic inventory control, sales management, process optimization, production reporting and data collection and analysis.
Over the past 20 years, TradeTec has grown with technology while at the same time embraced the traditional forest industry ways to build its TallyWorks suite of products. The TradeTec of today has continued to advance their original products by building a team with the mission, vision and values stemmed from this focus.
“The return on an investment in this kind of technology is usually less than a year, and
Glenn Haywood, account manager of the “Logs Team,” helps customers with their timber procurement needs.
for many of our customers it is around eight months,” said Ranger, president of TradeTec.
The idea started while Ranger was working for Motorola; he was able to learn about the communications and technology needs of the forest products industry. In 1981, he began developing software for the forest industry.
“As a radio technician in this area, you are working in the forest products industry,” said Ranger. “You are fixing hand-held radios or radios that are used in logging trucks. You learn a lot about what the needs of the industry are. We focused on log and lumber information systems.”
In 1986, Ranger broke away from Motorola, and began developing TradeTec company full-time. Because of the uniqueness of the forest products industry, the custom tailoring of TradeTec’s software is ideal, Ranger said.
Scott Cramb, account manager of the “Lumber Team,” works with customers to provide solutions for lumber inventory control.
“Every mill has its slight differences because they have different markets, and that is what makes us unique—we actually tailor our software for each individual lumber operation,” he explained. “It’s not just one size fits all.”
TradeTec offers a variety of software and hardware systems, as well as accessories, for the forest products industry. Software programs the company offers include TallyWorks Logs, which offers management control and reporting, as well as Ranger Handheld data collection terminals; web-enabled access; real time, multi-user, multi-site architecture; integration with corporate database and accounting systems; integration with weigh scale and sample scale systems; and scaling bureau data import capabilities.
TallyWorks Lumber provides users with standard or metric measurements; package based, inventory details, multiple thicknesses, widths, grades, lengths and prices per package; expandable to individual piece level; intelligent security features; more than 80 ready-to-use reports; multiple order building methods; and order, shipping and inventory allocations and tracking. Some of the benefits of having a system like this are sustainable productivity gains and improved management control and
Service technician Kelly Wilson provides customers with hardware maintenance and repairs, as well as technical support.
TallyWorks enables efficient and coordinated multi-step remanufacturing and simple, back-to-back orders; package based inventory details, multiple thicknesses, widths, grades and lengths per package; flexible order building filing, either automated or user-controlled; drill down from complete mill inventory to customization options; more than 80 ready-to-use reports; intelligent Query interface; task-based interface; and universally accessible data.
TradeTec also offers a line of hardware that includes the Ranger data terminal that is compatible for both the TallyWorks Log and TallyWorks Lumber systems; a line of thermal transfer printers; and a hand-held scanner for data entry.
Ranger said these products are helpful for companies who are experiencing problems with not only inventory control, but communication between departments.
“The problem is that there is a communication breakdown along the line,” he stated. “The mill people aren’t communicating with those in the sales office—the different departments don’t know what each other
Kevin Diewald, TradeTec’s implementation and customer service manager, checks up on a TallyWorks station at a mill site.
is doing. Our software brings it all together. It is as much a communications tool as it is an inventory control tool.”
Ranger explained that what his company is doing is customizing the products to meet customer’s needs. Although every mill is essentially the same, they have specialties that make them unique.
“Every mill has had success in one area or another, whether it be selling flooring or studs—whatever it is from Softwoods or hardwoods,” he stated. “We spend a lot of time with the customer trying to understand their needs. There are all kinds of variations in sawmills out there, and our software can fit the need for every one of them. And, where we don’t fit a need, we custom tailor the system so that it does.”
With a diverse list of several hundred customers, Ranger said the company services the single mill or firms with multiple mills, but the majority of TradeTec’s clients are the single mills. He expounded that the return on the investment for the company is often the most important part in making the decision to have the TradeTec systems installed.
“A company who is smaller and might only service a few customers obviously would not have the same return as a company that has a large inventory and numerou
Kurt Stefanek, an implementation specialist, shows a customer how to tally with technology.
s customers,” Ranger stated.
TradeTec also can adapt their systems for either Softwood or hardwood customers. While the core of the technology is the same, Ranger said there are slight variations that make a difference in the software they are supplied with.
“A Softwood business focuses more on the width and length, and so they want their numbers in board feet,” he explained. “Whereas in hardwoods, they are not always selling or buying by dimension. They might be supplying a furniture manufacturer and need the information in square or lineal feet. They can use all measures on our system.”
Most companies are working to maximize efficiency in their operations, and Ranger said that a lack of efficient software could create a bottleneck for a company that his products can remove.
TradeTec’s growth over the years demanded a need to move to a larger building in 2002, located in Parksville.
“It is a constant in the forest products industry that increasing productivity is the main goal,” he stated. “There is always a bottleneck, and software can often correct a problem for a customer.”
Continuing service is another benefit to using TradeTec’s software and hardware, according to Ranger.
“Once we have provided the software, we continue to provide our customers with services that they need to fully maximize the benefits of the software,” he said. “We are helping them fix a problem in one form or another. This is an ongoing process. You are not just going to plug it in and it does its thing. You are buying our company’s support service as well.”
TradeTec employs 26 dedicated individuals from development to implementation to continue the service that Ranger has based his company on.
“Taking responsibility if a product doesn’t fit and ensuring that technical issues are resolved is a core part of our mission, vision and values,” Ranger said.
“This is unique to our business. Most software companies wouldn’t repair the hardware side, they would just support the
TradeTec depends on the Allegro Handheld to provide customers with instant, wireless data.
software,” Ranger said. “We have people on staff who actually repair hardware and support the software. We look after the needs of our customers so they don’t have to go out to two different vendors to get support and service they require. We offer it all right here.”