Pet Food Experts gains an edge over the competition

Serving customers more effectively with IBM and Infor technology

Published on 11-Jan-2013

"We were blown away by how easy it was to migrate to the IBM Power 720 server. I have worked with many platforms over the years, and it’s often difficult to upgrade from one version to the next. This was completely painless: our users noticed nothing except that systems ran much faster." - Gary Jarvis, Director of Information Technologies at Pet Food Experts

Customer:
Pet Food Experts

Industry:
Wholesale Distribution & Services

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Integration

IBM Business Partner:
Maximum Computer Systems Inc.

Overview

The mission statement “When you win, we win!” lies at the center of the Pet Food Experts’ (PFX) ethos, striving to help pet industry retailers and brands flourish. Operating from corporate headquarters in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and a distribution center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Pet Food Experts aims to become the most efficient distributor of pet food and supplies in the north east region of the United States. The company employs approximately 250 people, and recently won the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) Distributor of the Year award for the second time.

Business need:
Pet Food Experts wanted to gain better insight into its inventory and supply chains in order to enhance the customer experience and identify opportunities to boost efficiency.

Solution:
Enabled access to real-time information on orders for both internal users and customers through a web portal, facilitating closer synchronization between stock levels and demand.

Benefits:
Offers a key competitive advantage by helping to ensure availability of stock while minimizing the cost of holding surplus goods. Helps boost customer satisfaction and company performance.

Case Study

The mission statement “When you win, we win!” lies at the center of the Pet Food Experts’ (PFX) ethos, striving to help pet industry retailers and brands flourish. Operating from corporate headquarters in Cumberland, Rhode Island, and a distribution center in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Pet Food Experts aims to become the most efficient distributor of pet food and supplies in the north east region of the United States. The company employs approximately 250 people, and recently won the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) Distributor of the Year award for the second time.

Striving for excellence
PFX prides itself on being a truly customer-centric organization, continually seeking new ways to enhance the buying experience for its clients. As a result, when the company began noticing that its customers wanted greater visibility of the status of their orders, it decided to find a better way to gain insight into its end-to-end order management process.

Gary Jarvis, Director of Information Technologies at Pet Food Experts, explains: “Operating in a highly competitive business, technology is one of the key differentiators at our disposal. We realized that enhancing visibility of our processes for internal users and customers alike could pay off two-fold: internal users could spot ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness, while customers could get more precise information on their orders.”

To achieve this, PFX needed to move away from its existing home-grown ERP system, which was hosted on an aging server. Due to the company experiencing prodigious growth in the last few years, there was an increasing need for greater resources and scalability. Jarvis comments: “Our existing solution had grown along with us over the last 15 years. It had become a patchwork of modifications that was proving increasingly difficult to extend, presenting a potential barrier to growth.”

Making changes
Following a review of the leading products available on the market, PFX decided to replace its legacy system with Infor Distribution A+, a leading distribution management solution specifically designed to help distributors maximize efficiency in every stage of the process, from accounting and sales to the warehouse. Following the success of the initial implementation of this solution, PFX is currently in the process of upgrading to the latest version of the software, which offers a host of useful new features.

“Deploying Infor Distribution A+ has transformed our insight into distribution, giving us immediate access to data on every aspect of the process,” says Jarvis. “The latest version supports most of the functionality we need out of the box, minimizing the amount of customization work we need to do, and proving that Infor really listens to what its users want. For example, the new web-based GUI [graphical user interface] is incredibly user-friendly, putting point-and-click capability to the fore – which makes it ideal for our sales team to use while they are on the telephone.”

To support the Infor solution, PFX recently replaced its existing IBM® Power® 520 machine with an IBM Power 720 Express server, running the IBM i V6.1 operating system. The PFX IT team handled the implementation in-house in a single weekend. IBM Business Partner Maximum Computer Services Inc. offer ongoing support for the solution.

“We were blown away by how easy it was to migrate to the IBM Power 720 server,” comments Jarvis. “I have worked with many platforms over the years, and it’s often difficult to upgrade from one version to the next. This was completely painless: our users noticed nothing except that systems ran much faster. As an IT Director, that is the sort of feedback you want to get!”

Seeing the benefits
Using the IBM and Infor solution, PFX can access real-time data on the stock in its warehouses, enabling the company to closely synchronize inventory levels against demand. PFX managers can draw on current and historical data to assess performance over time, and can easily identify opportunities to boost efficiency. Moreover, PFX is now able to offer customers a real-time view of information on their orders via a web portal.

“Implementing Infor Distribution A+ running on IBM Power Systems™ technology ensures that we have 24/7, end-to-end visibility of our business, without fail,” says Jarvis. “It has given both us and our customers a deeper understanding of our day-to-day business. It enables us to keep our inventory at just the right level, so we don’t need to say ‘no’ to customer orders, and at the same time we can minimize our storage costs.

“We can also use the solution to pick out areas where we need to improve, and others where we are excelling, and spread best practices throughout the organization. As for our customers, they can view the status of their orders at any time, allowing them to better coordinate their own stock levels.”

Looking to the future
As a result of the project, PFX has gained the ideal platform to support future growth, as Jarvis explains: “We see the alliance between IBM and Infor as a major advantage – with their huge customer-base and deep industry experience, they are able to anticipate what companies like ours really need. And as a result, they are able to develop truly innovative and effective solutions. We feel excited about what’s coming next from IBM and Infor, as we have already seen the transformative effects that their solutions can have on our business.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power 720 Express, Power Systems, Power Systems running i

Software:
IBM i

Operating system:
IBM i

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Corporation Systems and Technology Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America January 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Power and Power Systems are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Maximum Computer Systems Inc. are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Maximum Computer Systems Inc. makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Infor Distribution A+ is not an IBM product or offering. Infor Distribution A+ is sold or licensed, as the case may be, to users under Infor’s terms and conditions, which are provided with the product or offering. Availability, and any and all warranties, services and support for Infor Distribution A+ is the direct responsibility of, and is provided directly to users by, Infor.