As CEO of Air Oasis(opens in new tab), a Texas-based manufacturer founded in 2004, Jon Bennert is passionate about providing air filtration solutions for thousands of customers: “I get the privilege of making products that save people’s lives,” he said.
Three years ago, Air Oasis shifted to a direct-to-consumer model for its range of high-quality air purifiers. Shortly after, the advent of the pandemic and a historic fire season on the West Coast made Americans increasingly concerned about indoor air quality and its effect on health. Air Oasis’s orders increased 300% in 2020, a major milestone in the company’s mission to help families and employees feel safe in their homes and offices.
Operationally, the Air Oasis team struggled to keep up with demand using a combination of QuickBooks and other tied-in systems. Their slow, on-premises QuickBooks Enterprise system and its lack of customization and flexibility dragged on productivity. Limited reporting threatened inventory accuracy. Single-user mode meant that importing payroll or inventory adjustments brought business to a grinding halt as all but one person had to log out.
In short, “300% growth overnight was a lot to deal with,” Bennert said. “We needed [a business system] built for the long run.”
A seamless solution
Air Oasis turned to NetSuite ERP(opens in new tab) to improve efficiency and make sure customers received products in a timely manner. The cloud-based solution’s ability to accommodate plenty of users and its seamless integration with other systems – including Shopify and customer service live chat and phone systems – means that workflows now carry on uninterrupted.
“Having a true ERP that is almost fully customizable and can tie into many other systems is the best part of NetSuite and is what sold us. It’s not just accounting software,” Bennert said. “I wish we had NetSuite before.”
Following the pandemic’s peak, Air Oasis was able to retain 50% of its 2020 growth, and “we feel the advantages we gained within NetSuite were a big part of this retention,” he added.
Air Oasis now consolidates its business on one easy-to-use platform:
- HR functions are centralized in NetSuite SuitePeople(opens in new tab) for easy payroll processing and employee timekeeping.
- The marketing team can quickly generate reports to determine the lifetime values of customers, which helps them decide how much to invest in acquiring new customers through ad campaigns on platforms like Google and Facebook.
- The company’s Shopify ecommerce site is tied into NetSuite via NetSuite Connector(opens in new tab). The Connector exports orders – including customer records, addresses, items and more – into NetSuite Order Management(opens in new tab) for fulfillment. After fulfillment, the Connector exports shipping data back to Shopify, and customers receive confirmation emails with tracking information. Orders are shipped faster, and refunds and cancellations have a single touchpoint. Bennert is proud that Air Oasis has the capability to get an order out the door 15 minutes after a customer places it.
Air Oasis is also using NetSuite to forecast demand and ensure it has enough inventory on-hand. And when building products like an IonicAir purifier, production crews use scanners to report their build and reflect the inventory in the system. Before NetSuite, they used Google Sheets or paper to report builds, and an Air Oasis team member would then manually record the build in QuickBooks – a “crazy amount of work,” Bennert said.
The team also ran an annual physical inventory count(opens in new tab), with additional counts each quarter, using paper worksheets. In between, QuickBooks would often glitch and demand a rebuild of company data(opens in new tab), after which inventory numbers would often come up wrong, forcing a recount by hand. Now, products are barcoded for easy mobile scanning that funnels directly into the ERP system. And rather than shutting down operations for days at a time to conduct that annual count, the company uses NetSuite to schedule counts of small groups of products every two weeks. These changes have resulted in much more accurate numbers.
Air Oasis also adheres to a lean business model, using the “first in, first out” (FIFO) inventory costing method and aiming to hold no more than 30-60 days of inventory. However, it increased its on-hand inventory amid the pandemic and supply chain issues. In the wake of the adjustment, the team ensures company health by closely tracking cash flow in NetSuite.
Meanwhile, warehouse teams scan barcodes before packing an order, and a NetSuite customization stops them from shipping the order if products don’t match those on the pick list. More orders ship without error, and not having to reship products “saves a fortune on the backend,” Bennert said. Customer satisfaction has increased dramatically as a result, he added.
Bennert also values customized dashboards in NetSuite(opens in new tab), which executives use to analyze performance across departments and make data-driven decisions. A “company health dashboard,” for example, tracks profitability, customer satisfaction, purchasing needs, and more.
“NetSuite is our hub and source of truth about every metric in our business,” Bennert said. “It’s easy for department heads to quickly view their dashboards or a saved report for vital information.”
A team effort
Air Oasis has improved efficiency so much that it hasn’t needed to backfill employees lost to natural attrition, even when business tripled. Now, the production crew occasionally finds itself with spare time, Bennert said, some of which it uses to benefit the community of Amarillo, Texas. The crew takes company time each week to volunteer with Snack Pak 4 Kids, putting together food packs for underprivileged public school students.
Back in the office, employees are excited about unlocking new possibilities within NetSuite, Bennert added.
“The more we got people on board with using the system, the more they all wanted to tinker with it and see how they could connect it to our business,” he said.
Team members have built customizations for HR management, like a point system that rewards timely clock-ins and subtracts points for late ones. They’ve also tied in phone systems, live-chat functions, and product support to NetSuite.
“Every time I think we’ve maxed out NetSuite’s abilities, one of our genius employees finds another way to use the system,” said Bennert. “Everybody has embraced it so well, challenging themselves to see what they can do next with NetSuite.”
Enthusiastic about Air Oasis’s future, Bennert plans to keep using NetSuite to maintain a lean business model.
“With ongoing supply chain issues, we’ve streamlined our product line to focus on where the demand and return is highest,” he said, adding that as the company feeds more data into NetSuite over time, processes are improving and results are getting even more accurate.
“We no longer have to focus on managing our software and can instead focus on the growth of the business,” he said. “We have found no limits to what this platform is capable of.”
Get more details about NetSuite’s features for manufacturers(opens in new tab).