Greg Allarding – Mansfield Energy Corp.
Greg Allarding began his career in tech by flipping burgers.
Well, actually, he’d advanced from the grills and fry vats at a McDonald’s to become an 18-year-old manager burdened by reams of paper detailing restaurant operations. It was the mid-‘80s and in those days, even if Matthew Broderick was hacking his way into U.S. Department of Defense computers in the movie “War Games,” McDonald’s managers filled out forms in pencil with adding machines close at hand.
Broderick wasn’t available to help Allarding. But Lotus was, he recalls, and its software allowed him to ditch the pencils for a keypad, as he began automating spreadsheets to make his work easier.
Flash forward to the 21st century and Allarding is still transforming. Now it’s in the energy industry, which he notes has not always recognized the potential of digital technology.
At Mansfield Energy Corp., Allarding has been guiding automation efforts since 2016, while accommodating customers and suppliers that may remain further behind on the technology curve. Those customers and suppliers may have gotten past handwritten spreadsheets, but invoicing, reconciliation and order management are still too often done by hand.
“At Mansfield, we tend to be innovative and constantly evolve,” says Allarding, the senior vice president and chief information officer. “We’re always looking for opportunities to grow our business while improving the experiences of our customers, vendor partners and employees.”
Founded more than 60 years ago, Mansfield Energy remains a family-owned company in its second generation of leadership. It supplies 8,000 customers across the U.S. and Canada and delivers more than 3 billion gallons of fuel, renewables and associated products annually. Forbes magazine ranks it the 48th largest private company in the U.S. for its volume of business, and customers include UPS and FedEx, Coca-Cola and the U.S. Navy.
The catch is that Mansfield doesn’t deliver what it sells with its own fleet. It mostly works through a network of 1,200 vendor partners, Allarding explains.
After joining Mansfield in May 2016, and setting out to automate the way Mansfield operates, Allarding knew his work would be complicated by suppliers and customers having their own software, if any.
First, he completed an ongoing replacement of the enterprise resource planning system already handling order management. Named Entinuum, the new ERP is custom built. It’s nearly complete, with only a few customers left to onboard, and provides the foundation for transforming operations, he says.
“Because the company is built on core customer values and we need to be accommodating, it forces specificity and complexity into managing relationships,” Allarding explains. “There’s no commercial ERP that could satisfy those demands.”
Where drivers had previously filled out delivery information manually and submitted the information to office staff to process, Entinuum allows them to transmit that information directly to Mansfield. That, in turn, can speed up the billing cycle. Allarding says Mansfield still has vendor partners that email spreadsheets or can’t make large investments in technology, so Entinuum is also built to easily incorporate the information even when submitted indirectly.
Because oil and gas are cash intensive businesses, quicker billing cycles are crucial for Mansfield, and Allarding notes Mansfield’s customers also benefit from getting billed almost immediately after a delivery.
Viewing the data
In June 2020, he and Mansfield launched FuelNet, a portal on the company website offering data on fuel pricing, delivery tracking, fuel equipment management and invoice status. The new portal, which continues to be tweaked, replaces one that looks like it was built in the ‘80s, he jokes.
“Our customers didn’t have great visibility into what their fuel spend really was except for at the highest level,” Allarding says. “We can give them insights into their spending all the way down to their truck, if they need it.”
Entinuum is a homegrown response to customer and operating needs, but Allarding adds his work has been made easier because of Mansfield’s partnership with JKTech of New York City.
The partnership existed well before he joined Mansfield, and Allarding says he’s benefited from JKTech’s software development expertise.
“They were the primary source of developers for Entinuum,” he says. “It’s fairly specialized given the complexity of the business. Some of them have been working on this for seven years.”
JKTech President and CEO Aloke Paskar says Entinuum culminates a strong partnership.
“We are incredibly delighted with our 10-year-long association with Mansfield Oil. In collaboration, we have revolutionized the Entinuum Solution landscape as an enabler for application modernization and overall business optimization,” Paskar says. “We look forward to creating value for Mansfield in their digital transformation journey.”
Improvements to the customer-facing operations are matched by innovations improving Mansfield’s back-end operations and how it buys its fuel, Allarding explains.
“You would not believe the number of ways you can buy from suppliers at a refinery,” he notes.
Mansfield’s supply management group can buy fuel in bulk, but because commodity prices fluctuate, it also needs the flexibility to take advantage of price changes that may occur daily. It needs automation and analytics to assess the market in real time.
With information from suppliers and vendor partners digitized, Allarding says he’ll integrate Microsoft Azure for analytics to move from simpler transactional reporting to areas like forecasting peak demand times as well as commodities pricing. This will help Mansfield get the best deals in a business where profit margins are typically thin.
A native of the Chicago area, Allarding continued managing the McDonald’s for about eight more years after adding Lotus to its operating menu. When it came time to move on, he headed south and studied management information systems at the University of South Florida.
After earning his degree from USF in 1993, he became a senior analyst for Florida Power Corp. In August 1994, he joined Accenture, where for 16 years he planned and managed complex system implementations. In August 2010, he joined Comverge, an oil and energy company in Norcross, Georgia, as chief information officer and became chief operating officer while serving more than 500 utility and 2,100 commercial customers. In May 2016, Allarding joined Mansfield.
“We’re transforming the organization from transactional order entry to be a more highly automated, digitized business where the workforce can scale operations at the pace we want to grow,” he says. “Things are really starting to come together this year. It’s sometimes hard to see that in the day-to-day, but it’s going to be an exciting year.”
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