Stonewall Kitchen knows a thing or two about the perfect ingredient. Sourcing only the season’s freshest fruits, vegetables and herbs for its award-winning products, the company established a recipe for success, and a following that has turned Stonewall Kitchen into one of the most awarded specialty food manufacturers in the United States. Not long after moving production from a faour burner stove in their kitchen to a commercial setup, the founders, Jonathan King and Jim Stott, realized they needed to implement a software solution that could grow with their small food empire.
Stonewall Kitchen struggled to see a full view of inventory, product lead time and customer data from their disparate, piecemealed systems. They knew that to not negatively impact customer service, they needed to proactively make changes to handle the anticipated growth. “Before we had Dynamics NAV, nothing was tied together,” says Lori King, Chief Operating Officer. “We were running tiny pieces of different software to handle everything and it was proving to be impossible. We had no inventory control and no item tracking, so it was very difficult to identify the source of any problems. We couldn’t see any detail at item level, no reporting was available, and we couldn’t tell which of our products were more profitable than others.” The system was not set up for success and leadership knew it.
Stonewall Kitchen looked at Microsoft Dynamics SL, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics NAV when shopping for a solution to streamline their business processes. “As a young, expanding company, our biggest challenge has been managing our tremendous growth,” says Jonathan King. “We were open to new technology and its possibilities, and we needed an ERP system that would grow as our company grew. What we didn’t need was an ERP system that would bury our business.” They choose Dynamics NAV and leading global food partner, Columbus.
Columbus worked closely with Stonewall Kitchen to fully understand its business needs and challenges. They required a solution that could scale to meet the needs of its business while it grew and sought a local partner with deep industry expertise. Focused on prepared food manufacturers and distributors, Columbus’s food team won the trust and confidence of Stonewall Kitchen and has maintained it ever since. The overall ease of use made it simple for the implementation to be “everyone’s business,” resulting in a smooth implementation and an endlessly happy customer empowered to grow.
Everyone’s hand was in the jar to implement Dynamics NAV. “We had very little disruption to our business,” says Andrea Hall, Information Systems Director. “It took a weekend to transfer orders from the old system and that was it.” For Stonewall Kitchen’s employees, Dynamics NAV was fast and easy to learn, in most cases requiring a few hours of on-the-job training with a current system user - a huge benefit in the peak times, when many seasonal employees are brought on.
With 50% of their business in the fourth quarter, Stonewall Kitchen relies on Dynamics NAV to keep up with customer demand. A customer’s history, as well as products, availability and delivery times are available instantly, allowing employees to provide superior customer service and place orders faster.
Just as Jonathan King wanted, Dynamics NAV didn’t bury the business. In fact, it took the lid off issues, both fueling growth and keeping up with volume - something the previous systems had not been able to do. After the implementation of Dynamics NAV, they had the ability add, grow or change their business without their business applications limiting them. Dynamics NAV never said ‘no’ to any need, there wasn’t a function it couldn’t handle – so Stonewall Kitchen kept saying ‘yes’ to growth.
Since the implementation over a decade ago, Stonewall Kitchen has grown over 400%, expanding into a small food empire, integrated with a catalog ordering system, gift card program, nine Stonewall Kitchen brick and mortar stores, a cafe and cooking school. Stonewall Kitchen has increased productivity, improved cross-division communication and customer service continues to steadily grow. In 2010, the number of units manufactured was at 7 million, an increase of 540% from pre-Dynamics NAV numbers. Dynamics NAV’s impact has increased productivity, cross-division communication and customer service, allowing Stonewall Kitchen to focus on their energy on their brand excellence and growth in the market.
"ColumbusFood helps maintain our company culture. Everyone is empowered to suggest improvements; we know our solution is flexible enough to accommodate change while continually improving business processes.”
Lori King, Chief Operations Officer, Stonewall Kitchen
Implemented to the specific business needs, challenges and growth goals of Stonewall Kitchen, the company continues to prosper under the flexible nature of Dynamics NAV and with the consulting expertise of Columbus. With a perfect ingredient like Dynamics NAV and a partnership with the most experienced Microsoft Dynamics implementation and support organization in the world, Stonewall Kitchen’s success will continue to be uncanny.
“Dynamics NAV helps us work faster and get more orders out the door. If we didn’t have it, we would never be this big,” says Lori King. “We love Dynamics NAV… I wouldn’t want to be in business without it. It has grown with us in just the way we wanted it to.”