Leech Industries, established by the Leech family in 1948 as Leech Tool & Die Works, is a prominent full-service component manufacturing company in Meadville, PA. Leech provides a wide range of processes, having expanded facilities in the 1950s to include surface grinding, lathing, drill pressing, milling, heat treatment, and plating. The company then ventured into CNC machining, progressive die stamping, printer component assembly, and plastic molding in the 1970s and 1980s. The company’s goal has stayed the same: always providing customers with quality products and exceptional service.
Specializing in aerospace and defense work, Leech Industries struggled to keep up with the fast-paced and competitive nature of the industry. In 2022, Leech kicked off their digitalization and modernization project to not only “catch up” with the advanced manufacturing centers out there, but also to increase Leech’s level of customer support and response times. Their inability to return quotes in a timely manner was largely due to the highly manual quoting process, which relied heavily on institutional knowledge and the estimators’ intuition. This approach often resulted in inconsistent quotes, long turnaround times, and missed deadlines.
The absence of modern software hindered collaboration and the team’s ability to leverage new opportunities. Leech Industries’ General Manager, Stephen Bordeau, explained the company’s struggle to find a solution: “We were on what felt like an endless quest for a system that could integrate with NetSuite and fill all the needs we were looking for,” said Stephen. “With complex parts and a need for accurate and fast quoting, there was a real urgency to find something comprehensive we could also get up and running on quickly.”
Seeking a system that would bring consistency, accuracy, and efficiency to their quoting operations, Leech Industries turned to Paperless Parts. The platform’s ability to integrate seamlessly with Netsuite will provide a comprehensive, long-term solution for their team. “The integration team at Paperless Parts showed extensive knowledge of our industry and took the time to understand our nuanced processes,” recalls Stephen.
Leech Industries has also benefited from Paperless Parts’ ability to securely capture and store ITAR drawings. “The security of Paperless Parts was a crucial piece of the puzzle for us to comply with CMMC,” said Stephen. “For a while, we were exploring encryption-based systems, struggling to find anyone actually using them. Paperless Parts’ robust security measures eliminated any doubts or concerns we had about safeguarding our ITAR drawings. This made the decision easy for us.”
Aside from checking those two key boxes, Stephen and his team were particularly impressed by Paperless Parts’ scientific approach to quoting; instead of relying on estimators’ subjective judgment, the platform utilizes the geometry of a part to arrive at more accurate run-times. “The scientific approach of Paperless Parts is a game-changer for our team. We no longer quote based on ‘feel’ but rely on data-driven calculations that get us to a quote faster, giving us a competitive edge in the market,” Stephen continued.
A Differentiated Onboarding Experience
Leech worked closely with Paperless Parts’ team to implement the platform in a way customized to their unique requirements and workflows. The goal was to complete the onboarding in less than twelve weeks, and with both teams committed to the process, they hit that target.
During the onboarding process, Stephen emphasized how Paperless Parts’ differentiated from all of his previous experiences with software implementation teams. According to Stephen, “Paperless Parts’ approach to implementation was a breath of fresh air.”
Stephen highlighted the customer focus and flexibility of Paperless Parts: “Unlike other software integration teams that charge per hour, Paperless Parts didn’t impose limitations on our onsite sessions, which allowed us to benefit from their expertise fully. It’s a testament to their commitment to customer satisfaction.”
One particular onsite session stood out to Stephen, where Paperless Parts’ engineers spent the day building out the logic behind Leech’s custom pricing language. “I had the privilege of witnessing Alex and Aaron collaborate in a true braintrust fashion. With whiteboards, TVs, and insightful discussions, they crafted an outstanding solution. I haven’t seen such dedication and expertise anywhere else.”
With 18 team members fully onboarded and quoting out of Paperless Parts, responsibilities are easily divided among engineers, department supervisors, estimators, and others. They no longer have to rely on one person to get quotes out the door, eliminating single points of failure, ensuring uninterrupted quoting operations, and significantly improving the team’s responsiveness and agility.
The implementation of Paperless Parts has delivered significant benefits to Leech Industries:
- Improved Quoting Efficiency. With Paperless Parts, Leech achieved substantial improvements in its quoting process. The collaboration tools, scientific quoting methodology, and overall centralization have enabled their team to reduce their quoting time for simple parts from around 24 hours to 20-30 minutes. This time can be reallocated to more revenue-generating or strategic tasks.
- Enhanced Collaboration & Responsiveness. Paperless Parts enabled Leech Industries to eliminate single points of failure in their quoting process. With multiple team members now able to pick up and continue the quoting process and quote from anywhere, RFQs don’t get left behind. This ability to collaborate is crucial for complex quotes that require tight communication and collaboration between the front office and shop floor: “The portability and mobility offered by Paperless Parts are priceless. With a laptop, you have the flexibility to keep the shop flowing and embrace a hybrid work model or have someone remote estimating. All our prints come through the cloud. And now that we have a cloud-based ERP, we can truly operate remotely.”
- Longevity and Scalability. Getting more team members involved in quoting will be critical in allowing Leech to scale for long-term success. “Leech has been around for over 75 years, and we hope to be around for many more. We know we have to get newer generations involved, but how do you do that unless you spend twenty years with them?” According to Stephen, “It starts with putting a system in place to capture legacy knowledge and quote with science, not with feel.”
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Bottom line: the customer focus is a huge differentiator for you guys. Customer support is so important, but it hasn’t really migrated over to the manufacturing software world yet. Paperless Parts kept us on the ball; despite the challenges and changes we threw at them, they still met our deadline of going live in 8-12 weeks. I can’t speak more highly of the team that made it happen.