In the spring of 2017, Deacom began implementation if its ERP system for Teasdale Foods, a leading manufacturer and provider of Hispanic food products, headquartered Atwater, California. The company has seen tremendous growth over the past few years both organically and through acquisitions and is currently operating with six different facilities.
Just as the teams were wrapping up the last the facility implementation of DEACOM, we sat down with CEO, Chris Kiser. He talked about their business, the process leading up to choosing Deacom, and his take on the overall implementation process. Here’s what he had to say…
DN: Can you tell us about Teasdale Foods and how you came about needing a new ERP system?
CK: We’re an independent Hispanic food manufacturer marketer. We work across the retail and food service channels and touch pretty much every aspect of the food business. We’ve had a very strong organic growth story, but it’s also been one of a very inclusive nature – We’ve done four acquisitions over the last couple years and in that process had a significant, transformative impact on the growth of the company. With those acquisitions came four separate ERPs running each of the businesses, which obviously created a significant amount of challenge and complexity for us from the perspective of how you manage the business, how you report on the business, and how you measure and manage the nature of the performance of the business.
Having a common language and a common set of accounts – all of those things are critical. Absent that what you end up doing is creating massive spreadsheets that just have reams of data fraught with all kinds of fat fingering errors, complexities with pivot tables, and formulas related to links and VLOOKUPs.
As you acquire companies, what you learn is, as much as you like to believe that every company has the same cultural dynamics and every company functions the same way, you quickly realize that’s not the case. Every company has its own heartbeat. And when you have multiple ERPs, typically those heartbeats beat to the ERP that exists. When you have a common ERP and they’re all beating to that same one, it just makes the culture dynamic that much easier because now everybody is using the same language.
DN: What lead you to choose DEACOM?
CK: We put together a selection team that was represented cross-functionally across the organization and identified six areas of focus. We looked at everything, all the way from the beginning of the bill of materials through to cash application. The team felt really good about the overall pieces and how DEACOM could handle them, but I think what stood out most for us occurred during the demo sessions.
These sessions happened over a couple days for each of the potential vendors that we considered. In some of the other cases, we’d have to pause, and someone else would have to come in because it took somebody different to run a particular module. But with Deacom, you had one person that was able to drive the solution end to end.
What that said to us, was that DEACOM was more intuitive and would be easier overall to grasp and for people to be able to leverage, versus having to have specific experts that only know how to use one piece or one part of the software. That really stood out to the team as part of that phase of the project in terms of selecting a partner.
DN: What was your experience like with the implementation of Deacom across your facilities?
CK: One of the things that we decided to do up front brought on a dedicated project manager. They took on an internal leadership role for us which really made a significant difference. We kicked off the project in March of 2017, bringing our team and the Deacom team together.
Starting with our Louisville, KY facility we laid out what the chart of the work was going to look like, how it would flow, and the timelines. The process engineering sessions completely outlined all of the SOPs and got all of the detailed criteria defined. We had internal corporate teams working on the corporate stuff related to hierarchies, chart of accounts – all the things that tie back to the general ledger and making sure that we had that the way we wanted. We had really good alignment from day one with what is it we’re trying to do, why are we doing it, and what’s the intended outcome.
We adopted the same process for each subsequent facility as we did with the ones prior – why reinvent the wheel. The core implementation team was a bit nervous for the first facility, a little less nervous on the 2nd facility, then hit their stride… by the 5th one there was nothing to it. The process definitely got faster with each new facility.
DN: Can you talk about the team dynamic and what that was like?
CK: There are just times when people come together, and they click – I think that’s what happened here. I sat in on two go-live weekends in two of the facilities, sitting alongside the team just watching it all unfold, starting at whatever time on a Friday and not leaving until Midnight or later on a Sunday night. I think that everybody that was involved and engaged with the process just really, really worked well together. And especially really worked in a problem-solving way together. There was a lot of good listening going on. Someone would say, “Hey I don’t understand this,” or “This isn’t working like it’s supposed to,” and then someone on the Deacom side would say, “Well help me understand that, walk me through why you’re saying that,” and that would lead to a conclusion.
Sometimes it was about education, sometimes it might involve some tweak of the system, whatever it may be. All that was done in a real-time kind of way. I know I’m grossly oversimplifying the volume of work here and the quality and the effort, but at the end of the day I think the teams really found their stride together from very early on and I think everybody was committed to the same outcome, which is “How do we make this successful.”
DN: What kinds of benefits have you seen since being live on DEACOM?
CK: We standardized all of the SOPs across the company so we’re doing work all the same way now. We’ve been able to centralize corporate procurement which is a huge plus for us. We’ve been able to dramatically simplify management of the daily business, the speed in which we close our books, the way in which we report out on our performance – all those things have been significant steps in the right direction.
We’re one face to the customer that we do business with now. So, they’re not getting inundated from our company from multiple vantage points. They’re getting one vantage point, whether that’s how they process POs, how we invoice, or how they pay – all those types of things.
There’s a significant amount of complexity removed from the business – I think that in and of itself has been very powerful.
DN: What do you see in the future for Teasdale and DEACOM?
CK: Our desire is to continue to grow. We’re going to continue to grow the platform organically, and we’re going to continue to make decisions as we go forward to grow the business through acquisitions when those opportunities present themselves and they make sense for us. So, the ability to have a scalable ERP platform was also important to us. And it certainly was as we did our assessments and our evaluations way back when. We believed then that DEACOM could manage that and as we’ve migrated through six implementations, across six manufacturing facilities and now got the company on one set of books, we’re only bolstered by our belief that DEACOM can scale with us as we grow as well.