Hello everyone, this is Jason Bittner from Triple Helix Corporation and welcome to our Helix Insider podcast. I have a very special podcast for you guys today. I’m joined in studio with one of our clients from Siftex Corporation. They’re based out of South Windsor, Connecticut. One of the things Triple Helix does is we help companies that are looking for a new ERP system go through the process of an ERP selection, which for Companies that do not have expertise in this or are not sure really what they’re looking for – it can actually be quite a daunting process.
So we were introduced to Siftex through our relationship with CONNSTEP, which is Connecticut’s state MEP, manufacturing extension partnership partner. And they recommended us to Siftex so we could help them.
Welcome to the podcast, Katty. How are you?
Very good. Thank you for having me, Jason. It’s a pleasure to be here and participate on this podcast today.
So talk to us a little bit about Siftex in general. What is your role with the organization and what do you guys do?
Katty Garcia: So Siftex Equipment Company has been in business for 35 years. And we basically do flexible connectors for all kinds of industries, like food industry, construction, pharmaceuticals, and many, many more.
Siftex is a company that is part manufacturer, part reseller, and part of our own supply chain management for products. And I also, I always like to see Siftex as a consulting company that happens to sell products. That means that a customer comes with a need and they have different applications, uh, temperature, permeability, uh, if it is food grade or not.
We help them locate a product that is going to work with the application. I’m the General Manager of Siftex. I’ve been with the company for five years. I started as a Sewing Operations Manager. Then I got promoted to Sewing and Welding Operations Manager. And at the end of 2022, I was very lucky and honored to be promoted as a General Manager. That’s my function nine months now.
And we are in the middle of restructuring the company and making a better Siftex. Part of that is working with our ERP software.
Mm, very good. Now, welcome to the program. Thank you for being here.
Now, I know you were having some significant data challenges before you decided to go look for an ERP. What were some of those challenges that prompted you to go look for an ERP solution?
As a small company, we are a small company… We start growing and we have a very simple ERP software and that ERP software, maybe QuickBooks, maybe other simple ones… They get isolated and dated for the needs of a company.
So, we decided that this is the time for us to work with a software solution that can move with us for the next 10 to 15 years.
Got it. Yeah, so in our work, you know, Triple Helix, you know, many of our customers are manufacturers like yourself, and we actually help consult and find a new ERP based on our knowledge of the industry. But the actual process itself is very deliberate. We like to sit with various folks at the company and representing the departments or the functions and the roles. And what we do is we match up what they need to what a new ERP solution would provide them. Now you walked through that process with us, as well as your team. Tell me what you were hoping to get out of the assessment as we walked through that process with you, what were the pain points you were trying to eliminate with a better solution?
Yeah. As you said, choosing an ERP software is very daunting, it’s a very challenging process. And even if you were an IT expert or very knowledgeable on IT, I wouldn’t recommend anyone go through the process of choosing these software solutions by themselves.
And part of the objectives I have is, as I said, I’m restructuring the company. Part of my objective is to find the best software possible for the company within our budget, and that will have all the items or requirements that my company needs now, but also is going to need in the next 10 years. And I wanted to do this with 100% certainty that I’m choosing the right software. And… I have many, many projects for my company to work on and choosing the ERP software is really highly demanding. I didn’t have the time to go through this, neither was that my expertise. So, my goal was to get the right ERP software at the right budget within the right time without me personally, nor my team, spending all the time that it will take to do it ourselves.
Good point. And, you know, to that point, like when we do the research for finding the right ERP, we sit with the various departments and stakeholders and find out what they need. And then when we take those needs, we actually translate that into a requirements matrix. So, this matrix is a list of all the things it needs to do and also categorized with, you know, how important it is in a level one, two or three format. And so, you walked through that process with us. How did you feel about the actual process as far as just talking about the research and how thorough that process was? Tell us a little bit about how you felt that went.
That process was extremely enlightening to me, even though because we as general managers, we specialize in kind of nothing, but we touch everything. So, for me, I was a new General Manager.
First, it helped me a lot in understanding needs from departments that I didn’t know that much about. So that was good. The process was very thorough, extremely thorough. And one thing that I found extremely interesting is that you and your team asked questions to us and make us see the needs that we had that we didn’t even know we had. That was a very interesting thing that happened. The thoroughness of asking the questions of making sure that every point has been touched. That nothing was left out. And the thoroughness of that process was fantastic. And at the same time, I found that it was extremely quick, in my opinion, because it will go one department to one department, we did two per week. Yeah. It was not that long, about two hours with each Head of Department. But the thoroughness and the knowledge that you show on asking those questions, made me feel very comfortable and very confident that all our needs are being evaluated and put on that matrix and subsequently will be taken care of. And then when I saw that matrix, it was very revealing in terms of how demanding our company was on the different processes we were doing. So that helped me really also to see a clear view of all the processes of the company. So, it was very helpful in that sense too.
