Custard Stand – Searching for Traceability

Custard Stand Food Products, located in Webster Springs, WV, makes delicious Hot Dog Chili and Chili Soup. The company provides product to distributors/retailers and sells directly to customers online and in The Custard Stand restaurants.

In 2003, Dee and Angie Cowger converted a three-bay car wash behind their family restaurant to a USDA-approved production facility and launched Custard Stand Food Products. In February 2016, the Cowgers pitched both products on ABC’s reality show “SHARK TANK,” and while they didn’t get a deal, the appearance dramatically increased retail and online sales.

 Custard Stand’s facility regularly produces and packages more than 4,000 pounds of hot dog chili and chili soup. Custard Stand’s success increased demand for products at large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Sam’s Club, smaller chains, and independently owned stores.

The company’s rapid growth strained the limits of Custard Stand’s Excel/paper system for tracking inventory and production. Staff members devoted a great deal of time and energy to preparing for food safety audits and mock recalls.

Mar-Kov: Vittles

In order to improve inventory control, planning operations, and to more efficiently maintain food traceability records, Custard Stand recognized it needed a food manufacturing purpose-built software system. The company also wanted to keep its QuickBooks accounting system.

Custard Stand found Vittles, a software package specifically designed for food manufacturers created by Mar-Kov Computer Systems.

"With Vittles, checking our entire inventory only takes a few clicks!"
– Jamilyn Beekley

FOOD TRACEABILITY

Custard Stand had a number of SOPs designed to ensure it was compliant and audit ready. To ensure that these SOPs were being followed, staff spent a lot of time checking and re-checking SOPs. Multiple team members also spent hours examining batch records and testing information to catch errors. And they all feared paper records would be misplaced, damaged by a coffee spill or accidentally tossed in a trash can.

MOCK RECALL

With the paper-based system, mock recalls became a real hassle. The process involved retrieving and cross-referencing multiple receiving, production, and shipping records, going back and forth between records maintained in QuickBooks and the filing cabinet. Staff often worked late or neglected other tasks to complete these tasks within the legislated time constraints.

 

VITTLES TRACK AND TRACE

Vittles records all lot information and barcodes for raw materials at the point of receipt. Now, Custard Stand records each lot used in its batches electronically. Similarly, they record lot numbers at the time of shipping by barcode-scanning the assembled sales orders – both wholesale orders for retailers as well as web orders.

“We do a quarterly mock recall that used to put us under a lot of pressure to compile results within the time constraints set by our annual auditors. With Vittles, mock recalls are so easy—it’s beautiful!” - Jamilyn Beekley.

 Lot and quality tracking is now accomplished as a part of regular business operations – receiving inventory, executing batches, shipping – so Custard Stand achieves traceability without additional labor overhead and all the double checking they were accustomed to before system implementation.

Performing a recall is now a process that takes less than two minutes. Custard Stand can key in a lot number and generate a full traceability log in moments. Retrieving testing records, shipment dates, and customer/supplier contact information is just one click away

Inventory Control and Planning

Custard Stand’s system provides accurate, instantaneous inventory lookups. Employees no long rely on difficult-to-maintain spreadsheets or run to the warehouse to check on stock and expiration dates. Through a series of informative reports, Custard Stand’s staff can learn quickly and clearly what is available and what isn’t.

Furthermore, based on Custard Stand sales records and BOMs, Vittles MRP (Material Requirements Planning) functionality provides a detailed plan of what materials need to be purchased and manufactured, with quantities and dates specified. The company no longer experiences surprise inventory shortages that result in the inability to ship products to distributors and customers. 

Quickbooks Integration

Vittles provided a seamless QuickBooks integration. Custard Stand bookkeeping and accounting personnel didn’t have to learn a new process to access reports and needed information. Vittles handles all of the data entry and Custard Stands enjoys an improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of the data available.

Mar-Kov Vittles’ impeccable service pleasantly surprised the Custard Stand team. At the start of the integration, Project Manager Sylvain served as their point of contact for all training, questions, and support needed to get the Custard Stand employees up to speed. After a year, Sylvain remains the primary point of contact when the staff has questions.

“Sylvain is pretty much the man. He gets back to me right away. He is very patient. I feel like there are no dumb questions and he is very reliable” – Jamilyn Beekley