Creamer Metal Products, Inc., is a manufacturer and distributor of material handling equipment for the grain industry in the agricultural community, as well as a contract manufacturer to other commercial industries. Formed in 1946 by Kermit and Donna Creamer, it sells both domestically and internationally to dealers who sell directly to the end user, or to the installer or millwright. Their extensive product line includes bucket elevators, grain distributors, cleaners, screw and drag conveyors, and all associated accessories necessary for a complete installation.
Wes Jacobs is General Manager for Creamer, responsible for managing the company's financial systems. He has more than 25 years of experience with ERP systems and held IT director roles prior to moving into top management.
Near the end of 2006, Creamer Metal Products faced a number of new challenges associated with helping its customers capitalize on an emerging opportunity — ethanol production. People across the agricultural industry were quickly retooling to gain from government initiatives promoting the biofuel. As a result, Creamer's dealers were clamoring for the parts that made it possible, and Creamer was struggling to keep up with the demand.
While the sudden spike seemed a very good thing, in the short-term, the incumbent paper-dominated business processes were not efficient enough to handle it. Creamer needed to move quickly to correct the issue, or it would miss out on key revenue opportunities.
With this in mind, Creamer for the first time welcomed in management from outside the family, and hired Wes Jacobs, in order to help tackle the problems using his knowledge of technology and manufacturing industry best practices. In Jacobs' view, Creamer needed inventory and financial systems to match this progression, rather than continuing to try to manage the enterprise using QuickBooks Pro and a custom order entry system.
Creamer also required a solution to
- Capitalize on short-term ethanol opportunities
- Create a more efficient operation in advance of the economic downturn
- Manage business that included enterprise-level manufacturing functionality
- Continue to grow its market while maintaining the high levels of service its longstanding dealers and customers expected
- Provide technology enabling it to scale upward
- Allow for scalability as the company grew
"What set xTuple apart from the start was how solid the functionality was for the price," said Jacobs. "Most small- to mid-sized companies cannot afford the more expensive ERP systems out there, but they do need a system. xTuple's offering was clearly the best value."
However, the quality of the product during the scoping phase wasn't the only reason xTuple stood out. Jacobs believes an ERP package is only as good as its flexibility and strength of its next revision. In talking with xTuple's CEO, Ned Lilly, he learned quickly that this was a shared value.
Creamer chose xTuple ERP Manufacturing Edition, an award winning, fully integrated, end-to-end software system for manufacturers. With separate modules for managing each dimension of a manufacturing business from the shop floor through to accounting, Jacobs knew he had chosen a sufficiently powerful tool but had concerns about earning adoption among users. What he might not have anticipated was the speed at which his company would accomplish the transition.
xTuple ran multiple training sessions for Creamer personnel, and the extensive online user community also gave Creamer a chance to interact with other xTuple customers in order to discuss best practices and even gather code recommendations.
Perhaps most importantly, by the end of the project, Creamer had successfully retooled its business for the future, allowing it to serve both its traditional customer and those that will emerge in the future as it seeks to serve other alternative energy niches such as Wind Technology.
- Separate modules for managing each dimension of manufacturing (from shop floor through accounting)
- Top-level reduction of inventory expenses: xTuple helped cut 50% of unnecessary expenses
- Successful implementation of standard costing improved profitability, even in the midst of economic downturn
- Ease of use and high adoption
- More measurable returns on investment