New Outlooks And Improvements For Future Growth
The beginning of the 2013 lawn and garden season was filled with lots of excitement and uncertainty. With a major shift in the distributor landscape, many retailers were left scrambling to ensure their products were stocked for the spring season. In mid-January, Arett responded with several initiatives to ensure that independent lawn and garden centers would have a strong, stable and secure supply chain partner well into the future. Now that we are more than half way through the spring season, we wanted to give you a recap on Arett’s progress and an outlook into the future.
Personnel & Office Expansion
Overall, Arett has added over 50 employees in various departments to accommodate our increase in business and to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. To accommodate our larger staff, we repurposed our Pennsauken “backroom” into office space with 5 offices and 15 cubicles and added a new parking lot to accommodate staff and visitors. With the good fortune of growing and gaining many new staff members, comes the challenge of remembering who is who. We developed a staff photo phone list to help everyone get better acquainted. In addition, we have scheduled a summer BBQ every other Friday to help build a cohesive team. All are welcome!
One of Arett’s major short term and long term priorities is improving the Business Systems and Solutions within the company. As we speak, we have an infrastructure upgrade in development that includes replacing our server hardware, installing new server software and creating a virtualized server environment that will give us an Arett Private Cloud Infrastructure. This will allow Arett to enjoy improved performance, increased capacity and elevated Disaster Recovery Planning.
Arett has also improved our EDI programs and established several new EDI connections with customers and vendors alike which frees up time for our customer service and accounting teams to better deal with the customers’ needs rather than handling, matching and processing paperwork.
Looking ahead, Arett is in Phase 1 of upgrading our Business Systems which will include a new, state of the art ERP system (Enterprise Resource Planning). This 2 year and approximately $1.5 million project will provide Arett leading edge technology to better serve our customers and empower our employees with better processes and access to information. In the meantime, we have already made several improvements in the online ordering system, Arett Direct, and have other improvements scheduled to be completed by the Open House 2013.
To keep up with the additional business and a dramatic increase of inventory, operations increased warehouse space significantly in both Connecticut and Ohio and increased the associate staffing levels in excess of 60% to effectively handle the increased workload. Arett has also just signed a lease on a new 200,000 square foot warehouse in Troy, Ohio. We will be moving our Midwest operations into this new facility in November.
Even with all of the changes, the distribution centers have maintained high efficiency rates, with YTD order accuracy (based on warehouse errors) running 99.83% for the Bristol, CT warehouse and 99.90% for the Troy, OH warehouse. We would also like to congratulate the entire team from the Troy, OH distribution center for going 775 consecutive days without an injury.
The biggest line acquisition made by Arett in 2013 was Good Tidings, which is now available exclusively through Arett Sales. By maintaining the same knowledgeable staff, Arett was able to sustain the same great selection, quality and service expected by Good Tidings customers.
Arett is currently in the process of building out a new 10,200 sq. ft. Good Tidings showroom providing 20% more space than before and only 5 minutes away from the Baltimore airport – doors are scheduled to open in Summer 2013.
The new and improved Good Tidings Showroom will have a full-time professionally trained staff, new Trim-A-Tree themes, expanded trees and lighting programs, early order incentives, container pricing, showroom only specials and an expanded Fall & Halloween décor. Good Tidings is also excited to announce the inclusion of GE and Gemmy into the 2014 Holiday assortment. Please contact us with any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone- 410-360-6614.
Accounting, Credit And Customer Service
As part of our continuing efforts to increase productivity, reduce expenses and go green, we have acquired a state-of-the-art printing/mailing machine appropriately nicknamed “The Beast”. With this new technology, we will be able to get invoices and statements out faster and eliminate mailing errors. In addition, we will soon be able to email or fax invoices and statements to our customers.
The Merchandising department is implementing a new organizational model that pairs Merchants with Planners, wherein the Merchants will be responsible for the front end of the business relationship, and the Planners will be responsible for the back end. The establishment of teams like this will truly help us to maintain focus and complete all tasks at hand. Despite the industry disruptions, we have been able to maintain industry leading high fill rates, just slightly below our historical averages.
Advertising & Marketing
Greensmith Graphics, the advertising arm of Arett Sales, has implemented numerous marketing initiatives to better support our retailers in both product sell through and product knowledge. In addition to the wide assortment of print programs, including direct mail, gift card mailers, loyalty cards, signage and custom design work, Greensmith has put a large emphasis on digital marketing. We now offer comprehensive website and E-Commerce development, email marketing and video production.
Greensmith has put a large emphasis on product training and knowledge through Arett University, the industry’s first online learning center. Arett U provides retailers the ability to create a custom learning curriculum for employees and track their progress throughout the program. In addition to manufacturer specific courses, Arett U offers the Arett U Knowledge Bank, the Arett U Interactive Forum, Arett U Virtual Seminars, Arett On Demand and the Arett U Plant Gallery.
A Special Thanks To All Arett Employees
All of the success that has occurred since the beginning of the year has not come easy. Without the hard work, dedication and individual ownership of every Arett employee, we would not have been able to handle the increased workload.