About Fancy Farm
Fancy Farm Popcorn is 100% family owned and operated in Bernie, Missouri. Founded by two brothers, Fred and Chris Tanner. The team consists of the Tanner family, dedicated, long time employees, and neighboring grower cooperators who contract popcorn production. Since 1987 they’ve been growing, harvesting, storing, processing and packaging corn on our Southeast Missouri farm and are proud to be the first in the industry to provide our customer with kits that include everything you need for a delicious batch of popcorn.
In 2015, Fancy Farm pursued new client opportunities. They wanted to expand their market and offer private label packages for larger customers. They concluded they could not be competitive without first becoming progressive. This meant becoming a food-safe certified facility and implementing formal and auditable lot traceability. To start, this was managed manually: Hand written logs were maintained to document production events and related lot numbers as they moved through the plant.
Lot traceability starts when the truck comes off the field and rolls across the scale. Many truckloads are combined into bins for storage and aging, usually 10-15 months. Tests are performed routinely; samples are pulled from the bins and then checked for moisture and other attributes. The trending test results will indicate when the corn is ready for process and packaging.
The plant operation begins when truckloads of cured popcorn are pulled from the bins into cleaning hoppers. Clean popcorn, packaging and ingredients are routed to the production room for process and case packing. Again, lot numbers for both ingredients and finished cases are required and tracked.
Implementing a Solution
With increase in customer opportunities, production volume also increased. Manual lot tracking started to become burdensome. The decision came quickly – a better system was needed to ensure success.
Fancy Farm worked with a consultant to determine their options, propose a solution, lead the implementation. The project kicked off with a business process review and requirements analysis.
The initial requirement was a manufacturing package with strong lot traceability, lot-testing traceability, warehouse ease of use with barcode readers and mini tablets, integrated with QuickBooks, deployed on a hosted environment.
“The truth is, when I contacted Mar-Kov, they answered yes to my entire requirements list’”
Janet Coursin, project manager.
The implementation phase was several months, going live July 1, 2015. Alex Koves, the project trainer and solution designer helped setup and customize the system based on the processes and reporting needs that were in place already. The user engagement was challenging because production and warehouse folks were transitioning from paper, not another system. A lot of new elements were introduced quickly.
“We discovered we needed a small customization to perfect our receiving process. This was accomplished and was critical to providing end to end reports for our food-safe audit.”
Post go-live, it was the end of month review process by accounting that drove the project to its current, highly accurate state. Every month since go live, the balances in Mar-Kov have been reconciled to GL balances in QuickBooks. The variance meant something needed research or fixing. Alex provided support throughout this phase of fine-tuning. This was valuable because he knew the Fancy Farm system. With time, the team dynamic grew in context to the system. They now see it as their tool for efficiency. Their motivation for keeping it right is high.
The success of this project is the result of several factors.
The software package provides the needed features, runs reliably, requires near no maintenance, especially with this hosted deployment. A simple statement, but extremely valuable and important.
The implementation service and support was personal and in context with the Fancy Farm business processes.
The commitment from the Fancy Farm team to keep the system correct and accurate, continuously, ensures production decisions are made based on real business conditions.
The users are able to update the application on their tablets, real time, wherever they are in the plant.
After 2 years of using the Mar-Kov system, the evidence of success for this project has presented. The first two food-safe audits returned excellent passing scores. Lot traceability from warehouse to source crop field was immediately available. Fancy Farm is now working with larger customers, delivering larger volume.