kearney planters success story

Kearney Planters Cultivates Efficiency, Employee Satisfaction and an Improved Bottom Line with Spire

Overview

About 90 minutes outside Detroit, MI, just over the Canadian border in the small town of Thamesville, Ontario, sits Kearney Planters, a company that custom builds planters and corn heads for both the large and small farmer. Founded in 1979 after Barry Kearney developed a unique piece of farm equipment, Kearney Planters was eventually incorporated in 1989 and began serving a growing number of customers. Now employing 23 full-time staff and offering a wide variety of parts, service and education in all aspects of agriculture, Kearney Planters is dedicated to providing solutions to their customers with excellence.

Challenge

Like many companies with an almost 40-year track record, Kearney Planters has grown from a single innovation to a valuable resource for a variety of customers.  As such, the company has taken on more production capacity and more staff to meet growing customer demand. Kearney discovered the system it used to help manage inventory, accounting and other business processes was dated and inadequate for today’s modern demands. In addition, employees using the old software were regularly frustrated due to the slowness of the system and the difficulty in obtaining assistance from their support resource.

“The software we had was a bit behind the times,” said Colleen Kearney-Janssens, Chief Executive Officer of Kearney Planters. “The older system was purchased from someone in London (Ontario) who was always difficult to get ahold of, so I began searching for other resources to help us with our system.”

The existing software Kearney Planters had was dated and didn’t provide the comprehensive tools the company now needed. Production often took longer than it should have. What should have taken weeks to produce took months because of the system’s inefficiency and the poor customer support. Furthermore, the cost of running the previous system did not always align with the issues that were supposed to be resolved. To Kearney-Janssens and the rest of the Kearney Planters team, the older system was unhelpful and frustrating.

Having had enough, Kearney-Janssens reached out to their company’s IT provider, who then suggested a consultant that was familiar with the system they were using. Shelley Sanderson, co-founder and principal partner with Edge IMS, a business management consulting firm and Authorized Spire Partner, immediately began to troubleshoot issues over the phone. In addition, Sanderson conducted a workshop for staff at Kearney Planters. While Sanderson helped address some of the issues with the older system, she and Kearney-Janssens realized they were still facing a large number of roadblocks. That’s when the decision was made to upgrade to Spire.

Solution

Once Spire was installed and staff began walking through the updated interface, the difference was significant. “The system is amazing,” said Kearney-Janssens. “Once a customer order is placed, we have to manage multiple phases and incorporate the parts that go into production. We needed a system that could help us put everything together efficiently and enable us to effectively build and deliver the order. Spire has helped us do just that.”

Results

With Spire, Kearney-Janssens and the staff quickly noticed the ease of use as well as the proactive support provided by Edge IMS. It’s been described as a dream team by the staff, blending the system capability with the knowledge and support needed to smoothly run a manufacturing operation. Now, staff are excited about data entry and the free flow of information between departments with the simple push of a button. “It’s really a game-changer for us,” acknowledged Kearney-Janssens. “It’s brought us out of the dark ages — and all the frustrations that go with that — into an environment featuring a very well-oiled communication machine with significantly fewer chances of error at the end of the customer build.

Spire easily met the criteria Kearney Planters had at the outset, including effective inventory management, transparency within each of the phases of production and an interface that is easy to understand and gives the company an added speed advantage.

One area of concern that was quickly resolved was the question of how older staff might feel about using a completely new system. According to Kearney-Janssens, the process of switching to Spire and bringing employees up to speed was a smooth and user-friendly experience.

If there were any questions that came up about using the system once installed, all it took was a simple conference call or an email outlining the issue. Edge IMS always had a quick and thorough response, keeping everyone at Kearney Planters on track. In fact, the process was so smooth, Kearney-Janssens admits there were never any real roadblocks. Communication between Edge IMS and Kearney Planters was efficient and straightforward and things like software updates were done very easily.

“My team put absolute faith in the communication system that was established,” said Kearney-Janssens. “The process of sending an email out and letting Edge IMS reply by either scheduling a conference call or via email to explain what has been modified and why it’s the better way to do this, has been exactly what we needed.”

The Kearney Planters team can now more accurately manage inventory, work orders, accounting, payroll, scheduling and more. All reports are accurate and compliant with banks, accountants and any other people the company must engage in order to keep the business running successfully.

Looking Ahead

Kearney-Janssens and the entire Kearney Planters team have been so happy with Spire that they have recommended it to other companies. In fact, Kearney-Janssens has provided her contact details to several businesses, encouraging them to reach out if they had any apprehension about moving forward with Spire.

“It’s not difficult to espouse the benefits of Spire,” concluded Kearney-Janssens. “We’ve gone through the process and it was so easy because we now have all these options available to us.  This transition to Spire has made us more efficient, more productive and happier. Because of Spire, we’re running our business much better and putting more money in our pocket at the end of the day.”