Unitherm Heating Systems, one of Ireland’s largest distributors of heating products, chooses Acumatica to power UK expansion.

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14th Jun 2021

Unitherm Heating Systems is one of Ireland’s leading suppliers in engineered heating system solutions for residential and commercial applications. Offering specialist design, supply, and certification since 2004, Unitherm does ‘everything heating’ apart from fitting. With significant growth on the horizon, the business turned to Pinnacle and Acumatica Cloud ERP to help their new operation in the UK run smoothly.

Like many businesses, Unitherm took the twin challenges of Brexit and the global pandemic to reassess their operations. Unlike most businesses, though, Unitherm decided this was the time to expand. Director Chris McClelland says, “we already had our business plan in place for expansion into the UK which incorporated the various potential outcomes of Brexit. The pandemic meant we spent some time pivoting, to become a better version of ourselves. We felt that the pandemic and Brexit has created an opportunity for green energy solutions to lift the spirits of the nation, to provide employment, and to help with the fight against climate change. It’s the right time for us to replicate our Irish business in the UK.”

As a design and distribution firm, ERP is a core part of the operation – indeed ERP is an essential enabler to be included in the business plan. McClelland went on to say “starting a new business in the UK gave us an opportunity to revaluate our current ERP system and we decided we would need a modern, dynamic and interactive system to suit our needs. The new ERP system had to be economical enough to support the UK operation as a start-up in its own right, which would have to stand on its own two feet with its own P&L. But the ERP would also have to be flexible enough to grow with McClelland’s major ambitions for UK growth.

Having assessed many major providers in the ERP market, McClelland says that Acumatica was the obvious choice as it could fulfil all our requirements. “Some systems practically require an honors degree to use properly”, he says. “From order to dispatch to invoice, my Mum could use Acumatica, because it’s designed to be clever without being complicated. Thanks to a beautiful user interface, users can get to grips with lots of functionality with minimal training; and as a start-up in the UK, employing new people, that’s really important. Similarly, building a business from the ground up, we did not want to have to invest in new servers and systems, so having ERP in the cloud was a natural decision.”

“But there was another criterion. Most ERPs force your people to change their processes. With Acumatica, we didn’t have to change anything – instead, the software helps us by automating previously manual jobs. For example, all our sales representatives get prompts; intelligent little nudges to progress orders. Serial numbers are stored from the start, so full product histories are available for every support call. It’s all so streamlined.”

And whilst Unitherm already has a technology partner in Ireland, they wanted a strong and resilient partner that could service the needs of an expanding operation. “Pinnacle had a good approach; professional and responsive, and never overselling”, says McClelland. “Pinnacle has the size and infrastructure to help us as we grow. They were not the cheapest, nor the most expensive, but they were certainly the best. Their team took a structured approach from day one; with a delivery plan built around our business needs. In implementation terms, they shone.”

Today, Unitherm has just launched in the UK with its first hub, in Exeter. Several more hubs will follow nationwide in the next five years, offering training, design services, distribution, as well as a wealth of knowledge in the latest renewable energy heating systems. Pinnacle Business Development Director Richard Sadler says, “Unitherm has a proven business model, and Acumatica, The Cloud ERP, is helping to bring that model to the UK. Today, every business is a technology business, and with Acumatica, Unitherm has an excellent platform for scalable growth.”