Case Study:
Sweet Harvest Foods

Transforming Sweet Harvest Foods: How Catalyst® Drove Financial Success and Streamlined Operations.

Sweet Harvest Foods: Boosting Profitability and Streamlining Operations with Catalyst®

ORGANIZATION:

Sweet Harvest Foods

LOCATION:

Cannon Falls, MN

INDUSTRY:

CPG – Food & Beverage

Organization Information

  • Sweet Harvest Foods is a worldwide leader in procurement, production, and distribution of top-quality honey, agave, and molasses products to the food service, retail, and manufacturing sectors across the United States.
  • They have production facilities in Minnesota and California to produce and supply our customers in the food service, manufacturing, and retail sectors.
  • Sweet Harvest Foods, owned by Blue Road Capital PE firm, is the leading all-natural sweetener processor in the United States.

“We’ve become a much better operating company with the timeliness and accuracy of the information. We can ask much more pointed questions.”

Patrick O’Neill
CFO

“…The biggest selling point for me is ease of use, which drives your user adaptability rate, or success rate much higher, and it sticks. You find that with other tools, when they’re not easy to use, they abandon them quickly. With Catalyst®, there’s real simplicity. This is a key driver, to maintaining those users and keeping them, engaged and self-sufficient and on the platform.”

Jeff Jacobs
SVP of Finance

“…being able to speak where we want it to go and what we want it to do from a business perspective and how we’re going to get the answers we want out the other end, that does drive a lot of the front-end decisions.”

Jeff Jacobs
SVP of Finance

“…one version of the truth and understanding …has driven decisions to push us harder in various areas and grow the business in the right pockets.”

Jeff Jacobs
SVP of Finance

Problems Identified:

  • Slow and laborious reporting process, lacking critical depth of information.
  • ERP provided no direct visibility into channel-by-channel sales, customer profitability, or item profitability – making it difficult for sales teams to obtain valuable information.
  • High volume of data requests on the immediate horizon as the company was preparing for sale.

Solutions Implemented:

  • Implemented Catalyst® by EBM Software, cutting the time and effort required for in-depth reporting and analysis while increasing accuracy.
  • Increased SKU and inventory visibility. Making it easier to make business decisions with confidence.
  • With Catalyst®’s easy implementation, the company was able to save time by uploading historical data within a week, reducing the total time spent on monthly reporting from 7 days down to 1, allowing them to focus on core business activities.

Benefits Realized:

  • High Adoption Rate
  • Reduced time spend on month end from 7 to 1 days
  • Increased visibility of SKUs and inventory
  • Cut expenses for professional services in half

Background

Sweet Harvest Foods chose Catalyst® as its FP&A solution because of its capability to easily integrate with Sweet Harvest systems (Sage ERP and Excel files…lots…), making the implementation fast and reliable, consolidating all data into a single source of truth.
The automated reporting, multiple budgeting scenarios, and customizable dashboards capabilities were crucial for improving business performance visibility across the organization and increasing accountability.

As an experienced leader and through multiple technologies implementations, Jeff wanted a system with a user-friendly interface capable of increasing his success rates.

As Jeff Jacobs described Catalyst®,

“It sticks… And so… you find that with other tools when they are not easy to use, they abandon them pretty quickly.”

Catalyst® implementation also saved time on month-end reporting and helped mitigate the impact of constantly changing variables, like global raw material prices.

As a result, Sweet Harvest Foods can now clearly comprehend the effects of these variables on their business, refining their decision-making process and overall operational efficiency.

The implementation process of Catalyst® was smooth and easy for Sweet Harvest Foods. During the acquisition of Nature Nate’s, the company was able to manually upload historical data within a week, allowing them to use it for reporting.

Results

Implementing Catalyst® at Sweet Harvest Foods yielded significant and far-reaching results. One of the main reasons for choosing Catalyst® was its self-service capabilities, allowing users to quickly understand customer and margin profiles down to the item level. This includes comprehending margin structures and allocating variances at any level.

The benefits of using Catalyst® are numerous. The sales process, budgeting, and analytics have all been transformed, leading to reduced questioning, faster numbers, and deeper insights.

Also, reliable data from back-end to front-end makes planning and projecting accurate information much more straightforward. This clarity helps the company identify areas for improvement and determine what they excel at based on data reflecting both wins and losses.

Noteworthy stats include:

  • Total time spent on monthly reporting reduced from 7 days to 1 day
  • Expenses for professional services halved in 2022 compared to 2018

1 SOURCE

of truth for data

HIGH ADOPTION RATE

Increasing collaboration between teams

Conclusion

The experiences and insights from Sweet Harvest Foods and Jeff Jacobs offer valuable advice for other businesses and professionals facing similar challenges. As Jeff explained, their previous system was Excel-based and relied on an archaic BI tool, making data access difficult:

“Everything was Excel based… it was hard to get at the data and drove you to data dump and live in the Excel environment.”

Catalyst® emerged as a tailored solution that addressed their specific needs.

The switch to Catalyst® allowed Sweet Harvest Foods to transform its sales organization, empowering its sales team to be “CEOs of their customer sets.” Jeff elaborated on the benefits:

“…allowing them to understand everything from gross to net sales, understanding their trade and their discounts and deductions, allowance, rebates that all flow through their customers.”

The ease of use and adaptability of Catalyst® were critical factors in winning the organization’s trust:

“…the biggest selling point for me is the ease of use, which drives user adoptability rate or success rate much higher; it sticks.”

Catalyst® also elevated the sales team’s understanding of their business and drove growth in the right areas. Jeff emphasized the importance of industry experience in FP&A, accounting, or finance for making informed decisions:

“…having backend experience or experience in the industry and being in that FP&A seat, accounting seat or finance seat prior… huge on the front end for sure.”

Also, the customer RFP process has been significantly streamlined with Catalyst®. Jeff described how the process has improved:

“When I first joined, [it] could be an hour to 90-minute conversations… reduced to minutes… now with the system in place… there are only four to five questions that need to get asked… the answers to those questions are the first five things we talk about in the first five minutes.”

In summary, Sweet Harvest Foods’ journey and the valuable insights shared by Jeff Jacobs inspire other businesses to explore and adopt innovative solutions like Catalyst®.

Companies can significantly enhance their operational efficiency and boost profitability by addressing their unique challenges.