IPS is a 3rd generation company that was started by our grandparents in 1968. They ran the business for 20 years. Our parents also worked in the business. I myself, started right at the time our grandparent’s retirement and our parents taking over for the next 20 years. During that time, my brother and sister began working in the business. Our parents retired in 2008 and we have been running it ever since. We were aggressive and grew rapidly even with the rough times. Our sales went from 7 million in 2008 to over 12 million in 2014. However, our business model was based on the same model as the prior 40 years. Our key indicator was monitoring where we were at for overall profit and sales from the previous year. We were certainly growing, and our bottom line was rising, but cash flow was becoming worse and worse.
IPS is a very diverse company made up of IPS Equipment Inc., which is strictly a wholesale distributor of propane equipment, and Industrial Propane Service, Inc. which performs construction and service in the propane industry. We are very unique with limited competition. We did not have a true indication of what our strengths and weaknesses were. We had an idea, but we did not have the information to support it. Actually, almost all decisions made were based on a “gut feeling”.
Cogent came into our business and dug deep into all aspects. Their initial “fact finding” period of the process was surprising and enlightening. We always knew we were leaving a lot of money on the table, but never knew how much, why, or how to fix it. That 2-day process identified exactly where our weaknesses were and a plan was produced on how to begin to change our way of thinking. It included how to build a more successful, more profitable business plan. Many thanks to Arlon for his hard work and excellent presentations.
The next steps involved Jim Single with Cogent working at our facility for multiple weeks reviewing processes, past sales histories, and meetings with us discussing the direction we needed to take. This included refined processes, inventory control and tracking, setting budgets based on goals rather than where we were a year ago, creating key indicator reports and so much more. It is incredible that for the relatively short time he was here, how much he learned about our company and our industry. He shared many examples of other companies in the same shape we were, and how they benefitted from Cogent’s services.
We now have an accurate, realistic budget to work from. We have weekly key indicator reports that are current and easy to understand. They flag any areas that are of concern. We have employee incentive programs, more accurate job descriptions, and a plan on how to get the most out of all of our team. There is so much more that Jim and Cogent has provided us to become an even more successful and profitable business. We are extremely excited to begin seeing real results immediately. Our peace of mind will be so much stronger knowing true status of our business in real time.
We will definitely be using Cogent’s services in the future and we highly recommend that companies like ourselves consider Cogent to help them become a stronger company in today’s business climate.