ACR Supply Co.
There are many suppliers of air conditioning, refrigeration and heating replacement parts, but ACR Supply Co. sets itself apart with its company culture, President Troy Meachum says.
“The reason people do business with us is because of who we are,” Meachum declares. “People believe in us as an organization.”
Based in Durham, N.C., the company markets and wholesale-distributes the parts and supplies throughout North Carolina, as well as specialty parts throughout the Southeast. Meachum’s father, L.C. Meachum, started the company in 1977.
After working as the manager of Hasco, “He made a decision to go out on his own,” the younger Meachum recalls, noting that his father began with a modest operation. “His first desk was an old door on four cases of Prestone antifreeze boxes.”
Since then, ACR has grown to operate eight store locations and a central services location that features all of its administration and distribution centers. The company has more than 11,000 products on hand and more than 500 vendors. “It’s the American dream come true,” Troy Meachum says.
The company has a staff of 75. However, “We’re helping support 75 families, not 75 employees,” he says. “It’s a different way of thinking.”
This reflects ACR’s faith-based culture, which is the main reason for its success, Meachum asserts. “People get up every day and they want to come to work,” he states. “We put God first in our organization.
“We really believe because we try to serve Him and glorify Him in the workplace,” Meachum adds. “We believe He’s blessed us.”
ACR sells to institutional clients that include educational facilities and hospitals, such as The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center. “That’s a big portion of our business, [along with] mechanical contractors, commercial refrigeration contractors and supermarkets, [as well as] HVAC residential service companies,” Meachum says.
But unlike big-box distributors such as Carrier Corp., “We’re still focused on the service and repair sides of the commercial refrigeration and HVAC businesses,” he says. “We don’t participate in the new construction market.”
Additionally, the company is looking at different ways to reach its customers, such as with ACR’s e-storefront now under development. “We’re hoping to launch that in December or January,” Meachum says.
“The Amazon suppliers of the world are becoming a factor and our customers want different ways to do business with us,” Meachum says. “We don’t think we’re going to change the world, but we think it gives our customer a new way to do business with us.”
The progress of technology represents “one of the biggest market condition changes” in ACR’s industry, he says. “We believe in and focus on innovation to differentiate ourselves.”
However, the development of ACR’s e-storefront has not been easy, Supply Chain Manager Mark Bray notes. “It’s been a learning experience as we’ve gone through this implementation,” Bray explains. “But we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we’ll have it ready for our customers soon.”
Improving the Supply Chain
ACR has focused on keeping its supply chain innovative and efficient, a priority that drove it to automate its processes with bar coding and to implement the latest upgrade of FACTS, an ERP platform from Infor.
“The upgrade offered a robust procurement program to help us make better buying decisions and manage our inventory more effectively,” Bray says.
The company also outsourced some of its transportation efforts to a regional courier. Now, ACR can stock “each of our eight store locations every day of the week, when it used to be only twice a week,” he says.
With the addition of outside couriers and improved warehousing processes, ACR has nearly doubled the workload in its distribution center without having to add team members. “Our salespeople out in the field can look their customer in the eye and tell them that our products will arrive tomorrow,” he says. “That’s a plus for customer service.”
The company also regularly measures its supply chain metrics and tries to improve them monthly, Bray adds. “We try to make sure we’re heading forward and not backwards,” he states.
Meachum joined ACR in 1980, and he long ago realized the importance of the company’s workforce to its success. “We really do focus on our model of being servant leaders,” he says. “We work hard to build the right work environment, hire the right people and then hold each other accountable to results.”
The company also has helped its employees improve upon their skills. “We are constantly doing things like that,” Meachum declares.
“We are developing people through our Future Leader program,” he continues. “This year, I’ve spent 60 percent of my time mentoring and coaching our team members.”
This includes leadership skills workshops. “We believe in leadership at every level at ACR,” Meachum continues. “We are intentional in affirming one another and encouraging one another. We try to find people doing stuff right.”
Through this work, “People connect with us more on a personal level,” Meachum says. “We’ve experienced some wonderful growth over the years and as a result, we are able to provide a really great living for our families.”
The company also contributes to organizations such as Ronald McDonald House Charities and Operation Thank You. “We support a lot of stuff in the community,” he says, adding that he and his wife will be lending a hand overseas.
“We’re going to be building an orphanage for children in a third-world country. We are praying and believing that God is leading us to the country of Burkina Faso,” he notes. “It has one of the highest orphan rates in the continent of Africa and the need is so great.”
Growing ACR’s Influence
ACR looks forward to growing, Meachum says. “We would love to be in every major market area in North Carolina,” he says.
The company also wants to continue making positive impacts into people’s lives. “The future of our company is to continue to grow our people personally and professionally, and to grow the company’s influence,” Meachum says.
Bray predicts ACR will add more technology innovations. “We’re [also] going to offer more opportunities to order products through different sales channels, whether it’s our e-store or mobile applications,” he says.