Teknor Apex Upgrade to Infor M3 to Support Their Growing Global Operations
Teknor Apex is a customs plastic compounder. They have a multitude of business units that play in that space. Vinyl, PVC to Nylon ETP and Thermal plastic elasticizer—different types of plastics and compounds that are a nuance to chemistrys.
They also have two other business units: pure chemicals space (plastic elasticizer business) and manufacturing garden hoses. Teknor is the largest producer of garden hoses in North America. Two of their most popular brands are Never Kink and Zero-G. Teknor Apex differentiators include the innovation of their products and being a custom compounder. They work tightly with their customers to develop specific chemistrys that meet their customer’s needs.
Their business units include: North America, Asia (Singapore and China), Europe (Netherlands, Belgium and Germany).
Business Needs, ERP Selection & Challenges:
Teknor was running Movex- predecessor to Infor M3 since 2001. They had a large team of developers and business systems analysts. They used Movex from 2001 to 2012. They decided to upgrade the software in 2012. From a business perspective what necessitated that change to upgrade was to primarily grow from a North American focused business to one that was operating much more globally overtime – their global footprint was growing tremendously.
The Movex system they were running was highly customized/modified, and didn’t have all the features and functionality that was necessary to support a global business.
Back in 2010 (acquisitions occur every three years), Teknor Apex acquired a company that operated in both Europe and in the United States, a business unit of DSM called Sarlink. It was really their first endeavor in having a subsidiary in Europe. With that acquisition, brought a whole new set of challenges as far as the Movex System. Movex didn’t accommodate the VAT laws in Europe. The VAT laws in 2010 underwent significant changes, and because the software package they were running had been released in the early 2000s, it didn’t conform to the new laws. Out of necessity at the time, they modified the software to a huge extent to make it bare bones minimum to be VAT compliant, which was quite challenging and tedious. A series of issues such as the VAT that occurred, brought the company to the realization that running a 10 year old software package to run an organization that was becoming more global just didn’t work for them. From there, they looked at next steps in regards to an upgrade, or acquisition of a new ERP system.
Teknor Apex did their due diligence and did an extensive search on other software platforms. However, they decided to go with Infor M3 largely due to it meeting their needs and the huge investment at that time in Movex. They had a large user base using Movex and were already accustomed to using it. So, switching to another platform other than Infor, would be challenging.
The IT Director spent a great deal of time in identifying consultant companies that would come in and help Teknor with their Infor M3 13.1 implementation. They interviewed over 10 different consultants at 10 different consulting companies trying to find a good fit. However, what the IT Director found that was most common in interviewing these consulting companies was that these consultants could take the Infor M3 software application, load and deploy it in an environment with no prior experience using Movex. They only knew the basics!
Teknor already had a staff of developers and analysts that had worked with the Movex software for over 13 years, and what the IT Director was finding was although the developers at Teknor didn’t know the new version of M3, they knew a lot more about how Movex operated than the consultants they interviewed. They found that the consulting market was extremely lacking.
Teknor wanted to find an Infor M3 consulting firm that could supplement what the Teknor team knew, but to take them to the next level with the implementation, and to allow them to display the business incremental benefits in implementing Infor M3.
After Teknor’s extensive search, they found LeanSwift! At the time, LeanSwift was a much more smaller company and had under 10 employees at the time. All the consultants that LeanSwift brought in were absolute experts in their specialized areas. They worked with Pauli Thevar (co-founder of LeanSwift) who had an extensive Movex and M3 background. Linda Kvarnstrom (Consulting Services Director) helped Teknor with their Mettech technology and trained the Teknor Apex IT staff. Teknor Apex felt that all the LeanSwift consultants elevated the implementation- it just wasn’t rolling out the software to get it to work. LeanSwift understood what Teknor did with Movex and made it better! From there, Teknor forged their strong relationship with LeanSwift. Currently, Teknor has a small team of developers and supplemented that team with the LeanSwift team with their offshore offerings.
LeanSwift started implementing Infor M3 13.1 in 2012 for Teknor Apex. Teknor took a risk adverse implementation approach intentionally. They rolled out one of their business units every 6 months in the United States (2014) and did each world operating entity about every 6-8 months after that. It took them a couple years to get the United States implementation rolling. Thereafter it was Singapore, China, Belgium and Germany (2018).
Teknor did not experience any significant business interruptions in any of those global implementations. They didn’t miss any shipments to customers and they were still able to process all cash flow (all AR and AP).
Once implementations were rolled out, the initial reactions from the sole users in using Infor M3 was cautious-optimism. It’s been received well both from an internal and an external party standpoint and with the notion that Teknor didn’t have any business interruptions. They also notified their customers that they were having a software implementation change.
Teknor went from largely a U.S. based business that had a lot of customizations to a new direction where they wanted to implement a base solution globally. It has taken quite a while for the users of the new M3 system to experience for themselves the reasons why staying away from a customized solution is advantageous. Recently and with tremendous help from LeanSwift, Teknor went through their customer order entry process that hands off into MRP project. Teknor implemented a series of modifications when they moved from Movex to M3 but found out those modifications where hindering their ability to truly use the planning systems. They wanted to redefine customer order entry but in reality what they were actually doing was taking the modifications out of the Movex system and getting the users used to using that base system. At the end of that project, Teknor had a tremendous appreciation for people in customer service and planning. They understood that by removing the modifications that were requested by the business and saw how much better the M3 system functioned without those modifications- – they saw that as a huge win!
Pre M3 landscape, they operated Movex globally but operated on separate, stand-alone instances. Teknor now has all global entities operating on Infor M3 13.1 working together!
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