Accountant Tested, Engineer Approved: Northwestern Tools Optimizes Data and Process Flow with TRAVERSE
Northwestern Tools, Inc. of Dayton, Ohio manufactures and sells a wide variety of American-made products for work-holding and fastening applications. These products include spring and ball plungers, stainless steel components, clamps, hoist rings, and much more. Founded in 1942 by Gene Thomeczek, Northwestern Tools has remained a family business being managed for 45 years by his son, Jim and is now presided over by Jim’s son, President Brian Thomeczek.
For the last seventy years, Northwestern Tools has grown from an initial offering of just 4 products, to over 2,000 domestic, high quality components to service their customers. Since 1995, when they purchased Open Systems Accounting Software (OSAS), and their move to TRAVERSE in 2006, they have been relying upon Open Systems software and their software specialists Computer Creations for their business and accounting needs. Over the years, Northwestern Tools had several modifications done to meet their unique needs.
A team of experts delivers the goods
Wanting the latest technology, Northwestern Tools looked at the newest version of TRAVERSE that uses .NET technology. Not only did it provide them the technology they wanted, but it also eliminated the need for customization they had been using in an older version of the product.
“When we switched to the new version of TRAVERSE,” says Brian Thomeczek, “we eliminated all of our prior customizations.” Instead, the stock report formatting capabilities and the TRAVERSE Design Studio took care of all of Northwestern Tools' custom needs. “The Design Studio allows quick changes to forms that, in the past, took a lot of heavier lifting,” says Thomeczek.
To supplement their technological know-how with industry expertise, Computer Creations joined with Gary Claggett of Smart Manufacturing Solutions in implementing the latest version of TRAVERSE for Northwestern Tools.
Streamlining opportunities with the upgrade
Along with upgrading their technology, Northwestern Tools took the opportunity to make other changes in their processes and workflows, such as switching to standard costing. “It just gave us an opportunity to make some changes we’d been meaning to make for a while,” says Thomeczek.
Northwestern Tools was also able to simplify their quoting capabilities using TRAVERSE’s quote conversion capabilities and task panes. “We can quote in the system and convert them to sales orders, making things a lot easier. When you’re on the phone with a customer, you can create a quote and it will display the inventory quantity and pricing instead of requiring the use of multiple screens,” says Thomeczek. “It’s a lot more user friendly.”
Reports deliver formatting options and easy sharing
Northwestern Tools also made quick use of interactive views, TRAVERSE’s new take on the classic data inquiry. “I’m a data guy,” says Thomeczek, an Engineer by degree. “I like to be able to see the data and manipulate it into something meaningful.” Interactive views allow him to tailor information, columns, and sorting on-screen quickly without having to export the information to a spreadsheet program. “It’s very quick to change these interactive views to find the information you need.”
“I love the features in interactive views, especially when saving the view to be shared or recalled in the future,” says Thomeczek. “If some of us want to look at the same report, we can create a stock view, save it, and then each person in the company can take a look at the same report,”
When the time comes to export the data to another program like Excel, TRAVERSE does so without packing in unnecessary information that must be sorted out later. What you see in the View is what you get when you export. “The data exports just the way it was shown,” says Thomeczek. “Because the data is already set up as a table in the Interactive View, the export comes out identical to that.”
Quick adoption + information sharing = company-wide win
Northwestern Tools brought itself up to speed quickly with training and by playing with TRAVERSE’s intuitive design. “Though TRAVERSE looked different and had a different feel, most people got up to speed really quickly,” says Thomeczek. “We didn’t want to shut down everything to get everyone trained, so we trained our core group and then deployed it easily from there.”
Gary Claggett of Smart Manufacturing Solutions also provided them with expert help with manufacturing issues, and how they could meet their industry-specific challenges with the new technology. “Gary is very patient, and good at helping people understand the system and obtain the end results they require,” says Thomeczek.
As a result of the implementation, each department gets what they need. Not only that, but they have found that the faster data tracking has led to easier decision-making. “I may look at data for overall profit margins,” says Thomeczek. “Sales may be looking at which product sales are increasing year over year and production needs to know how many parts they’re going through.”
With a centralized and responsive system, Northwestern Tools also has faster access to reports they could only view periodically due to their complexity. “In the past, we never had a quick way to answer the questions: ‘What products are the most profitable? What are customer sales trends?’” says Thomeczek. “We can pull that information very quickly now.”
Building on a solid foundation
Northwestern Tools has spent over seventy years refining their focus and exceeding their customers’ expectations. Now, with the help of TRAVERSE from Open Systems, and the expert help of Computer Creations and Smart Manufacturing Solutions, Northwestern Tools is poised to face the future with a better grasp of their manufacturing processes and their critical customer data.