Huws Gray asks, ‘Where will Border Merchant take us to next with its adaptable CounterAct Software?’

Huws Gray is one of the largest independent Builders Merchant in the UK. Since its formation in 1990, it has grown rapidly and now trades from 44 different locations ranging from Hay-on-Wye down in Herefordshire up to Bolton in the north-west and across to Derby in the Midlands. Huws Gray aims to be a customer’s one-stop shop; covering all the bases from below-ground drainage products to bricks and blocks, doors, windows and roofing materials. With Huws Gray’s product diversity being 60% heavyside, 20% timber and 20% lightside, it needs a robust and flexible software system that works well no matter what it’s selling, whether it’s a roof slate or a length of timber, this is where Border Merchants come in.


The Background

Border Merchant Systems’ CounterAct software has provided Huws Gray with a fully integrated software solution since 1999. CounterAct is a complete software solution for managing all aspects of a merchanting business and is specifically designed to maximise efficiency and improve business management. This includes sales analysis, price book management, stock control, quotations and deliveries through to full accounts and management.


According to Terry Owen, MD at Huws Gray, “It is Border’s simple and logical approach to business, combined with friendly and approachable staff and excellent response times that have given us total confidence in CounterAct for the last 15 years.”


Terry explains why the values of honesty and transparency, combined with a culture of enthusiasm are so crucial. “In a market that is consolidating all the time, it is increasingly important to build long term partnerships with suppliers. Border understands our business as well as our future goals and aspirations. This partnership approach has proved vital to us. As a company grows, so should its use of technology.”


The Challenges and Solutions

Terry explains some of the challenges facing Huws Gray:


Converting new branches to CounterAct - Huws Gray’s rapid growth has seen a number of strategic acquisitions leading to new branch software installations averaging 3-4 per year recently.

“Until CounterAct is up and running we are not really in control of the acquired business”, explains Terry. With so many new installations, Huws Gray needs a software solution that is easy to pick up and understand by everyone in the team, especially if they have been used to an alternative package. Border is able to initiate a full change of system with a months’ notice, often closing an old system at 5.00pm one day and going live with CounterAct by 8.00 am the next.


"We can always be sure that Border will deal with each installation quickly, without complications and with complete discretion, giving us total peace of mind”, he added.


Reliability – Terry describes CounterAct as a “Very speedy and robust system”. With continued growth has come the need to upgrade servers as capacity has been reached. Each time, information has been transferred seamlessly, with no problems or issues arising. “In fact, we have only had 1 downtime issue in 10 years which was solved quickly and without incident”, stated Terry.

Integration – Border Merchant is also willing to work with other software providers e.g. AdraMatch. This approach has been vital as Huws Grays has evolved and changed its business requirements.


Continual Developments


“Border’s investment in new developments is continual”, stated Terry.


Huws Gray has full access to the Border development team and this inspires a culture that supports a mutually beneficial relationship. Terry explains “At any one time we may have up to 100 development requests logged with Border, ranging from minor changes to new functionality. It is a two-way relationship that benefits us both as we have helped to drive new changes to CounterAct making the software even more attractive to other merchants.”


Developments recently added include


  • Improved ‘Dashboard’ technology – Dashboard is a new, customer friendly screen, based on an Outlook style. This makes the software even more intuitive and user friendly.
  • Supplier rebates and customer owed tracking – CounterAct allows you to track how much is owed and when. Huws Gray previously had outstanding rebates from suppliers dating back 18 months. Now, the rebate becomes a debt on the system after 30 days, and is paid on average within 3 months.
  • Customer Banding – Eight categories of customer classification allows easy analysis of customer and branch performance, including credit checks. Categorisation helps with targeted and personal CRM activity. For example, letters can be sent to customers in Welsh or English, tailored to each individual preference.


Key Benefits:

Improved Performance - CounterAct has proved invaluable to every aspect of business at Huws Gray


  • Fast text driven front end – gives excellent point of purchase functionality for sales staff, ensuring high levels of customer service
  • Quick and easy product searches - giving instant information
  • Window screen graphics – are ideal for the back office staff and for generating reports
  • Full stock and pricing control - instant access to customer terms and price books
  • Improved speed of communications – with branches and customers
  • Increased consistency and reduced errors – accurate real-time information
  • Asset Management – stock and assets can be automatically depreciated
  • Proof of delivery – Paperless delivery information with the latest Kodak scanners combined with Border’s Proof of Delivery Scanning Module gives anyone in the business access to the most up-to-date delivery details.


In Conclusion

Terry states, “Border Merchant is big enough to respond to our requirements whilst giving us the personal relationship we value from a key supplier”.


“The continual evolution of CounterAct Software and the ability of Border to adapt to our changing business are pivotal to our successful relationship. In my opinion, Border is able to deliver a service that far exceeds its competitors in terms of flexibility and evolution. Anything is possible, and it leaves us with the question, where will Border take us to next with its adaptable CounterAct Software?”

CounterAct: tickQuick to Learn tickEasy to Use tickFirst Class Support   |   To arrange an demonstration call 01600 715 139

Border Merchant Systems Ltd, Singleton Court Business Park, Wonastow Road, Monmouth, NP25 5JA