Out in Ohio, Berlin Seeds is a family owned and operated business dedicated to helping their customers grow productive gardens with a satisfying harvest, supplying everything from top quality seed to garden tools to fertilizer (and drone cover crop planting, but we'll get to that in a moment).
Since the Wengerd family bought Berlin Seeds in 2021, things have been far from easy. In 2020 seed sales spiked and into 2021 demand was outpacing supply. Then in 2021, the reservoirs in the West were pretty dry and there wasn't enough water to get the seed production needed.
They realised that in order to thrive even in unpredictable economic weather, they needed to have a better understand of what was happening across their business. While QuickBooks and spreadsheets had been a great tool to start with, it was no longer powerful enough (or efficient enough) to take them to the next stage of growth.
In 2022 they made the decision to find software that would give them more insight into their business and streamline their processes, and a partner that supported their values and aligned with their mission. Koble fit the bill.
Their team and Koble's team got to work rolling out EBMS (Koble's ERP platform) across their business and they quickly become power users of the tool.
Implementing Power BI
As they looked back on the past years of ups and downs, Berlin Seeds decided that it would be wise to have two years of inventory on hand to ensure they could support customer demand and customer success.
It is no small feat to determine two years of supply with 50,000+ customers and seasonal products. With EBMS they had all the right information available, but the limited capabilities of Excel and standard reports meant a lot of long nights in the office wrangling Vlookups and messy data together to come up with purchasing numbers.
Their General Manager, Brenton Wengerd, started researching Microsoft Power BI capabilities, and consulted with the team at Koble to determine if that would be the best tool for them. As a result, in early 2023 they invested in Power BI to help them build more accurate reports, save them time, and take their ERP experience to the next level.
Power BI is a powerful business intelligence tool that can handle large data sets more efficiently than Excel, with an emphasis on presenting data in easy-to-understand charts and dashboards. These dashboards automatically refresh, giving easy access to real time information. It is a highly customizable tool that can be made to fit specific business needs.
(For more information on advanced business intelligence like Power BI, go here.)
Brenton invested in some Power BI training, and worked with a Koble consultant to build out a report that could clearly spell out their inventory needs. While the report is quite complex, Power BI offered the flexibility needed and soon they had a report that could sift through the data and forecast their inventory needs, taking into account parent items and projected growth. With that information they were able to purchase inventory with confidence and keep two years supply on hand to fulfill customer needs.
Their use of Power BI did not stop there. In fact, it has now become an integral part of their business. Whether it be determining sales volume in different states, or answering other high-impact business questions, they are continuously finding new ways to put their data to work for them. They have dashboards in place for each of their different areas of focus: insect and disease control, kitchen items and flowers, and seeds.
"You almost can't stop because there are so many fields and all this data you can play with"
There is a lot of excitement over at Berlin Seeds about the future. From putting drones to work helping farmers put cover crop into their corn, to purchasing a new warehouse for their mail order department, to entering the 3D modelling space; Berlin Seeds continues to grow and get stronger as they put in place solid systems to support their people and their innovation. In fact, they are now reporting 15% growth overall over the prior first quarter and expect their growth to continue well into the future.
"That's in part due to EBMS. EBMS has made it possible to be more efficient and I didn't spend a single night in the office all night."
If you want to take control of your data (and your time) to better grow and develop your business, we'd love to partner with you to put these tools to work!
Kelsey Stout is the Head of HR & Marketing at Koble. She loves helping people build strong and lasting businesses with meaningful work, the right systems in place, and a strong approach to culture. When not telling Koble stories, Kelsey can be found writing children's fiction, spending time with family, or playing the guitar (poorly but enthusiastically).