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For more information about Microsoft Office, go to: www.office.com

Customer: Southern Valve & Fitting USA

Website: www.soval.com

Customer Size: 25 employees

Country or Region: United States

Industry: Manufacturing—Construction

Customer Profile

Southern Valve & Fitting USA provides plumbing, irrigation, and utility valves and fittings. Based in Miami, Florida, Southern Valve and a sister company jointly employ 25 people in the United States and China.

Software and Services

Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Exchange Online

Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft SharePoint Online

Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010

Microsoft Office 365

Customer Solution Case Study

Manufacturer Simplifies Processes, Saves $20,000, Trims Vendors with Move to Cloud

“With Office 365, the good team that we’ve built will be able to do more. Having all our work on one cloud-based platform will be fantastic. All of us can work and be productive from anywhere.”

Robert Richard, Owner and President, Southern Valve & Fitting USA

Southern Valve & Fitting USA wanted simpler, more integrated technology and fewer vendors. It is subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 to gain multiple communications programs in one online service. By moving to this cloud offering, Southern Valve aims to streamline business processes from weeks to days; redirect up to three people from administrative work to sales; and save U.S.$20,000 or more in servers, software, and support.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.

Document published June 2011

Business Needs

Since 1971, Southern Valve & Fitting USA (SVF) has been providing wholesalers with plumbing, irrigation, and utility valves and fittings. Robert Richard bought the company in 1991 and in 1993 founded Asia Factory Direct, a company that sources products in China for distribution through SVF. Richard manages about 25 employees between the two companies, six in Miami, Florida, and the rest in Hong Kong and China.

What appealed to Richard about owning SVF was the opportunity to build an efficient, innovative, and automated supply chain. “When I took over the company, everything was done manually,” says Richard, Owner and President of Southern Valve & Fitting. “The most sophisticated piece of technology was a fax machine. There was a lot of manual work in the way the business was run.”

In 1991, Richard installed the MYOB enterprise resource planning system, implemented an email program, and eventually upgraded to Microsoft Exchange Server for email, collaboration, tasking, and calendaring. This technology enabled SVF to work more efficiently with customers and vendors and also created a more efficient supply chain.

Richard later added EMC Documentum eRoom and Google Docs for document sharing, but encountered integration problems. Eventually, SVF installed Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 for more sophisticated collaboration. In early 2011, the company subscribed to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for customer relationship management.

While he had succeeded in automating and simplifying many business processes, Richard felt that he had ended up with a complex, inefficient IT infrastructure. “We had a disparate platform whose pieces didn’t always connect,” he says. “I wanted one platform from one vendor, if possible, and a software and hardware platform we could take care of ourselves.”


Richard learned about Microsoft Office 365 and in late in 2010 and signed up to test the beta version. Microsoft Office 365 for professionals and small businesses is a group of cloud-based email, calendaring, collaboration, and conferencing services combined with web-based versions of the popular Microsoft Office programs. The service is protected by industry-leading antivirus and antispam software.

Richard and five employees tested the service for several months in early 2011. The company switched its email from a third-party hosting provider to Microsoft Exchange Online. SVF also migrated existing documents and team sites from eRoom, Google Docs, and Office SharePoint Server to Microsoft SharePoint Online, the collaboration component of Office 365.

In the future, Southern Valve plans to give vendors and customers access to SharePoint Online so that they can share documents and create better workflows. For example, the company’s current purchasing process requires multiple steps and people and can take up to two weeks. Richard wants to put all the data online so that vendors, customers, and his staff can locate and submit needed documents electronically. SVF is running a beta version of this new process now, which seems very promising.

Employees can access documents from anywhere in the world using a standard Internet connection. With Microsoft Office Web Apps, the online companions to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, they can review and make light edits to documents directly from a browser. Richard is also working to connect SharePoint Online to the Microsoft Access 2010 database software, part of Microsoft Office Professional Plus. SVF plans to build customer-specific databases containing pricing and shipping data, for example, and give customers online access to those databases through SharePoint Online.


Southern Valve & Fitting USA has been able to make its staff more productive, provide better customer service, simplify its IT setup, and reduce costs.

Staff More Productive with Anywhere Access

By giving global employees, customers, and vendors anywhere access to data and documents, SVF can drive efficiency to new levels and help its small staff be more productive. “We’re an efficiency-driven organization, and we don’t have or want a big administrative staff,” Richard says. “With Office 365, the good team that we’ve built will be able to do more. “Having all our work on one cloud-based platform will be fantastic. All of us can work and be productive from anywhere—without worrying that servers or applications will fail or our data will be unavailable.”

Supply Chain More Efficient Than Ever

Additionally, Southern Valve believes that online data access will enable the firm to shorten its purchasing process from weeks to days and save at least one administrative person—and maybe two or three. “I can redeploy these assets to sales and building the business,” Richard says.

IT Savings of $20,000

Richard says that Office 365 is “priced right;” plus, it will also enable him to eliminate three servers (used for Office SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, eRoom, and file sharing) and the associated power and support costs. “I can eliminate the headaches of maintaining a complex puzzle of firewalls, switches, routers, servers … all the things that drive us crazy and are forever breaking down,” he says. “The savings will add up to about [U.S.]$20,000 or more. I’ll also save 5 or 10 hours a month on vendor management. Microsoft takes care of all the programs for me, so I don’t have to be an IT person or employ an IT person.”

In Office 365, Richard has found the single integrated software solution for which he longed. “Office 365 is a seamless solution from a single vendor. It’s like heaven,” Richard says.


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