Originally founded as a sealing and gasket distributor 40 years ago, Cupps Industrial Supply now offers two- to four-dimensional solutions, using elastomers, plastics, and metals. Cupps works with aerospace and defense, mining, electronics, power generation, wastewater and pharmaceutical industries. The company places a strong emphasis on providing excellent customer service and turning its customers' needs into reality.


Strategic Planning for the Future


When CEO Doug Timberlin started looking to what’s next for his business, he recognized the company needed to find a partner that could help him develop a strategic plan and organize the company’s systems and team to continue to grow. In 2019 he reached out to the Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Arizona MEP) for assistance. Since then, Arizona MEP has helped Cupps develop and implement a plan to achieve the company’s long-term goals, including formalizing procedures and processes to prepare for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, evaluating employees and current roles and reorganizing the marketing and sales team.


“My approach is first we have to become best, and that’s an inside job and then we can become first in the industry,” said Timberlin. "We have more new employees than ever before and we needed to improve our documentation of process and procedures, before we can become the best. Becoming best means ensuring we’re hitting our on-time delivery benchmarks and it means focusing on the work we do to lower our reject rates and being transparent when problems occur.”


ERP Selection and Implementation on Right Track


To assist internal organization efforts, Arizona MEP helped Cupps create the job description and hire a new materials manager. This role’s primary responsibility was to document workflow processes to prepare for ERP implementation. Arizona MEP also enlisted its ERP expert to help select and implement a system that aligned with Cupps business model and is easy to use for employees. To select the right system, the ERP expert sent Timberlin and the leadership team a series of questionnaires to best determine which ERP would fulfill their requirements. Based on the results, the ERP expert highlighted two options that would be the best fit for the company and performed an evaluation and testing period for the team before the final selection was made. Timberlin was grateful for the assistance and that the new materials manager already had experience with the ERP system selected. “I learned that upfront training is key to making the implementation go smoothly,” said Timberlin. “The new materials manager helped us with software training before rolling it out company-wide. And, engaging with AZ MEP’s expert was money well spent under our conditions.”


Organizational Development Sets the Stage for the Future


As Cupps looked to the future, it needed to ensure that every team member was in the correct role that maximized their strengths. Arizona MEP facilitated DISC assessments, a behavioral self-assessment that measures interpersonal behavior, helping Timberlin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the employees. After a successful evaluation period, Timberlin is more confident in each team member’s role and is now looking to expand and restructure the sales team to grow the business.


With Arizona MEP’s help, Cupps Industrial Supply has started executing its strategic plan. The ERP system implementation is almost complete, operating procedures have been documented to get new employees up to speed and the company has a better organizational foundation with the right people aligned to achieve its future growth goals. “When we wanted to grow, we knew we needed expertise that we didn’t have internally,” said Timberlin. “Selecting Arizona MEP was an easy choice because the organization is vetted and backed by the state and has assisted manufacturers with challenges similar to ours. Arizona MEP is a resource for business expertise from A to Z.”