Border States

Achieving New Heights in Supply Chain Performance with GAINS

Moving forward faster in the VUCA era and driving significant operational savings and inventory optimization for an electrical distribution leader, continually reaching for more with the use of AI, ML, and analytics from GAINS

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Border States
  • Sixth largest electrical distributor in the United States
  • More than 120 locations in 29 states
  • 100% employee-owned
  • Headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota
  • Serving the utility, industrial, and construction industries
  • 13 mergers and acquisitions since 2000 and growing


purchase order automation in 3 months


material availability after right-sizing inventory levels


reduction in purchase orders despite a 25% increase in locations


cloud-based system adds flexibility and scalability, crucial for expanding operations

“We are rapidly changing the game in electrical distribution at Border States by optimizing our inventory to serve our customers and our bottom line better, quickening our processes with ML and automation, and leveraging the technology and expertise from GAINS. I’ve never been more excited about the future of our supply chain.”

Director of Procurement Operations/Purchasing, Border States

Company Overview

Border States, originating in 1952 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, has a deep history of growth through 13 mergers and acquisitions since 2000. Border States has expanded significantly to become the sixth-largest electrical distributor in the United States, with over 200,000 SKUS and more than 120 branches in 29 states. They are known for their commitment to exceptional products and responsive service; they excel in providing material management solutions and delivery.


Border States’ leadership has created a culture of continually innovating, challenging the status quo, and moving forward despite the volatility and disruption that have become constants in the electrical distribution industry.

Key challenges included:

Adaptation to VUCA and Market Disruptions: Border States needed to proactively address the challenges posed by VUCA, including market disruptions and mergers and acquisitions. Requiring them to enhance resilience and flexibility in operations to quickly adapt to changes and disruptions in the industry while seizing opportunities.
Rapid Industry Evolution: Navigating the fast-paced changes in the electric utility industry requires a proactive approach to adopting new technologies and innovating processes.
• Complex Supply Chain Management: Managing a vast inventory across multiple locations necessitated an efficient, scalable supply chain and procurement process solution.
• Need for Advanced Technology Integration: To maintain its competitive edge and meet evolving customer needs, Border States needed advanced solutions powered by proven algorithms, ML, AI, and more, capable of handling its diverse and expansive operations.
• Cultural Shift: Implementing new technology also meant fostering a cultural shift within the organization, moving towards a more data-driven and analytical approach in their day-to-day operations.

Challenges (cont.)

Border States is adopting new supply chain technology to provide a competitive advantage and operate effectively in this VUCA era, recognizing the need to move to a dynamic infrastructure to continue to leverage its supply chain as a competitive advantage in the fast-evolving electric utility industry market. They proactively sought to enhance their supply chain and procurement processes, setting a new standard for innovation in the industry. Border States’ transition to a dynamic, cloud environment was a strategic move, reflecting their commitment to becoming leaders in efficiency and flexibility.

In their quest to continuously push the envelope and adopt cutting-edge technology, Border States needed to find a supply chain performance optimization platform that could seamlessly manage the scale and diverse needs of their operation and wide array of SKUs. Border States’ goal was to integrate real-time data and adapt to the evolving needs of their varied customer base, all while maintaining their reputation for excellence in the electrical distribution industry.


Choosing GAINS for its proven track record of success, expertise in the distribution industry, and innovative approach, Border States set a path to revolutionize its supply chain management. More than just adopting a new system, it was a commitment to embracing a data-centric culture guided by leaders with an eye on delivering actual results quickly.

Border States transformed their purchasing process using the GAINS Performance Optimization Platform. Their primary goal was to automate 90% of purchase orders sent to vendors, creating a more impactful, responsive, and resilient supply chain – and freeing their team to focus only on exceptions. Achieving this milestone within only three months, Border States demonstrated their commitment to embracing new technology and setting new standards in supply chain management.

More than just implementing new supply chain planning software, Border States focused on changing the way their employees think and work. Embracing cloud solutions and advanced technologies like machine learning (ML) showed the team what was possible in understanding lead times, inventory management, and much more, focusing more on strategic decision-making and analysis than manual processes. This transformation was vital to improving efficiency and maintaining their competitive edge in the industry.

Border States was able to reduce its manual processes and enrich its teams’ focus on strategic decision-making and vendor relationship management. Moreover, Border States has been at the forefront of using ML in its partnership with the GAINS Labs data science team, refining their lead time predictions, resulting in better service and cost reductions across its network.

  • Achieving 90% automation in sending purchase orders to vendors, allowing teams to focus on strategic tasks like vendor spend and supply chain support
  • Better insights led to smarter replenishment policies, resulting in less cost per PO, less reliance on shipping, and improved environmental sustainability.
  • Making more efficient use of working capital

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