James Austin Company
Customer Snapshot: Overview
1st Bleach manufacturer to switch from glass to safer plastic bottles
The James Austin Company has helped homemakers keep their families cleaner and safer with products like detergents and household bleach since 1889. Recently, an aging ERP system wasn’t providing the support this now-modern business needed. With an SAP® Business All-in-One solution, Austin’s is now better able to ensure that store shelves are always stocked with the cleaning products that consumers trust.
James Austin Company
Number of Employees
Implementation Partner URL
Mars, Pennsylvania, USA
Line of Business
Finance, Sourcing and Procurement, Supply Chain
SAP Business All-in-One
Customer Snapshot: History
Austin’s vision is to sell household cleaning products at the best price possible to their customers. It’s something this Pennsylvania-based family business has been doing for more than a hundred years.
Customer Snapshot: Business Model
A Family’s Dedication
Customer Snapshot: Success Strategy
''Good. Clean. Done.''
As a family-owned business, James Austin has a pretty down-home philosophy when it comes to success: “produce quality products for customers and they will keep coming back.”
However, Austin’s also believes in state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and innovative business practices. Austin’s revolutionized the industry when they were the first bleach manufacturer to discard bulky glass bottles and replace them with safer, more lightweight, plastic containers.
The company has also pioneered the four-day work week for their employees—inspiring great loyalty and pride in their workforce. With about 245 employees, Austin’s is one modest-sized company that has big aspirations.
Austin’s had an ERP system in the past to help it with critical business processes such as finance, procurement, and supply chain management. But this aging and heavily customized system provided limited visibility and still required many manual operations.
For example, they have four widespread manufacturing plants in Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and the home office in Pennsylvania. The outlying plants had to keep one-off records to track inventory levels, and most purchase orders were done manually. Plus, the company’s bills of materials (BOMs) for individual products were maintained only at the corporate headquarters. This made it difficult for the each facility to manage site-specific specifications for raw materials or product formulas.
Many of our clients deal with tier-one retailers, and when they can walk into a meeting and say, ‘We run SAP,’ it’s a game changer for them.–Michael Pearson, president, CONTAX Inc.
Enter SAP: The SAP Experience
One Weekend Changeover
With CONTAX’s help, the rollout included ERP software for business areas like finance and inventory, as well as customer relationship management, supplier relationship management, and business intelligence tools. The successful implementation benefited from a high-level project plan and a comprehensive blue-printing phase that determined the specific requirements.
Austin’s leadership also split the various process areas among the company’s super users to assist with any questions that might come from any of the manufacturing facilities. They used CONTAX’s training material to develop tips sheets and step-by step guidance to help the less technically savvy employees.
When the company was ready to go live, the project team – which consisted of both James Austin and CONTAX personnel – downloaded information from the old system over a weekend. Come Monday morning, Austin’s new SAP Business All-in-One system was ready for business.
A smaller company like ours does not have the personnel to dedicate to training. So the tips developed from CONTAX’s manual were very useful.–Michael Dunkerley, Project Lead/Assistant Controller, James Austin Company
Gone are the days at Austin’s of printing a report just once or twice a day to check on critical operations. Now real-time information is just a few mouse clicks away, and managers can monitor multiple system sessions to gain instant visibility into the business.
Better Business: Benefits
One of the biggest benefits for Austin’s is the ability to maintain multiple BOMs for a single product type. This lets the various manufacturing sites identify and track different specifications in the raw materials used for site-specific packaging or formulas.
Each of the four manufacturing plants can also track their own inventory with greater accuracy. In addition, a new purchase reorder report gives Austin’s managers a heads-up before raw material stocks are depleted. If last minute shortages should occur, visibility into material at the other locations facilitates plant-to-plant transfers to help ensure that an order gets filled in a timely manner.
For the first time, plant managers can also identify what products are missing from open orders. This lets service representatives coordinate quickly with customers on determining shipment options. The customer service department also now has plenty of room for comprehensive customer records.
Better Business: Run Simple
The James Austin Company is now in their 4th-generation of family ownership. Today, the company has real-time visibility and a robust, stable ERP platform on which they can continue to grow for years to come.
The Next Generation
We’d like to design management reports that provide even deeper visibility into the company’s wellbeing.–Michael Dunkerley, Project Lead/Assistant Controller, James Austin Company