Over a 10-year relationship, Sea to Table and NetSuite have both seen name changes and rapid growth and demonstrated that the right cloud ERP system can not only help to manage a business, but to help transform it.
When Tobago Wild first founded its business by working with local fishermen on the island of Tobago, buying their fish to sell to chefs all across the United States, the company launched its business on top of the Oracle Small Business Suite from NetLedger. That cloud-based ERP software company became NetSuite, counting more than 20,000 companies and subsidiaries as customers, and Tobago Wild evolved into Sea to Table, which now buys fish at 30 different docks around the world supplying more than 1,000 restaurants.
While some software vendors are still struggling to bring a productive cloud ERP solution to market, people like Sea to Table’s founder Michael Dimin and other long-standing NetSuite customers like Fisher-Unitech saw the potential of the cloud a decade ago and they continue to reap the rewards.
“I realized that the cloud was the right way to approach the problem,” Dimin said. “I was pretty much waiting for someone to build out that model. We understood what relational databases could do for a long time. The concept of it being cloud based was a powerful idea that was waiting to happen.”
Today Sea to Table still buys fish directly from fishermen at the docks based on orders it receives from customers across the United States, predominantly chefs at high end restaurants. Yet, Sea to Table has continuously advanced the way it uses NetSuite in the business. Fish are now packed according to the customer’s specific requests. For example a chef can request 10 pounds of swordfish steaks with skin and 20 pounds of fileted tuna without the skin, all captured within NetSuite.
“At the dock they will process to the chef’s specification,” Dimin said. “All that can be done inside sales order and purchase order system.”
Once it’s in the ordering system NetSuite integrates with the FedEx shipping API and the fish are shipped directly to the customer.
That’s just one of the changes. It’s been a steady evolution to get to this point. When he started the company, Dimin had only the second high speed Internet connection on the island of Tobago. Yet, the foresight in being a pioneer in running his business in the cloud allowed him to grow and transform along the way. After the company’s initial success in the Caribbean, Dimin sent his son to the fisheries of Alaska to learn the business there and is now taking fish from three docks in Alaska and has expanded into the Gulf Coast and greater Atlantic.
“The business evolved over time yet the model we built on that same piece of software we still run our entire business on,” Dimin said.
NetSuite has helped to support that change. When Sea to Table recently expanded its customer base beyond high-end restaurants to 40 university systems around the country, NetSuite handled that with relative ease. Additionally, the organization recently replaced a Drupal website with NetSuite SuiteCommerce, allowing customers to view catches, place orders and check order status.
“The basics were in place 10 years ago,” Dimin said. “But it’s been an evolution. The reason NetSuite has an advantage in the marketplace is it takes a long time to develop a product like that. One of the reasons I wanted to build on a tool like NetSuite and I knew it would be a good idea was the scalability. The only real limitation of NetSuite is your imagination.”
And Dimin is imagining much more. Right now, fishermen are mostly reliant on Sea to Table employees to enter their catch, but he envisions fishermen entering product directly into NetSuite themselves estimating the type and amount of catch before going out and updating it after it lands. He is also testing a direct-to-consumer business where people can go online and see what fish are available, where it came from and who caught it, all with complete confidence that, for example, the American Red Snapper they orderedl is truly an American Red Snapper and that it was caught with sustainable practices, a real differentiator in a market that has shown itself a little murky when it comes to fish labelling.
“Our focus is to create better market for our fishermen increase the number of people who get to eat better fish, instead of limiting to the highest end white table cloth restaurants,” Dimin said. “We see this tool as a really good thing to drive value to the fishermen and create value to chefs on the other side.”