FloraCraft Scales for Growth with a Centralized ERP System
- [Brett] I'm Brett Larson, we're here at PowerPlex, we're talking to Steve Carlson with FloraCraft about their implementation of Plex and how it has helped them in the manufacturing process. Steve, thanks for being with us.
- [Steve] Thank you.
- Great to have you. I know what FloraCraft does, but tell us what your company makes, and the industries that you serve.
- Sure, FloraCraft is the world's leading producer of Styrofoam products for the craft and floral industries. We have our products in about 12,000 retail locations in the United States. Among our customers, we count Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Joanne's and a host of other hundreds of floral wholesalers who also carry our products for the floral industry. Most of our customers are either big box stores or they're floral wholesalers, but we do also have a couple customers in the manufacturing industry where we supply foam for certain specialty projects.
- Wow. What are some of the organizational challenges that you faced before going to Plex?
- Before Plex, we had an older ERP system that had a lot of flaws that were causing our business some problems. We weren't able to capture history of changes, was one of our big issues with our system, so the security around permissions wasn't that great. Somebody could just make a change to the system and we had no way of knowing what it was or how to capture it. Our system didn't have a material resource planning module, so for us, even though we were getting customers forecast, we weren't able to use that except to create spreadsheets and complicated paper documents to try to hand out.
We didn't have a...well we had problems with our inventory as well, because our general ledger versus our physical inventory was out of balance all the time. What we've found out since we've moved to Plex is it really had to do more with the capture of manufacturing variances and purchase price variances that we weren't able to capture on our old system. All of those things caused us to reevaluate and say, "We need a new, modern, world-class system."
- And it's obviously helped the way your organization works.
- It has helped the way our organization works. Because we're now capturing cost in a way that we've never been able to capture them before, in our business a tenth of a penny makes a big difference for us. Our products are relatively low priced consumer products, and so for us to be able to have the right bill of material and the right routing steps, to be able to upload our customers' forecasts into Plex which allows us to do longer runs on the floor because we have better planning tools, allows us to lower our costs and share those benefits with our customers.
- "Pass the savings on to you," as they like to say in the old commercials. How has the cloud technology impacted the way your organization works? I mean it sounds like it's given you the ability to take all of these disparate pieces and get them in one place so you can be a few clicks away from a solution.
- It is. The nicest thing about the cloud solution, and what really drew us to the cloud solution was a couple different factors. One of them is that we have plants, different plants in the United States. We have salespeople who work from home or work in other regions of the country. We have sourcing agents that work in other regions of the country, and we have factories that work in other parts of the world. And so for all of us to be on a platform that could be accessed just through an internet connection was really a big deal. So our company is now more connected, and it's more easily accessible.
In addition to that, we didn't really want the burden of data storage and management anymore. We didn't want the security risks that come with it. In a company our size, it's very difficult to have world-class security around your data, and we felt that with Plex, we had a world-class data storage facility, and we could take the burden off maintaining that, which was a nice benefit for our company.
- Right, they mentioned in the keynote, the not having to deal with constant software updates...
- Yes, that's really big for us, because I think anybody knows who uses a Windows product that you're constantly going through update cycles. So with Plex, we're all using the same version. We can opt-in or opt-out of enhancements as they're created, and that is a very nice feature.
- Anything from the PowerPlex Keynote that you're excited about to get back to ...
- I can't imagine anybody wasn't excited walking out of the room today. Just a couple that are notable, I think, is definitely the new user interface. Looks great, it's modern, it's clean, it looks like it's going to save a little bit of time in areas, and so we'll be very excited about that. And for us, we think the partnership with Salesforce looks really interesting, there's no doubt that they're the industry leader in customer care software, and we'd be very excited to take a look at that.
- And what ... looking forward, where do you see the future of technology and manufacturing going?
- Well, I think technology and manufacturing, you definitely are going to have the wearables on the floor, I think that's coming. I think it's gonna take a couple years yet, for that to happen, but I definitely, right now in our shop, we're using handheld scanners to move inventory back and forth. Our shipping people are using them, which means they have to have a hand or something holding a gun or keep it with them, so I do think particularly, for us, in the shipping and logistics department, having kind of a hands-free mobile application would be really beneficial for us.
- I've seen some Google Glass demonstrations where they just have their safety goggles on and everything they look is sort of inventoried.
- Right, I do think that that's one of the things that will happen. And the other thing with technology is just that, you know sensors and robotics are getting cheaper, and so the ability for machines to talk wirelessly to each Plex and give it input I think's another thing that just gonna happen as times goes on.
- Now you also, you had a big win from Walmart, which was kind of astounding, which we just heard about. Tell us about that.
- Well we were just thrilled earlier this year when we were Supplier of the Year with Walmart, so at their Year Beginning Meeting in January, they always honor their Supplier of the Year from the previous year, and we were thrilled to death with it. It's really special for us, we've had a partnership with Walmart for decades now. Crafts was one of the original important categories for Sam Walton. We've been in Walmart for a long time, we have great relationships with all of their senior management. For a company our size competing with Proctor and Gamble and Sony, it was just a huge honor for us, and we couldn't be more happy with it.
- Do you think that ... that Plex gives, not necessarily speaking to your business, but to just in business in general, manufacturing business, does it give the little guy the ability to really compete with the big guy?
- Oh yeah, I mean absolutely it does, because Plex is a software that is affordable for a small company, and for that price you're getting absolutely world-class technology that all the big guys have. So I would say for any medium-sized or smaller company they definitely should put Plex in their mix to take a look at.
- Steve, thank you so much for sitting down with us and telling us your story today. It's great to talk to you and hear about your usage.
- It was my pleasure, thank you very much.
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