Customer case study

Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope finds Avalara AvaTax mirrors its approach to creating solutions

“I’m a department of one. AvaTax is a time-saver, and the data’s easy to get to when I need it.”

– Peter Fortenbaugh, Tax Manager, OldCastle BuildingEnvelope


Tax challenges

  • Increased complexity resulting from growth
  • Compliance risk
  • Manual, time-consuming processes

Business systems

  • Epicor ERP
  • Custom ProData AS/400 solutions

Products


Results

  • Streamlined, automated processes
  • Confident compliance with geographic precision
  • Easy integration

Fully integrated, seamless sales tax calculations

If a building is like a body, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope provides the skin. The company designs and manufactures the curtain walls, windows, storefronts, and other architectural features — called the “building envelope” — that give a building its appearance and provide both access and protection from the world outside.

Unlike its competitors, Oldcastle takes a fully integrated, seamless approach to building-envelope solutions. To support this strategy, the company has been acquiring materials manufacturers — mainly architectural metal and glass — that enhance its capabilities, processes, and services. With more than 75 operating locations throughout North America, Oldcastle’s growth brings with it increased complexity when it comes to managing sales tax.

Life before Avalara AvaTax

“Every company I’ve worked for has had some kind of tax-automation software,” says Peter Fortenbaugh, the tax manager at Oldcastle. “At my previous company, we had Vertex, and when I came to Oldcastle seventeen years ago, we were using Vertex. So, I was very familiar with Vertex.”

With tax rates stored on 40 different IBM AS/400 machines, each in a different location, pulling the data needed to file returns was an arduous process for Peter. “There was no electronic report for me to pull — it was all paper,” remembers Peter. “I had to go to forty different locations each month, pull the reports and put them in order, and compile all of that data to file every month.”

Oldcastle’s version of Vertex also fell short on geographic pinpointing. “Oklahoma City, for example, extends into three or four different counties, each with a different tax rate,” Peter explains. “If our Shawnee plant had a ship-to address of Oklahoma City, the system would automatically select the highest rate.”

It was an acquisition that would trigger a change for Oldcastle. The acquired company was migrating to a new system, Epicor ERP, which required custom code in order to connect to the current system, Vertex. “The Epicor people said that their product connected directly to Avalara. That was my introduction to Avalara,” remarked Peter.

Life since Avalara AvaTax

Oldcastle eventually switched to Avalara AvaTax for all of its sales and use tax calculations and is currently running nearly 200,000 transactions through the system every month — up from about 75,000 when Avalara AvaTax was first implemented.

“AvaTax scales well,” says Peter. “It handles whatever we throw at it. We acquired another company in 2015 and it was easy to add that company to AvaTax and get that data up and running in the system.” Avalara even wrote custom code to help Peter connect all 40 of his AS/400 machines with Avalara AvaTax. 

Because Avalara AvaTax uses advanced geospatial location instead of ZIP codes to calculate sales tax, Peter has noticed a huge improvement in the accuracy of his sales tax calculations. “The inaccurate tax rate issue has gone away, just because of that pinpointing.”

Peter also mentions the ease and robustness of reporting in Avalara AvaTax as an advantage over his old system. Pulling data into Microsoft Excel for reconciliation and running a tax summary are now matters of a few clicks. “Getting data for an audit is very easy now,” he says. “You want a particular month? No problem, I’ll give you whatever month you’re looking for.”

The biggest benefit Peter reports since switching to Avalara AvaTax is the time it has given back to him. “I’m a department of one,” he says, “and now I can focus on other things that need to get done. Avalara AvaTax is a time-saver, and the data’s easy to get to when I need it.”


Avalara Sales Tax Compliance Suite

Avalara supports quick deployment by providing over 700 pre-built integrations to business applications.

Avalara AvaTax

Delivers sales tax calculations to your shopping cart or invoicing system, and aggregates your transaction data so you can calculate what you owe in Returns.

Avalara Returns

A filing service so seamless you’ll barely lift a finger -- Returns pulls your data from AvaTax to prepare and file your returns. If you choose, we can even remit payments for you.

Avalara CertCapture

A seriously upgraded way to manage tax documents in the cloud for tidy, audit-ready records. Syncs with AvaTax to automatically apply exemptions at checkout.

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