Interview of Jim Koleski, CFO, Alto-Shaam, Inc.
The Alto-Shaam Story
Whether you’re preparing haute cuisine in a top restaurant, health -conscious meals in a health care facility, or tater tots in the local school, the equipment must provide a great return on investment for the foodservice program to be successful. Alto- Shaam specializes in creating systems and equipment that are the core of successful and profitable foodservice programs in many different industries.
Who is Alto Shaam, the manufacturer?
Alto-Shaam is a leading “build to order” shop who sells products for the “hot” side of food preparation. Products include commercial ovens, rotisseries, fryers and other heated products. There is typically a wide variety of features and options in the Alto- Shaam products, some that pervade throughout the bill of materials. For example, there are a wide variety of power options for the needs of various countries, the option of gas or electric, and various power needs (voltage, plugs, etc). Alto-Shaam also institutes a rapid pace of continuous improvements to their products via an active value engineering program.
What were their goals with Product Configuration (Configure to order-CTO)?
“Our overriding goal was to eliminate waste from the product process”, said Jim. “We knew we were spending excessive time within inside sales, product engineering, production planning, and product costing. We were particularly interested in reducing our time in product engineering in order to dedicate more time to new product development”, indicated Jim.
Alto-Shaam realized that an effective implementation would require a dedicated cross- functional team to bring success. They established their Lean Office Initiative which included people from engineering, IT, customer service, order entry, and purchasing. They found the WorkWise team to be strong, with an excellent project plan that they were able to follow easily. “I would definitely recommend their people and processes.” said Jim.
Jim’s suggestions for an effective implementation: a good plan, strong training, and asking the right questions upfront. WorkWise believes that having a strong executive force like Jim plays an instrumental role in every project success.
Even though Alto-Shaam is a build- to order shop, and already realizing the benefits of lower inventories, reduced obsolescence, and faster turn- around on custom orders, Jim found a payback period in implementing product configuration of only 9 months. This is pretty amazing, considering that Jim only implemented this in four of their product lines to date. “One of the best payback items was in reducing the time that engineering had to spend in each order. We were able to utilize those engineering savings by investing in further new product development and value engineering programs. Overall, the RB-ERP configurator has helped us to advance against our competition.” indicated Jim. “We are also strong in hunting for and eliminating waste in our operations, and this implementation helped us in that effort. We saved time in inside sales, product engineering, product planning, and costing”, said Jim.
When Jim was asked if he would recommend this type of project to others, he answered “It definitely was a worthy exercise. The value stream mapping alone took out a lot of waste. We found the WorkWise product to be easy to use, flexible, and a great fit for the low volume, high mix type of operation”.
A Strategic Partnership
Jim came to Alto Shaam three years ago, with a strong background in manufacturing, and direct experience with the benefits of using product configuration. His first objective, upon starting, was to determine the capabilities and strength of his current ERP vendor-WorkWise. Jim demanded a strong strategic partner that would listen to his needs and help to propel his organization forward. So, Jim sat down with each of the key WorkWise leaders and discussed the direction of the WorkWise product. Jim talked with the President, Wayne Wedell, the head of development, Dick Grelck, and the head of sales/marketing, Harry Mosesian.
“I was pleased they incorporated my needs into the organization’s plans.” indicated Jim. Today, Jim holds quarterly strategic reviews with WorkWise on the implementation of key functions within Alto Shaam, and lays out the plans for the next 18 months.
Jim also participates in WorkWise development planning, currently with the development of the Performance Management Role- Based Workbench.
“I like their willingness to listen to my needs, and develop a strategic partnership.” advised Jim. “We wouldn’t work with someone who didn’t offer a strong on-going partnership.” said Jim.
We appreciate a good customer like Jim, and his leading company, Alto-Shaam. Thanks, Jim.