A small meat processing operation named Quaker Maid Meats was founded in 1960. Today, this family-owned company has grown to over 100 workers in three production plants.
The company’s original mainstay was wafer-thin-sliced beef filets (muscle steaks.) Subsequently, Quaker Maid added breaded veal and beef patties, primarily for the institutional and restaurant markets, and began manufacturing a variety of other portion-controlled meat products. Growth continued with "Buttered Beef Steaks" and "Cubed Beef Steaks," along with a solid muscle sandwich steak, hamburger patties and veal steaks.
In the early 1970’s, rising beef prices created the need to develop a chopped and formed sandwich steak. This product became the company's largest mainstay growth item and allowed it to compete directly with the leading national brand. Because of the sandwich steak's success, the first expansion of the Carroll Street plant, originally built in 1968, also took place.
In late 1979, Quaker Maid formulated its version of the fully cooked Italian style meatball (later named Mama Lucia Italian Style Meatballs), adding another item to help customers fill out their orders. The company also designed a continuous meatball-forming, freezing operation that revolutionized the manufacturing process. The meatballs helped expand Quaker Maid’s market share on the Eastern seaboard and into the Chicago market.
In 1985, the company purchased another production facility to accommodate the success of the meatball line. Within two years, additional production capacity was required to support the entire product line, and in 1990 ground was broken in Reading for a new 4,000-square-foot office building, additional 15,000 square feet of processing area, and 10,000 square feet of freezer and tempering room. In 2005 a third plant was built to increase capacity, bringing Quaker Maid's total production facility size to over 110,000 square feet.
Quaker Maid's current product line includes all-beef sandwich steaks and fully cooked meatballs that are quick and easy to prepare, nutritious, and packaged under a variety of brand labels. Distribution spans all the major supermarkets and many large food service establishments throughout the United States and Bermuda.
Quaker Maid prides itself on continuing to implement the newest technologies available to produce the highest quality products and enhance the plants’ safety and sanitary environment. The company’s quality assurance department has been certified by the United States Department of Agriculture to participate in its TQC (Total Quality Control) program. Although Quaker Maid is constantly monitored by the USDA, this certification shifts the major responsibility from federal meat inspectors to the company’s own quality assurance staff.
Today, Quaker Maid Meats, Inc. remains a family-operated business with an unswerving dedication to quality, value and service. The company’s goal remains: to provide superior portion-controlled frozen meat products, manufactured with the best natural ingredients available, delivered to our customers at a fair and reasonable price.
When Andy Sims joined Quaker Maid as Controller in 2001, he discovered the company’s incumbent software system was extremely antiquated. The software did not cost-out inventory, and the system’s various modules were not integrated. He also found the system lacked reporting capabilities. In fact, it took programmers to produce the special reports needed by management.
Subsequently, Sims took a course in how to select a software/accounting package through K2 Enterprises, a leading educational firm. He then established a set of parameters, noting the features and functionality desired in a new Quaker Maid software package and initiated a search. Sims’ first considered specialized industry type software packages only to find that while their manufacturing functionalities were adequate, they fell short in other areas. After studying available ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solutions, the choice was narrowed to SYSPRO and Great Plains.
“We liked SYSPRO because it handled batch manufacturing very well. With Great Plains we would have to buy auxiliary manufacturing software to accommodate batch processing. And, we preferred not to do that. Not only did SYSPRO have lot tracking and traceability, but it fit our industry well, and the accounting side was solid,” notes Sims.
He also lauds the professionalism of the local SYSPRO reseller, Driscoll & Associates, Inc. “Dave Driscoll did a thorough study of our existing systems. He interviewed all the current users and documented his findings in a 25 page report. He followed up with a comprehensive discussion on how SYSPRO software would be a perfect fit for the current processes in place at Quaker Maid.”
Sims praises the SYSPRO ERP solution, stressing the numerous ways it has enhanced operational efficiencies at Quaker Maid. “SYSPRO facilitates inventory costing and batch process tracking, enabling us to closely monitor expenses. With the old system I had to cost every product by hand, and the results were never accurate. When goods are received in SYSPRO, they get updated in the accounting system immediately. The liability is in even before we get the invoice, and the inventory is always accurate and up to date, again enabling us to have a true snapshot of company financials at any point in time.
“Reporting is another big plus with SYSPRO,” continues Sims. “Our old system had no reporting capabilities. With SYSPRO, if we need to write a specialized report, we can use ACCESS or SQL and write any report we want.”
Sims turns to the subject of inventory turnover. “Our inventory turns really fast…our customers give us virtually no lead time. We may get an order today that a customer wants shipped in three days or less, so we have to continually match available inventory and orders.”
However, he adds that a special report designed by Driscoll enables him to run the report several times daily to match orders by date against available inventories.
“The report gives our production people an idea of what we need to make and when, and it certainly helps to increase inventory turns while keeping inventory quantities at low levels,” notes Sims, who also references another special report designed by Driscoll. This report enables Quaker Maid to accrue costs for various retailer marketing promotions at the time the retailer purchases the product.
“For example,” Sims says, “Safeway is going to run a particular promotion. We know the timeframe of the promotion, and we will accrue those marketing dollars when we sell them the product that’s being promoted. When you’re talking about 100 customers and going through distributors, it’s quite an involved process.” Other reports designed by Driscoll enable Sims to look at the accruals and special pricing considerations that had been made to selected retailers in the past.
Sims reflects on the wisdom of his selection of SYSPRO. “The SYSPRO implementation was relatively simple. Segueing from an almost nothing package to a sophisticated ERP solution was far easier than we had anticipated. Not only is SYSPRO a very stable system, but it’s easy to use and easy to train new users on the software.”
Commensurately, Sims lauds the contributions made by Driscoll & Associates, Inc. “Of course, the special reports designed by Driscoll have added numerous efficiencies to our operations,” he says. “Though we have had very few problems with the SYSPRO software, any time we’ve called Driscoll, the response has been immediate and thorough.”