Yeah, no, good to hear we were thorough. It’s part of what we’re trying to achieve. Fantastic. Now we have this matrix and what our typical process is, is that once we know what the requirements are, we go to a field of ERP vendors that we’ve down selected from.
Typical processes, we have like over 100 ERP systems before we even meet with you, we know your type of industry, we know the type of manufacturing you do.
So, we’re down selecting to about 20. But by the time the research is done and the matrix is made, we’ve actually whittled away a lot of them. So, we’re looking at a field of about eight to 10 ERPs. Now from there, we go to the vendors and we have them assess the solutions that they offer.
Some are quite obviously not a fit, could be on price, could be on a function where we call it number one tier one requirement. It’s a core requirement. So, if you don’t have that met, you can’t buy the ERP. So, we whittle them out. By the time we’re done, we’re bringing it down to a top one, two, three recommendation – at which point we bring it back to you and say, hey, these are the top three that we’re recommending. And then you can go talk to them. And we, in this particular example, had assisted you with the follow-up vendor demos and helping facilitate those conversations.
So, you get an accurate understanding from them that you are indeed getting what you need. Tell me how that went for you. Like the act of us bringing the vendors in, coordinating the appointments and then how we were able to help guide you through those meetings as you did your own assessment of the final choice.
Yeah. For me, it’s very important to trust. I feel working with you, your team, Triple Helix, I had a partner. I have a person and I have a team behind the company needs.
That was a neutral person, third party, that is looking for specific things that are on a matrix and is making 100% sure those needs are met. So that trust for me is the most important thing in any relationship, business relationship I have with any vendor.
So, I felt first that this was a partnership and that worked very well. Then when we were looking into the three software solutions, part of that partnership, bringing the trust that you knew what our budget was and you know what we were looking for.
So, the three of them fulfill everything we wanted that you have in your matrix or even more. So that was very good to me because that gave me that confidence that we will be good. And then then it’s just a matter of meeting with these vendors, do the demos and get the feeling of the software. That was a very nice process.
I really appreciate that you guys set up the meetings, set up the demos. Everything was ready for us. So, when me and my team came into every meeting, we’re not wasting our time. Demos are a long time, in between three, four, or even more hours, depending on how thorough they want to be. It’s a very lengthy process. So, the fact that we were prepared that you guys talked to the vendor, have everything set up for this, and my team just have to show up, that is something very good for us.
But most importantly to know that these 3 software solutions meet all of our expectations. Coordination was easy to do. The fact that you guys asked for my calendar, asked for my team calendar, and you guys already made sure, okay, this is a time that accommodate the whole team.
That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it does add up into all the efficiency and easiness of the process for myself, for the company, for the whole team.
I’m glad we were able to do that for you. Yes. Now, I’m really happy to hear that you have actually made the final choice for your decision out of the top three, and you’re actually now moving under contract to release hopefully by the beginning of Q1 of 2024. Talk to me about what you’re hoping for and your excitement for the new ERP. What are you hoping it will do for you right out of the cave?
For this software, I’m excited in general because as I said at the beginning, our software is very dated. So, I already made numbers. I’m a numbers girl, so I already wrote my numbers.
I estimated that the efficiency of this software, the efficiency is going to bring, I’m going to be saving about $100,000 per year on salary of people that I don’t have to hire. So, it makes me feel confident that with the people I have, I have enough growth for the next year, year and a half without hiring anyone, because every process is going to be more efficient.
Right now, we have a lot of problems with our existing software. It crashes, it’s slow. So, see my people will be happier that they’re going to have the information when they’re talking to a customer.
My customer service team and sales team have the information in their faces. That is extremely valuable. I spend a lot of time on the finance reports, looking at our numbers. So, also the software is going to be extremely powerful.
