Small and independent craft beer brewers grew eight percent in 2016 and now account for 99 percent of the 5,005 breweries in the country, according to the Brewers Association, a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the segment. Meanwhile, there are now 1.2 million homebrewers in the US.
That’s good news in a lot of ways for White Labs, a company full of “die-hard science and beer geeks,” according to Kathryn Small, Special Project Manager, for the San Diego-based company. Not only are the employees big craft beer fans, they also sell roughly 200 different strains of liquid yeast, preferred by the craft beer and homebrew market for its superior taste. The growth in the industry has led to growth in demand and White Labs is taking its products around the globe.
Founded 22 years ago by a Ph.D. candidate who created a liquid yeast for his friends that homebrewed their own beer, White Labs took off as word got out liquid yeast tasted better and the market expanded rapidly. It now operates tasting rooms to show off the capabilities of its liquid yeast at its headquarters in San Diego and sales office in Boulder, Colo., with a distribution center in Hong Kong, a separate lab in Davis, Calif. and European headquarters in Copenhagen. Just recently, it opened an Eastern U.S. headquarters in Ashville, N.C. with production facilities, tasting room and a boutique restaurant.
Yet, despite all the success, something was still capping the company’s growth. Its back-end financial and inventory management software. White Labs was running Goldmine for CRM, BusinessWorks for accounting and homegrown systems for manufacturing operations and ecommerce, limiting visibility into the organization and creating many inefficient processes. In fact, the Excel-based processes used to forecast production of the approximately 200 yeast strains were so cumbersome it made it difficult to keep someone in that role.
After evaluating Salesforce.com and InfusionSoft for CRM, White Labs elected to turn to NetSuite OneWorld instead, choosing a single platform for financial, customer and inventory data that could scale with the business. Better yet, NetSuite OneWorld can manage multi-currency transactions for the Hong Kong dollar, Euro and Danish Kroner, plus support for more than 190 others as White Labs expands.
One immediate benefit was the streamlined reporting. Reports that once relied on assembling data from three different systems, became far easier.
“My experience with past CRM systems is the reporting tools are hard to use and time consuming,” Small said. “With NetSuite I get the report I need every day. The thought process is golden. It’s awesome to have that.”
That transparency into the business allowed White Labs to take a long look at its existing processes and find efficiencies.
For example, there are 90 400-liter containers of yeast growing in the “clean room.” With the NetSuite advanced manufacturing module, the company built a forecasting tool to identify when the different yeast strains should be taken into production along with timelines. Additionally, mobile inventory management from NetSuite partner RF-SMART has been integrated with financial and production data streamlines manufacturing and planning, identifying bin locations.
In fact, White Labs has changed the way it propagates and delivers yeast to “PurePitch® packaging,” to ensure the yeast remains pure.
“With PurePitch®, the yeast are packaged inside the same container it’s grown in.” Small said.
For more on how NetSuite is helping food and beverage manufacturers, download the whitepaper.