Success Story is a Sourcing Journal feature highlighting innovative solutions across all areas of the supply chain.
As Covid-19 forced more people to online shopping, many retailers and manufacturers had to step up their digital presence to combat the influx. This was made even more complicated, as companies struggled to transition to remote work.
Westmoor Manufacturing, a 74-year-old Western wear maker of brands like Panhandle, Rock & Roll Denim and Powder River, is just one company that got in front of the problem before it escalated. Adding an ERP system by Centric Software, Westmoor scaled up its brand output 30 percent and cut costing process time by 80 percent, all with the same workforce head count.
Founded in 1946 by German immigrants Ernest and Martin Hochster, Westmoor Manufacturing has gone far beyond manufacturing its trademark pearl-snap Western shirts. Today, the values of individuality, intelligence and style permeate the company’s successful Western apparel brands, which are manufactured at its factory in Fort Worth, Texas.
Upgrading and innovating
When Westmoor staff began transitioning to remote work, the company was rapidly growing, but product development was still being run by email and spreadsheets, communication among employees needed improvement and speed-to-market needed to increase.
“During the time that we all worked at home, the IT people found ways for us to get into our existing system, but boy, was it clunky and slow,” said Liz Enoch, technical design and production manager at Westmoor Manufacturing. To combat this problem, Westmoor began looking to upgrade its enterprise resource planning (ERP), and with the help of a consultant, they found Centric Software, a company that helps fashion, retail, manufacturing and consumer goods companies increase efficiency and speed.
“We initially screened a field of eight product lifecycle management (PLM) vendors and one PLM module offered as part of an ERP platform we were considering. We used a detailed RFP (request for proposal) and scorecard evaluation methodology and put significant effort into determining our needs so that our recommendation would be the absolute best fit. We didn’t skimp on any steps; we took our time, and each team member had a voice,” said Mike Kelly, an independent consultant at the time.
After narrowing the contenders down, Westmoor eventually chose Centric Software, who in addition to “having what we felt was technologically the best solution,” took the time to understand Westmoor’s needs and goals, like its need to improve what was a “somewhat disjointed” product development process. “The team’s choice of Centric was pretty much unanimous.” Kelly added.
Since the implementation, Westmoor has seen an improvement in team collaboration and remote working. Additionally, visibility into the production process has increased, making it easier for employees to see the ready styles, which used to require several steps. They have saved time, boosted efficiency and business execution, all while rapidly growing the business. In fact, Westmoor has input almost 4,000 styles in the system already just since July.
“We’re introducing more and more styles—I’d venture to say it’s every bit of a 30 percent increase in styles that has been facilitated by Centric,” Kelly added. “We don’t have 30 percent more people on the design team or the tech team. So, we’ve been able to scale without adding 30 percent more headcount.” In addition to 30 percent more SKUs with the same team, Westmoor also reduced the costing process time and cutting layout time.
Some at Westmoor even described the process as a “step forward” as the implementation allows staff to be more organized and efficient with a “pretty stress-free” transition for tech and production.
“We’re certainly happy with where we’ve gotten so far. We know that there are still capabilities of Centric PLM that we haven’t had the time to leverage yet,” Kelly added. “We’re so busy dealing with the tonnage of our day-to-day work with relatively the same size group, however, we are looking forward to actively using more features that we feel will make a big difference.”