I’m going to be able to look at these numbers and not spend that much time. I’m going to be able to have all those numbers at my fingertips, look at them and make better decisions for the company. So, I can see all the efficiency that we’re going to attain the first semester of the year after implementation, I think it’s going to be fantastic. But, also preparation for taxes is going to help me working with our accountant for getting the taxes ready. It’s going to help us also with connecting our shipping station to FedEx, UPS, DHL, connecting the banks. I didn’t know that would happen. Yeah. And that is a plus for us. So, I’m surprised that this software is going to be able to connect our three different banks and make it easier for our finance manager. And also, we are preparing ourselves for growth. So, the fact that this software is going to help us with the manufacturing department, with the scanners, I can see it happening, the scanners, the barcodes. They are all the stickers, printers where we can have the information just pop, scan it and so I can see it. And the module for the CRM items, very exciting, because I’m working with a marketing company. And we’re gonna be able to put together our marketing plans, our marketing campaigns with the CRM, follow up better on customers, see results. So, I’m very excited in general, and my team is extremely happy with the software, with the decision we’re making. And I think it’s gonna reflect on our numbers. And I’m very excited also on seeing the efficiency, not only on people, but seeing the numbers, the result for the company. So, a lot of things to be excited about.
No, absolutely. It seems like this is going to be very transformative for you.
Yes, absolutely. And the team is so ready. The team is asking for it. And even though it’s a six-to-eight month period of implementation, everybody’s so excited to start working on it, and be ready for the first quarter.
So it’s good to be able to give these to your employees, better tools to do a better job. Absolutely, and we’re so very excited for you for that. You know, I just want to comment on just the overall process that we walked through with you. And I mean, we were very impressed with your team, especially yourself with, you know, the professionalism and you know, how well the company’s running despite having such a poor software that is just kind of holding you back. And what was really delightful during this process was being able to walk through all the departments and all the different people and show them what a modern ERP implementation looks like and give them the view of the future. Because I think to your earlier point, you don’t know what you don’t know. And we can share like, here’s what you should expect your ERP to do for you. And then seeing how that would really transform the company is something completely different. And even though it’s not our software and we do custom software development, as you know, there’s no better feeling than to have a customer find the fit that they’re looking for. I’m expecting good things for you guys. So, congrats on that. Now, I do want to mention that the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development administers grant programs for manufacturers. They actually do it through the CCAT office, but it is the DECD providing the funding. And through DECD, who’s administering this, there’s a number of manufacturing grants out there of which you’re taking advantage of one of them through this. That’s called the manufacturing voucher program. Just talk a little bit to our listeners about how much that advantage is giving you because you’re literally getting one third of the software covered by this grant.
Yes, absolutely. So, one of the things that we were looking for, of course, when you are doing this kind of investment, is there are many grants or many things around that can help you out. That grant, we are starting the process with our finance manager to apply for it.
We’re just waiting on one of the last on the board and we’re going to start applying. First of all, one thing that impresses me is this is a state funded grant. The process is they are behind like only two days.
I went to the website and they say we’re processing only like two or three days behind. So, approval is really quick. The application process is extremely easy. My finance manager doesn’t have any issues. We have used it before for acquiring machines. We used it before also for training for our employees.
And now we’re gonna use it for the ERP software. With the ERP software, one of the things I want to do is move my company more into the future. And for that, we’re gonna have to buy equipment. We’re gonna have to buy scanners, hand-helds, tablets. different new laptops. And that’s part of what you want to bring in. You don’t want a new ERP software and have obsolete machines that don’t run as well. So, this grant is gonna allow the company to invest a little money on those improvements.
So that means a lot because our profitability also is gonna be very well impacted by saving the money. And that helps our manufacturing company, small companies like ours… That’s a great help. Every dollar counts with a small company. Every time you save $100, it’s $100 you can now use to buy food for your employees to motivate them. You can start saving money for buying a new laptop. Money is money.
So, all you can save and help your company out is just going to… is going to be seen on the numbers and the results that you provide.
Right. And I am so very impressed with, with this state who has so many grant programs available helping manufacturers like yourself.
Yes, absolutely. I was impressed and surprised myself. There’s so many things that people don’t take advantage of and are thinking, I want to buy new equipment. I want to buy this new ERP software. I don’t have enough funds to do this, but really the state is willing to help you. You just have to apply. You just have to apply. So, and it’s easy, easy. I recommend to any manufacturer, small owner to use these services because they are just going to help you progress and be better at your company.
Absolutely. Yes. So, I’m just very pleased that we got the opportunity to work together and you know, that is the extent of our time for today on this podcast, but I wanted to thank you, Katty, for graciously. agreeing to come on our show and talk to our listeners about how the process went. Also, just for anyone listening who may be interested in this, you can reach out to Triple Helix at www.3xcorp.com. That’s www.3xcorp.com or 860-490-3488 is how you can contact us. And we’d be delighted to sit with you and talk to you about helping you select an ERP solution if you are looking for something like that. Please like and subscribe in the comments below and I want to say until next time. Thank you. And thank you to my special guest.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Jason for having me.