Rocky Brands Steps Up to PLM Platform
Apparel Magazine recently featured a case study interview with NGC customer, Rocky Brands to discuss how they are currently using NGC’s Extended PLM/SCM & EZ-Ship (factory scan/pack) solutions as well as Rocky’s future and ambitious new IT Projects with NGC.
Rocky Brands is an old-fashioned kind of company — it is still headquartered in the small town of Nelsonville, Ohio, where it was founded in 1932, and much of its corporate culture is centered around giving back to that community. In terms of its business operations, however, Rocky Brands is anything but old-fashioned. This manufacturer of outdoor footwear is marching into the future with a number of ambitious IT projects.
The company gained fame with an innovative type of hunting boots — the eponymous Rocky Boots — and through growth and acquisitions it expanded to other outdoor, work, western, duty and military footwear as well as outdoor and work apparel and accessories. A year ago, it acquired Creative Recreation, a lifestyle footwear company, which it plans to use as a launching pad to enter the casual footwear market.
With so many specialized, highly technical styles — and so many demanding customers, including the U.S. military — product design and development are central to Rocky Brands’ business. As Mary Lorenz, the company’s vice president of strategy execution and process improvement, puts it, “What customers buy from us is an awesome product proposition.” Over the past few years, Rocky Brands has increased its efforts to incorporate the “voice of the customer” into its products. In addition to using such familiar tools as focus groups, Rocky Brands product developers spend days in retail stores, coal mines and hunting blinds, talking with customers and learning firsthand how their products perform in realworld situations. (One thing they learned in the hunting blind was that their outdoor apparel needed better padding.)
Syncing up PLM and ERP
This focus on product development makes product lifecycle management software especially critical for Rocky Brands. The company has used NGC Software’s Extended PLM/SCM solution since 2005, but, Lorenz says, the original PLM implementation was “bare-bones.” Not until several years later, when Rocky Brands upgraded its Infor ERP system to System21 Aurora, did PLM come to the fore.