Willamette Valley Company
Case Study: The Willamette Valley Company
Solution: IFS Application ERP
Industry: Wood Products Industry
About The Company
The Willamette Valley Company (WVCO) supplies goods and services to the wood-products industry and retail markets. Since its inception in 1952, the Eugene, Oregon-based company has grown from a small entrepreneurial distributorship into a global manufacturing firm with more than 300 employees and 10 divisions. The company’s products include synthetic patching compounds; wood putties; paints, sealers and primers; specialty coatings; and precision fluid-management equipment. Its wellknown brand names include Amazing Goop™, Shoe Goo™, E–6000™ adhesives, Famowood™ and Wood-Tex™ wood fillers, and SpikeFast®filler for plugging railroad tie holes.
With 10 divisions and diverse product lines, WVCO employs a variety of production environments. Some of company’s divisions use make-to-order, others use make-to-stock, and still others switch from one environment to another to meet customer demands. Most divisions are processoriented, but others are involved in discrete manufacturing.
WVCO’s IT staff faced a major challenge because its legacy IT
systems lacked the flexibility to handle the diverse types of manufacturing. To complicate matters, the company’s systems were batch-oriented and poorly integrated. Its information platform included large databases for accounting, sales, and manufacturing, none of which communicated well with the others. Some critical business data resided on individual PCs. “Our target was to provide a smarter, more meaningful, and more timely information platform,” said Gerald Nakamura, WVCO’s chief information officer. “We needed a centralized base of real-time information to help our executives make faster, better decisions.” WVCO saw its customers and
suppliers as the critical bookends of its business and wanted an enterprise system that would meet the needs of both. “We needed to make procurement and dealing with our suppliers as easy as order fulfillment and customer service on the customer side,” Nakamura said.
Best-fit solution WVCO formed a team of 10 managers to research, evaluate, and recommend a new system to the executive committee. Initially, the evaluation team considered incremental improvements to the existing systems but soon realized that a new enterprise system would offer far better payback. After an 18 month search, the team recommended IFS Applications ERP Concluding that only IFS could provide both the functionality that the company needed and the flexibility that it desired. The executive committee approved the recommendation. The decision to purchase IFS Applications went beyond tangible considerations: The evaluation team felt strongly that IFS was a good fit because its corporate style matched WVCO’s own. “A critical part of our decision revolved around our feeling about IFS and its people,” Nakamura said. “We have a philosophy of partnering with our customers to find solutions that benefit those customers. IFS has a similar approach—they want to be an integral part of our business.” ‘Seamless’ implementation WVCO implemented IFS Applications in a three-tier architecture using HP servers and clients. A database server handles the Oracle® database. Other application servers, using Citrix® products, handle the IFS modules, which run on the Microsoft® Windows® Server® 2003 operating system. The financial applications at the company’s headquarters manage the business processes. The manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain components handle the local facilities and production processes. The implementation team concluded that, to ensure success, the new system would need to be implemented in 120 days or less per site.
All eight manufacturing sites went live on time and under budget, according to Nakamura, and at no time was it necessary to run the new system in parallel with the old one. “We’ve been making the change using the classic ‘throw the switch’ methodology,” Nakamura said. “Still, the transition has been seamless, with no disruptions to our customer or supplier relations.” The benefits The most important proof of the IFS implementation’s success is that it was virtually invisible. “Our goal was to take orders, manufacture our products, and ship on time without our customers noticing any difference in service,” Nakamura said. “And we were successful at this.” For the first time, the IFS software has enabled WVCO to spread best business practices and processes throughout the enterprise. Personnel in all divisions, representing diverse functional areas, are following consistent processes. This, coupled with the software’s ease of use, simplifies cross-training. “IFS Applications has been even more intuitive than we had anticipated— basically it’s foolproof,” Nakamura said. “We are especially pleased to have used IFS Business Modeler™ to map our new processes. It was a lifesaver to us, and I would recommend this tool to anyone.” Nakamura said he has been especially impressed with IFS’ forecasting and analysis tools, which allow personnel to concentrate on tasks that are most critical to the operation of the business.
Also, the IFS software has brought the company’s manufacturing facilities in Georgia and Louisiana in closer touch with headquarters. Personnel at these facilities can now access real-time information that shows what is being planned and helps them forecast manufacturing and distribution requirements. Financial and manufacturing data is shared throughout the enterprise, and reports can be generated instantly. Nakamura praised IFS’ electronic data interchange (EDI) solution, which he said is easy to use and has decreased the turnaround time for booking orders. He also has been pleased with the integrated warehouse management system developed by an IFS partner, which has allowed WVCO to decrease levels of finished goods inventory as appropriate. “Overall, I’m impressed with th of partnerships that IFS has established,” Nakamura said. “The partners complement IFS’ functionality and expertise nicely, providing a complete solution tailored to our specific requirements.” Nakamura added that the ultimate goal of any enterprise system implementation is to provide opportunities for increasing revenue. “That’s already happening,” Nakamura said. “With IFS, we’re much nimbler in response to market demands, which has led to increased sales. And if there’s a problem—say our margins are down and we need to know why we have the real-time data to pinpoint the problem and fix it immediately.”
Learn more about IFS ERP system software.