SAP® Application Management Case Study
C.H. Guenther Supports Growing Business with Comprehensive ERP Solution (Cont'd)
We had to find resources with depth of knowledge in their respective SAP areas to supplement our team. AT&T brought those resources to us.”
- George Muller, Senior Director of Information Systems, C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.
About C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.
C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc. Facts
Quick migration to enterprise-grade ERP solution for new acquisitions; assistance with demanding day-to-day workload challenges
Expert project management from the AT&T application consulting team with on-going support on an as-needed basis
Efficient transition to SAP environment for newly acquired companies, on time and on budget; increased flexibility to handle complex issues without taxing internal staff
Food products manufacturer
Fifteen manufacturing plants across North America and Europe
C.H. Guenther & Son started in 1851 as a family owned and operated flour mill serving a small Texas community. Handed down from generation to generation, the privately held company still embraces its entrepreneurial spirit and core values of people, quality and growth, despite diversification and global expansion. Today, C.H. Guenther produces under many brand names including: Pioneer, White Wings, Williams, Sun Bird, Morrison and Peter Pan. Retail products include: pancake, biscuit, tortilla and gravy mixes, seasonings, flour, cornmeal, and ready-to-eat tortillas. Guenther also makes dry mixes and frozen bakery products to supply leading restaurant and foodservice companies.
C.H. Guenther has expanded from a one-plant manufacturing operation to 15 plants across North America and Europe. To facilitate future acquisitions and to support its expanded operations, the growing company turned to SAP applications in 2010 for a robust, dependable and sustainable enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. In 2012, C.H. Guenther’s acquisition of the Pizza Blends operation triggered a critical migration project to consolidate and standardize Pizza Blends’ business processes on the C.H. Guenther SAP ERP platform.
To manage the Pizza Blend integration project and augment the C.H. Guenther application resources, the company engaged the AT&T application consulting team. This supplemented C. H. Guenther’s resources and helped bring the project successfully to completion on time and on budget. Now the CHG SAP Applications team handles the integration and day-to-day management of business processes for all sites, with AT&T at the ready to provide additional support as needed.
Adding Pizza Blends to the Mix
I think Guenther values relationships that endure over an extended period of time, where the respective companies are interested in each other’s mutual success. AT&T has certainly demonstrated that during the time I’ve been involved with them.”
- George Muller, Senior Director of Information Systems, C.H. Guenther & Son, Inc.
C.H. Guenther has shown a shrewd business sense in its acquisitions strategy, and Pizza Blends was no exception. Pizza Blends Inc. has been a pioneer and industry leader in custom flour blending for more than 25 years. It is also one of the largest manufacturers in the United States of proprietary blended products for the pizza industry. When C.H. Guenther acquired Pizza Blends, one challenge was to integrate this business under its corporate umbrella.
“Understanding the Pizza Blends operation was critical to integrating that very successful business with our own,” explained George Muller, Senior Director of Information Systems for C.H. Guenther. “We had to provide a technology platform that would support it during the transition and for years to come.”
The business integration process encompassed everything from general ledger to accounts payable/receivable, order management and billing, inventory, purchasing, manufacturing, production planning and business warehouse. SAP ERP provided the tools for standardizing these processes.
Expanding the Team
To drive the project, C.H. Guenther engaged AT&T for integration and project management services. The AT&T project manager helped the internal C.H. Guenther team execute a blueprint process—laying out the project design, specifications and requirements. The on-site AT&T team supported the six-month integration effort, bringing in SAP functional area experts as needed. “AT&T augmented our top-notch SAP support team,” Muller said, “and the external resources AT&T added to the project complemented the internal resources from C.H. Guenther. We had the business managers from different aspects of the operation working with both the internal and external technical teams.”
The original go-live date for the integrated system was early February, but due to some internal priorities this was shifted to April.
“It was a very large, complex project with many tentacles, and we were moving at a very fast pace,” Muller noted. “We had to find resources who had the depth of knowledge in their respective SAP areas to supplement our team. AT&T brought those resources to us. They came up with talent that could hit the ground running, without a lot of orientation and training. It was a very well orchestrated, collaborative team effort that brought this project successfully to fruition on budget.”
Expertise on Demand
Everyday logistics are of utmost importance to any multi-site manufacturing and distribution operation. For C.H. Guenther, business success depends on the coordinated interworking of countless moving pieces across different geographies. SAP ERP logistics tools help the company service its U.S. customers in a dependable and timely fashion.
The company hosts and manages its SAP solutions in-house, with contracted support from AT&T on an as-needed basis. Because its project loads vary, so do C.H. Guenther’s demands for SAP application management expertise. In addition to helping design and manage integration projects for new acquisitions, AT&T is available to help augment C.H. Guenther’s project work on a day-in, day-out basis.
“It gives us tremendous flexibility to be able to draw on the resources AT&T has in its bullpen,” Muller observed. “We can use them for a week or two, a month or two, or as long as the project requires within our bank of hours.
“Because of its breadth and depth of resources, AT&T can help expedite and tackle some of our toughest projects,” he added.
Connecting a Global Enterprise
Beyond the SAP support, C.H. Guenther relies on a full suite of communications solutions from AT&T to keep its expansive operations connected. This includes a high-performance virtual private network with multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) that is managed by AT&T. The VPN provides any-to-any communications as well as the data networking support for SAP.
“The telecommunications topology has changed quite a bit over the last 15 to 20 years,” Muller said, “going from point-to-point dedicated circuits to frame relay and now MPLS. Incorporating class of service functionality allows us to optimize bandwidth utilization based on the type of traffic that’s going across our network.”
AT&T Connect®, an audio and web conferencing solution, also runs over the VPN and is another critical communications tool for C.H. Guenther. The company holds monthly and quarterly business update meetings with representatives from all of its plants using the service, which supports both scheduled and ad hoc meetings.
“This morning I was on the phone with a couple of managers in San Antonio, and we had people in England on the teleconference as well,” Muller related. “The quality of voice was such that you would have thought they were in the office next door.”
Arming the Road Warriors
In addition to wireline services, AT&T is also C.H. Guenther’s wireless provider. “At this point, the majority of our road warriors use their smartphones and tablets for email,” he said. “Looking to the future, we can take advantage of expanded mobile access to these applications to help our employees be even more productive. We’ve only scratched the surface.”
Part of the beauty of all of these services is that C.H. Guenther employees can take them for granted. Just as most people don’t understand the electricity that lights their offices and powers their computers, C.H. Guenther workers can use these communications channels with no concern for what goes on behind the scenes. And that’s as it should be.
“When C.H. Guenther employees come in each morning,” said Muller, “they just want to access SAP and the other applications we’re using. They don’t care about the technology behind the communications. AT&T makes it possible for us to provide these services transparently to our internal customers—and I view all of our employees as internal customers.”
The Value of Enduring Relationships
Over the course of its tradition-laden history, C.H. Guenther has engaged in countless business relationships. The company places a high value on those that last.
“The relationship between AT&T and C.H. Guenther goes back many, many years,” Muller said. “I think Guenther values relationships that endure over an extended period of time, where the respective companies are interested in each other’s mutual success. AT&T has certainly demonstrated that during the time I’ve been involved with them. Hopefully AT&T will be a strategic business partner for many years to come.”
With its traditional values, world-class ERP system and well-established strategic business partnerships, C.H. Guenther is poised for another 160 years of calculated growth and well-earned prosperity.