Coastal Companies Keeps Growing with Silver Creek Software

In a constantly evolving industry, Visual Produce platform is ready for anything

Two decades ago, The Coastal Companies, then known as Coastal Sunbelt Produce, went shopping for software that could improve its ability to manage its growing fresh produce business. At the time, The Coastal Companies was a modest food service distributor, the second largest in the Western Buffalo area and trying to gain a foothold in the Mid-Atlantic.

In the intervening years the company has grown almost six-fold to emerge as one of the region’s leading distributors of fresh produce and dairy, with 185 refrigerated trucks, a 330,000-square foot facility, and more than 1000 employees. Now based in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. metropolitan area, The Coastal Companies is still using the same software it implemented more than 20 years ago: Visual Produce by Silver Creek Software.

Flexibility is the Key to Longevity

It is almost unprecedented these days for a company to be able to use the same technology for that span of time. The Coastal Companies’ Director of IT Rich Kreuzburg chalks it up to flexibility.

“Even with the growth we’ve seen, Silver Creek has been able to keep up with our volume change,” Kreuzburg says. “We’ve been through so many changes in terms of how much we sell and the increasing range of products we offer, and Silver Creek has been able to adapt at every point along the way.”

One of the changes has been expansion into manufacturing. In the late 1990s, the company created East Coast Fresh, now known as EcoFresh. Today EcoFresh is itself a leading processor of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Tracy Moore, The Coastal Companies’ Vice President of Customer Care, manages the business that serves major retailers and broadline distributors along the East Coast.

“I use Visual Produce every day to handle our manufacturing,” Moore says. “Visual Produce is so flexible that we can use the same platform to manage both our fresh produce business and our manufacturing. We manage inventory, create custom sales reports and analyze sales per customers so that we always have a handle on our sales and productivity.”

Moore says The Coastal Companies also use Visual Produce reports on the buying side and to manage the cash out and all of the pricing, including the process of setting customer prices.

“Visual Produce is an all-purpose solution, but one that’s designed specifically for the fresh produce industry. Over the years, it’s really helped pull together all of the disparate parts of our business.”

Since WMS provides time-stamped logs of the work being done inside the warehouse, it can also help managers identify how quickly each task is being performed. This information, in turn, can be used to measure the performance of warehouse employees and, for instance, provide incentives for outstanding work.

Backed up by Top-Tier Support

The regulatory environment surrounding the produce industry is in a constant state of flux. Kreuzburg and Moore say Silver Creek Software has earned the right to remain the company’s software of record by continually improving and adapting to meet changing conditions.

“Silver Creek Software has always been on top of issues both technical and regulatory,” says VP Moore.  “When we ask Silver Creek for modifications to help us navigate though all this change, they’re right there for us, asking all the appropriate questions to get to the root of the issue. They want to make sure they understand exactly what problems we’re trying to solve, and then they help us solve them quickly and within our budget. I mean, you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

“From their industry focus to their personalized attention, Silver Creek Software is a refreshing alternative to the large ERP software companies.”

Ross Foca, Coastal Sunbelt Produce

SQL Database Makes Integration Easy

As Director of IT, Kreuzburg is a big fan of how easy it is to integrate Silver Creek Software products with other applications, starting with Coda, the company’s WMS.

Currently, Kreuzburg says, Visual Produce is integrated with Syntelic, a software platform that tracks customer history from the perspective of the deliveries they’ve received. It shares data with GreenMile, technology that enables distribution companies to manage their deliveries, surveys, and overall fleet performance. And it is hooked into Roadnet Transportation Suite, which helps companies optimize their delivery routing.

“Visual Produce has its fingers in a lot of other systems inside our organization,” Kreuzburg says. “The Visual Produce back end is built with SQL, so there are thousands of packages we can integrate with. The fact that Silver Creek doesn’t use a proprietary database comes in very handy when it comes to picking out other software we want to pull data from.”

A Platform that Anticipates Your Needs

Kreuzburg says the front end of the Visual Produce system meets the company’s needs as well.

“Most of the features and reports we use are right out of the box. We’ve done a fair amount of customizations, but the important thing is that we’re customizing what’s already in the platform instead of having to build from scratch.”

He says that in the twelve years he’s worked at The Coastal Companies, he can recall only a few instances when his department has had to ask Silver Creek Software to put a brand new system in place.  And when they do, he says, Silver Creek is always very quick to respond. “It’s fast because it’s usually a matter of them changing what’s already inside Visual Produce to meet our specific needs.”

Daegas notes that while truck routing is not part of WMS per se, it does highlight the value of having WMS integrated into a company’s core ERP system. Part of creating picking orders, he says, includes knowing such things as the capacity of each truck in terms of number of pallets or weight capacity. If this information is stored in a separate system, it can make it harder to create the correct order. With the wrong order, trucks can be inadvertently overloaded and subject to costly fines and shipping delays.

A Platform that Anticipates Your Needs

Kreuzburg says the front end of the Visual Produce system meets the company’s needs as well.

“Most of the features and reports we use are right out of the box. We’ve done a fair amount of customizations, but the important thing is that we’re customizing what’s already in the platform instead of having to build from scratch.”

He says that in the twelve years he’s worked at The Coastal Companies, he can recall only a few instances when his department has had to ask Silver Creek Software to put a brand new system in place.  And when they do, he says, Silver Creek is always very quick to respond. “It’s fast because it’s usually a matter of them changing what’s already inside Visual Produce to meet our specific needs.”