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Ashburton Contracting Case Study

Quick and Responsive Service Helps Support Growth at Ashburton Contracting

Among the first actions Grant Bonniface took in 2008 when he stepped into the role of Chief Financial Officer at Ashburton Contracting was implementing Nimbus Software. When he evaluated potential software prospects, he says, “The thing for us that sold me was that the Nimbus business strategy was that they did all the background setup.”

Ashburton Contracting operates a number of civil contracting businesses including
roading, subdivisions, and drainage, as well as supportive operations such as transporting and road surfacing in Ashburton, Orari, Oamuru and the south of Christchurch. It also runs workshops which support the business internally and externally. Bonniface says that the company acquired two new workshops last year to expand the support arm of the business. As well, Ashburton has a ready-mix concrete plant and a utilities operation which manages free waters. Based in Ashburton on the South Island, the company employs about 130 people.

Ashburton received excellent service from the very start. Nimbus, Bonniface says, “worked with our people closely to provide an integrated solution and on day one give or take, we were good to go.”

In total, the time to complete integration was less than three months. Nimbus quickly customized their applications for Ashburton’s business processes. “That was one of the key benefits of Nimbus as that’s part of their ability to look at your existing business and integrate those business processes into Nimbus.”

During the past dozen years, Nimbus has proven over and over that its software is adaptable to Ashburton’s changing requirements.

“Nimbus Software is really robust. I’ve never really thought I need to look elsewhere. We’re very happy with the software, its technology, its ability to grow with you and its security in terms of users but more importantly in terms of up time and performance. Its integrity. And it comes down to the people that you work with as well.”

Rapid Parts Database Integration

When Ashburton acquired a parts and service business for its workshop franchise with Isuzu late in 2019, Ashburton needed to integrate and begin working with a continually updating database within a month. “We download a parts list from Isuzu every month with 930,000 parts in it. Nimbus allows us to download the database, and update for changes and selling price changes and standard cost and all that sort of stuff, as well as new products.”

Nimbus worked collaboratively with Ashburton to customize the user interface, create a database history, load the parts catalogue and pricing information so that they could operate as quickly as possible. The work to address all of the integration is ongoing, with Bonniface saying he continues to collaborate with Nimbus and Isuzu so that the information base and processing base are as accurate as possible.

Speedy Response to Shifting Regulations

After the devastating earthquake hit Christchurch in 2011, the New Zealand government instituted new regulations for civil contractors. Ashburton went to their Nimbus Software programmer to request changes for processes around invoicing and capturing costs.

“We said to Nimbus, ‘We need this by this date – it was a very short time, just a few days, and they organized it and set it all up for us.”

The Future

Bonniface says that his goal is to utilize as many of the capabilities of Nimbus as possible.
“My view is that we must use Nimbus for everything that we can, that we ensure we’re effectively using the database.”

Previously, plant monitoring as part of Ashburton’s utility tree water contract was all being done on bits of paper and spreadsheets. “We went to Nimbus and said we need somehow to capture and report on it. Nimbus came up with a solution using a product we could use to capture that information, which gets sent back to us and provides access to the local council as well.”

Nimbus Mobile Reports on KPIs from the Field

To combat the difficulties of poor cellphone reception among the mountains and valleys of the South Island, Bonniface explains, “We’ve moved on to Nimbus Mobile to help us with our new utilities contract and we’re quite excited about the prospect.” Ashburton is using the application to capture jobs in the field and report on them. By using mobile to report, they’re able to respond within a certain amount of time to a job as part of their KPIs.

Looking ahead, there are also plans to integrate detailed information analysis based on the reporting capabilities of Nimbus. “There’s quite a lot of reports we have had Nimbus create and you know we came out with a way of handling some job reporting or job coding of invoices onto jobs using the system and it’s been really great.”

Bonniface explains that as Ashburton added to its businesses, “We made a lot of changes and modifications in things that suit us — reporting, how we process transactions, and Nimbus has been very quick to look at them, analyze, and produce a result.”

As Ashburton Contracting continues to grow, Bonniface is confident that Nimbus will be supporting that growth. “Back in 2008 we were probably doing $12 to $15 million turnover and our biggest year is $39 million. Nimbus has scaled with us.”