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Posted: 6/27/2012
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The Faribault Woolen Mills Historic Manufacturer Revitalizes Operations with Cloud-Based Infrastructure


Business Need

The Faribault Woolen Mill, established in 1865, is a business rooted in American history. The family-run company—the oldest manufacturer in Minnesota—has been a constant presence from the Western expansion, through the industrial revolution, the Great Depression, and two world wars. But it was the most recent economic downturn that posed the greatest threat to this proud tradition.

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* What brings people to us is our quality product and service. To that end, our Microsoft infrastructure helps us ensure we’re able to continually deliver quality and meet our customer expectations. *

Paul Mooty
CFO
Faribault Woolen Mill

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Forced to close the doors in 2009, the Faribault Woolen Mill recently revived its operations, modernizing the systems and infrastructure that support the traditional textile manufacturing processes. Once a horse-powered operation, the company now employs e-commerce and a cloud-based infrastructure, running on Microsoft Dynamics GP.

“Times have changed considerably for the company, and now software is vitally important to our success,” says CFO Paul Mooty. “To operative effectively we need to see our actual production and perform measurements so we can make the right managerial decisions moving forward. That requires both a sophisticated accounting system and effective tools for production management.”

Even as they acknowledged the need to modernize their technology and systems, business leaders at the mill were acutely aware of the need to control costs. The mandate to minimize acquisition, support, and on-going maintenance expenses led them to evaluate cloud-based solutions. Says Mooty, “When we looked at using our own resources versus outside resources to support a new environment, it became clear that a cloud-based infrastructure was the most viable option for a company that was essentially running in start-up mode.”

Solution

For its cloud-based business infrastructure, leadership at the Faribault Woolen Mill chose Microsoft technology, hosted by Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, OTT, Inc. Faribault’s hosted infrastructure includes Microsoft Dynamics GP for business management and production and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage and track sales and leads.

“The ability to have an ERP solution based in the cloud was critical for us, as it allowed us to deploy the software very quickly,” says Mooty. “And we were confident knowing that it was a proven product from Microsoft.”

On the manufacturing side, Faribault currently uses Microsoft Dynamics GP to manage inventory and bill of materials, with plans to bring additional functionality online in the future. The solution is also used for financial management functions, such as accounts payable and accounts receivable. In addition to providing core accounting and production capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics GP also processes orders from the Faribault Woolen Mills online store. Looking ahead, the company plans to automate sales order fulfillment through integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and to setup processes and integrations with its trading partners.

The ability to share information among production and financial functions, and eventually sales and marketing, when the Microsoft Dynamics CRM capabilities come online, has increased the velocity of the business. “The software will eventually reduce any friction in our business process,” explains Carmen Dorr, Controller for Faribault Woolen Mills. “Once it's fully implemented, it will make our processes much finer and more efficient and bring information to everyone at the same level and pace, so we can maintain a streamlined manufacturing operation.”

The end-to-end system will also play a critical role in providing the insight the company’s business analysts need to set and respond to trends in the market. Says Dorr, “One of the major benefits of
Microsoft Dynamics GP is that it works with other Microsoft products like Excel and Word, which enables us to quickly produce reports from our data in the system.”

Benefits

The revitalized Faribault Woolen Mill is proud to be continuing its heritage of traditional textile manufacturing on a platform supported by Microsoft technology. Says Mooty, “What brings people to us is our quality product and service. To that end our Microsoft infrastructure helps us ensure we’re able to continually deliver quality and meet our customer expectations. And, as our business has re-launched, the technology has helped us to ensure we have done everything right from the beginning.”

Minimize IT Support and Requirements

By deploying a hosted, cloud-based infrastructure for ERP and financial management, Faribault Woolen Mill minimizes the need to maintain in-house IT management and administration. Says Dorr, “One of the main benefits of the cloud is that we're able to have our software outsourced, hosted, upgraded, and maintained. This is a huge cost benefit to the company. We don’t have to purchase the software or the hardware or hire and train the resources to run it. All we need is an internet connection all our IT needs can be met.”

Drive Growth

The new systems—particularly the newly deployed ecommerce capabilities—have extended the company’s reach and driven an explosion in sales. “In the last 11 weeks of 2011, we sold product in all 50 states,” says Mooty. "Even though we’re a small Midwestern company, our second highest demand state right now is California. That shows you the power that technology can provide.”

The spike in sales supports the growth of the manufacturing operation, enabling the company to add jobs and participate in the recovery of the local economy. Says Mooty, “We grew from 38 to 50 employees in 2011, and will double that to 100 in 2012. And Microsoft Dynamics will be there to support us.”

Deliver Quality

After the new systems are fully deployed, the company expects Microsoft Dynamics GP along with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help it achieve a high level of customer excellence. Says Mooty, “Microsoft technology will help us understand our business, understand our cost structures, track our inventory and costs , and, in the long run, benefit us, the company, the shareholders, and the customer, because we're going be able to deliver a quality product at the best possible price.”

Adds Dorr, “Microsoft technology is helping us ensure that we have the business practices and procedures in place to make the best business decisions for generations to come.”

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 130 employees

Organization Profile

Faribault Woolen Mills is a manufacturer of wool-based products such as blankets. The company is based in Faribault, Minnesota and currently has 80 employees.


Software and Services
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • SharePoint Online

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods

Country/Region
United States

Business Need
  • Business Productivity
  • Business Intelligence and Reporting

IT Issue
  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • CRM

Languages
English

Partner(s)
OTT, Inc.

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