Homestead Creamery and TRAVERSE: Skimming the Cream without Skimping on Features
Homestead Creamery is a locally-owned dairy processing plant in Burnt Chimney, Virginia. Though it opened for business in 2001, it was the brainchild of two local farmers whose third- and fourth-generation farms have endured on sustainability efforts and local support for decades. Through Homestead Creamery, those values and practices have led to an utterly unique business model that has created a legion of fans and loyal customers.
The reason for their success? People can’t get enough of Homestead Creamery’s glass-bottled milk, specialty ice creams, flavored whole milk (including orange), and fresh butter sold by the wheel. Their milk is minimally pasteurized to provide both safe milk and the freshest possible flavor, and their products can be purchased through local stores or through their dairy delivery service. (That’s right… they have milkmen that serve over 1,000 customers!) Their milk is bottled in glass for the best taste, and every one of their products helps bring back a bygone age of excellent service, total sustainability, and superior quality.
Homestead outgrows their system, and searches for a fresh solution
Their growing popularity came with one drawback; they quickly outgrew their entry-level accounting software. The system was not able to handle their large database of transactions and customers. “When we entered invoices,” said accounting manager Hiedi Smith, “each one would take ten minutes to key in and save. And then the system finally crashed, and we could never get a clean balance sheet from it. Our previous software was not reliable at all.”
Homestead Creamery began searching for a more robust accounting system. “We got in touch with Tom Buchanan from Stateside Data,” said Smith. Stateside recommended TRAVERSE from Open Systems, which Smith and her co-workers learned about through an online demo. Kathy Walsh, who now works for Open Systems, toured the plant and prepared them for the transition. (She also discovered that her favorite Homestead Creamery ice cream flavor is Cherry-Vanilla.)
On January 1, 2012, Homestead went live with their new TRAVERSE installation, and the positive changes were immediate.
Along with providing a stable accounting platform that can support limitless growth, Homestead Creamery immediately benefitted from TRAVERSE’s expanded reporting capabilities. “The biggest thing for us is all the reporting,” said Smith.
One of the features they take advantage of is the Interactive Views tool, which allows the user to pull up real-time data, change lookup options as needed, and then print, save, or send the information in a variety of formats.
Non-homogenized accounting by department
TRAVERSE also allowed Homestead Creamery to easily keep track of different divisions and interests within the company, and to easily provide separate reporting for each. “We have four different divisions within Homestead Creamery and being able to pull separate profit and loss statements and other reports are very useful,” said Smith.
Of course, there’s yet another reassuring advantage to using TRAVERSE. “We know our financials are now correct!” said Smith.
Imports to the rescue
With bigger clients featuring their products, Homestead Creamery needed a better way to deal with large orders. With TRAVERSE, that process is reduced to a few clicks. “We convert those EDI orders into an Excel spreadsheet and then sort by each store, and we give that to our guys to pick those products,” said Smith. “Then we import it into TRAVERSE. We don’t have to key in each invoice like we did with our old software. That’s a big piece of it.”
Growing with better inventory and audit-preparedness
Homestead Creamery already tracks lots to make sure ingredients and products are fresh, and will be expanding their use of TRAVERSE to make audit preparedness even easier. “TRAVERSE collects much more information that we need,” said Smith. Their future plans include integrating inventory into TRAVERSE to make tracking and mock-audits easy and fast.
Expansion is in the mix
With their tradition of sustainable, wholesome products leading to huge local success, Homestead Creamery had a firm eye on future growth. “When I started with Homestead in 2007, we had about 30 employees,” said Smith. “Right now we have about 65 full-time and part-time employees.
“We are also in the process of expanding,” said Smith. “We’re planning to put a new shell over our existing plant. Then once we get the shell up we’ll go in and renovate all of the existing buildings to make things bigger. We’re looking at doubling our production size.”
With TRAVERSE in place, Homestead is ready to grow without worrying whether their business and accounting software will grow with them. For Homestead Creamery, the future is bright… and very, very delicious.