Operating in the Company of Giants

Feature Article | October 31, 2007 by admin

Corbond Corporation, based in the heart of “Big Sky Country” in Bozeman, Montana, develops, manufactures, and markets spray-in-place polyurethane foam insulation products for the U.S. market. The material it employs has been used for many years in thermos bottles, refrigerators, and commercial freezers and coolers. Corbond developed ways to use it effectively for home and commercial building insulation. A premium product, Corbond has the highest performance R-Factor (resistance to heat flow) achievable for insulation products on today’s market. In addition to isolating indoor and outdoor climates, Corbond also adds strength to structures and provides the added benefit of noise reduction.
According to Nigel F. Maynard, Senior Editor for “Builder Magazine”, fiberglass’s share in the insulation market is approximately 85 percent. “But an increasing number of builders and architects consider sprayed foam insulation to be a superior product. It is the fastest-growing segment of the insulation market, and many industry observers believe that it will soon displace fiberglass as the product of choice for builders and home buyers.”
This is a big opportunity for Corbond.

Required: a giant size solution in a small package

Corbond operates with a team of fewer than twenty people and minimal resources. It’s a tall order to present the face of an insulation powerhouse on the same playing field with well known Fortune 1000 companies. And while it may not be a household name yet, Corbond has a strong reputation among architects, developers, and builders.
Ben Ganser, Chief of Operation and Finance at Corbond, says, “A little more than two years ago we began our process of upgrading the company’s IT infrastructure in order to do even more with even fewer people. That’s what prompted us to look for an accounting package to replace the one we had been using.”
Two issues put Ganser over the edge in deciding to replace the accounting software. The first occurred when he had to take some financials to the bank and the accounting team couldn’t reconcile subledger and general ledger data. “It was very embarrassing,” admits Ganser.
The second challenge came when the team couldn’t determine whether a particular customer was eligible for a discount. “After four hours of digging, we still couldn’t find the answer,” says Ganser. “We complained to our application supplier who said, ‘Well, we could write a report for you.’ But that just wasn’t a satisfactory response.”

Out of the frying pan into the fire

With the help of a third-party consultant, Ganser and his team conducted a careful needs analysis, with inputs from all the company’s stakeholders, and chose a new platform.
It was installed in April of 2006. But within two months it was apparent that this software was not the right choice. Ganser observes, “It turned out to be a very frustrating experience. It was just so resource-intensive that we lost an entire person to accounting, so other work just wasn’t getting done.” Team members struggled with having to fix the same problems, such as issues with check printing, over and over. “Some people were so unhappy with the inefficiencies of this system that they would have been glad just to use green accounting pads,” Ganser laughs.
And it was actually costing more money than the old solution had. By Ganser’s calculations, the old solution had cost $1100 per week to manage their accounting. And they couldn’t satisfy the president’s request for management reports. The new solution was costing $2500 per week and they still couldn’t get required information to the president’s desk. Not only that, because the solution was so resource-intensive, their accounting department was becoming the fastest growing department in the company and other work wasn’t getting done.

Stanching the loss and choosing again

At that point, Ganser happened to speak with a friend who had been through a similar situation. She observed that for the same amount of money that he’d spent to acquire the new solution Corbond could have had an SAP solution. This was news to Ganser. “We didn’t realize that SAP made programs for companies our size,” he says.
He contacted SAP and was referred to Software Outfitters, an SAP Business Partner in Eagle, Idaho. Ganser says, “We saw immediately that SAP Business One is far more than just a data-crunching accounting package. We liked its strategic aspect.” Ganser made the business case for the change. “We took a huge write off to do this, but it was the right move.”

Ready to take on the giants

The SAP Business One implementation went smoothly, partly because the team had so recently re-written the chart of accounts for the interim solution. Ganser notes, “The data conversion still required considerable work but our Software Outfitters consultants helped the process unfold easily.” The system went live on May 1, 2007, just 13 months after the rollout of the failed previous solution.
“We now have the ability to view and manage every function of our business, and Software Outfitters has written some additional reports that we needed.” This gives Corbond an advantage it didn’t have in the past in its quest to take on the giants in the industry as the demand for sprayed foam insulation grows.
While Ganser hasn’t yet calculated the weekly cost to run the SAP Business One solution, he says that initial feedback from users is that it takes far less time for people to get what they need. They report that they appreciate the solution’s simplicity and its intuitive ease of use for such things as changing serial numbers. E-learning courses from the SAP Business One e-learning catalog, including “Business One Overview & Navigation,” “Procurement & Sales Processes,” and “Batches & Serial Numbers” helped people get up to speed quickly.
Calling out a specific vote of confidence, Ganser says, “After three days, the woman who does the invoicing said, ‘I love this program. It’s the greatest thing ever.’ It has enabled her to complete her invoicing quickly and it freed her up to do the rest of her work.”
Bottom line for Ganser is that he can get timely information to the bank now. Not only that, he says, “I was able to get the president the best set of financials he’s had in three years. And it’s a repeatable process.”

Christine Macfarlane

Christine Macfarlane

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply