How Sport Obermeyer Transitioned to Modern Technology to Boost Supply Chain Efficiency
Sourcing Journal caught up with NGC customer Sport Obermeyer’s COO, Greg Bannister, for a case study interview which highlighted why they needed a robust business system, how they were able to incorporate NGC’s system “extremely fast” and have the business run more effectively and profitably.
Technology may be transforming nearly everything when it comes to retail, but navigating the perplexing world of PLM, ERP, SCM and other acronyms that describe enterprise software, can prove trying for comfortable companies—especially when they’re wed to outdated legacy systems.
When Aspen, Colorado-based skiwear company Sport Obermeyer realized it needed a more robust business system in place than founder Klaus Obermeyer’s handshake, it called in Greg Bannister, now the company COO, to drive the shift.
Obermeyer needed better communication with its overseas factories, better process efficiency, better cost accounting and a shorter production cycle—and the company knew improvements to the aforementioned would mean a better bottom line.
Too much and too old inventory was a problem too.
“All of our purchase orders were written on Excel spreadsheets,” Bannister said. “But when they [the orders] really came into the system, you’d find that the real numbers were very different and no one could understand why we were losing money.”
The company was using an old green-screen system and the staff, some of whom were still learning computer commands like ‘Control V,’ were comfortable with it. So moving them over to an updated system was no simple task.
“Nothing is ever easy,” Bannister said. “If anybody ever tells you the employees are going to rally around and sing songs, they’re kidding. In some cases this company was harder than other companies because this is a family-run business and they’re very protective.
But the biggest challenge, as Bannister explained, was modernizing the company mentality.
“It was trying to change the mentality from a process-based mentality to an enterprise mentality,” he said, like getting employees to understand that entering data earlier will make someone in shipping’s life easier down the line.
Sport Obermeyer had sustained years of marginal growth or losses, but that data was never available in the previous AS400 system and no one was able to analyze the available data.
Bannister took over Obermeyer’s operations in May 2012, interviewed every employee and found that in-house departments weren’t communicating and the company wasn’t hitting its data or margin goals—things that could easily improve by putting a more productive system in place.
After examining the company’s existing systems, Bannister interviewed eight different enterprise software providers and requested live demonstrations of how the software would work. The company ultimately settled on NGC’s Global Enterprise Suite, a fully integrated suite with applications for product lifecycle management (PLM), supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
“The selection was based on what we need as a company,” Bannister said.