Inspiration From a Challenge

Brian Mikes

The Room Place Living Room

The Challenge

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, a fire broke out in The RoomPlace’s distribution center located in Woodbridge, Il. Over 320,000 sq. feet of warehouse space was destroyed including all the inventory contained inside. Despite this tragedy, most importantly, all of the 50 employees hard at work at the time were able to evacuate the building unharmed. With confirmation that their team was safe and the fire was extinguished, The RoomPlace wasted no time getting their company back on its feet.

STORIS Had Our Back

One of the most incredible aspects of the timing of the fire was that it came just 3 weeks after The RoomPlace had converted their entire organization’s software infrastructure to STORIS. As many retailers know, the transition to a new software solution is a big change on its own. Some might think this would spell even greater disaster, but luckily STORIS and The RoomPlace had achieved a very successful go-live. Thankfully, their system was stable and employees were fully trained on the new software when the fire struck, allowing the focus to be on rebuilding operations.

Putting the Pieces Back Together

Vice President of Information Technology, Brian Mikes, describes what it was like dealing with the fire. “It was a challenging and yet inspiring experience. I was amazed at what our team and our partners were able to accomplish. Can you imagine? We converted a clearance center into a mattress DC in 8 days. We shipped mattresses at full capacity within 2 weeks of the fire. We then opened 2 new distribution centers in the Chicago area in the next 2 weeks. During the third week, we re-purposed our existing space in the Indianapolis market into a full-fledged cross-docking facility. Within 4 – 5 weeks of the fire, we had rebuilt multiple distribution centers in two markets to restore The RoomPlace to full capacity.” So how exactly did they accomplish all of this?

Identifying Inventory Assets  

STORIS developed special inventory codes and custom reports to help The RoomPlace determine inventory loss and identify insurance implications. STORIS’ programmers worked overnight to accommodate The RoomPlace’s unique needs quickly. All inventory that was damaged in the fire needed to be properly marked so that it would not be sold in the days post-fire or allocated to existing orders. Any items that were already committed needed to be repurchased or reallocated by the purchasing department. STORIS’ programs and reporting made sure nothing fell through the cracks and that all inventory that needed to replaced was accounted for. In addition, the damaged merchandise was pulled to special accounting reports so The RoomPlace could determine insurance valuations.

Rebuilding Logistics

The RoomPlace was planning to roll out STORIS’ Advanced Warehouse Management System as a phase 2 of their initial implementation. That all changed due to the fire. STORIS sent a dedicated team member that is an expert in warehouse management and barcoding to get their 3 new distribution centers off the ground in less than 1 week. They worked hard to build operational plans for how process flows would change when going from 1 DC to 3 Warehouses. This involved training their staff on how to use STORIS effectively and efficiently to manage logistical changes. With 3 warehouses, inventory is allocated differently, including how you sell that inventory and manage customer delivery expectations. The two teams worked hard to get the new warehouse functions running at full capacity quickly to meet the needs of The RoomPlace’s customers.

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Being There for a Partner in Need

“I cannot say enough about the STORIS team. We would not have been able to pull this off without their incredible support and responsiveness. We first contacted them about the fire around midnight on the night of the fire. At 8:30 AM the next day, they had their executive team and a half-dozen key resources on a conference call to debrief and determine action items. Within hours, we had the lost inventory isolated and a plan to bring in dozens of containers of new inventory. The next day, and every day for the next week, that same group, the “A team” we called them, was on the phone again to take on new action items and challenges. Everything we threw at them they took on and delivered flawlessly. It was just incredible to experience what can happen when you put smart people in a room and put a challenge on them. I have to say, the culture to serve the customer from the STORIS organization really came through during these difficult times.” -Brian Mikes

About The Room Place

Serving Chicagoland and greater Indianapolis since 1912, Sam Berman first founded Harlem Furniture by selling furniture door-to-door. Harlem was changed to “The RoomPlace” to reflect their company’s strength in room packaging. The RoomPlace continues to succeed in Chicago’s highly competitive furniture market by offering the value-conscious consumer excellent service and selection at affordable prices. Now headquartered in Lombard, IL, The RoomPlace operates 24 furniture showrooms.

With over 650 employees company-wide, The RoomPlace is looking to the future with an aggressive marketing and development plan designed to support the continued growth of The RoomPlace Furniture Stores throughout the Midwest. The RoomPlace is committed to creating a shopping experience unlike any other furniture retailer for their valued customers while continuing to offer the service, selection, and value that has made The RoomPlace a success since 1912.

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