About The Company
UFP has two big things going for it.
1. It is a diverse manufacturer with three major brands: United Foam makes high performance packaging, parts and products from foams, plastics and specialty fabrics; Simco Automotive develops, engineers and manufactures interior trim and structural components; and Molded Fiber designs and manufactures packaging from recycled paper.
2. The company focuses on building a collaborative
working environment: UFP manufacturers, converts and distributes a wide range of parts and products. It operates 11 plants in 10 states spanning four time zones, but works hard to link departments, teams and divisions in support of each other.
In 2016, the company implemented Exact Synergy to increase communication, knowledge sharing and accountability across its divisions. “There is commonality in customers, internal processes and materials throughout” says Wright. “We’re evolving, collaborating and unifying to serve customers better.” UFP’s 550 employees worked together to generate $110 million in sales in 2018, their best year ever. According to Wright, their productivity correlates with their ability to cooperate internally, externally, interdepartmentally and within divisions. “The company is intercontinental and innovative, with tens of thousands of products,” says Wright. “We’re primarily a make to order company. We have many reorders, but we’re continually developing new products. One customer will work with several of our plants. If the plants work together, we can turn that customer into a much bigger piece of business.”
Results and Benefits
In 2016, UFP sought to integrate front and back office processes, consolidate data onto a single shared corporate database and increase productivity. “I wanted a collaborative system that was customizable, Sarbanes-Oxley compliant and required minimal user training,” says Wright. That year, UFP’s 11 plants implemented Exact Synergy, web-based software that unifies an organization’s people, processes and knowledge to create an accurate view of business activities, personnel, finance, sales, and assets. For UFP, Synergy provided the technology platform that helped cross-functional teams and remote departments work together more effectively and consolidated UFP’s data into a single corporate database. It also provided workflow management and a portal view into the company for employees, suppliers and customers. Shortly after the Synergy deployment, Wright added Exact Event Manager to his portfolio of Exact solutions. Event Manager identifies and attends to situations that, when ignored, can escalate into unmanageable problems. UFP’s follow up of leads, Request for Quote turnaround, and Request for Samples improved. “Both systems can help a business become more collaborative,” says Wright. “We have more process workflows throughout all our plants. Synergy allows us to create what we want. Our only limit is our imagination because it’s so customizable. really because of the combination of Synergy with Event Manager.
Right now we’re working on tying our sales pipeline to our engineering pipeline.” When UFP created its sales pipeline using Synergy, it began as a one-step sales pipeline workflow, a sales opportunity assigned and routed to the account manager for follow up. Then an evolution began. Wright created a three step RFQ workflow that involved not only the account manager, but also customer service, engineering, and plant management. So the workflow became a process involving four departments whose follow up was key. The division estimator developed the quote, attached the quote documents and worksheets, and submitted it to customer service and the account manager. If the sales rep was on the road or delayed, customer service followed through. Once the RFQ was approved, both sales and customer service received an email daily (via Event Manager) until the RFQ was delivered to the account. Engineering and plant management were also linked in with documented requests and responses to ensure employee accountability along the way.
In the last two years, UFP has created 30 process workflows to streamline activities and unify departments in the service of customers. Sales increased 31% between 2005 and 2008. “UFP communicates well, both internally and with customers and suppliers,” says Wright. “We have the systems in place where we’re sharing information effectively. Accountability has increased. Someone in Illinois needs somebody in Florida to help them serve a customer and it no longer falls through the cracks. We’re evolving into a more unified organization, and it couldn’t happen at a better time.”