Newly-acquired company Louisiana Fish Fry utilizes Catalyst® to automate reporting & consolidate disparate systems into one source of truth.
Louisiana Fish Fry
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Food manufacturing and supply
“Like with other private equity jobs, my job at Louisiana Fish Fry will end when we sell the company. When that happens, I’ll be onto my next CFO job. When I accept that job offer, the first call I’ll make will be to my wife. The second I’ll make will be to set up Catalyst.“
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
Case Study: Louisiana Fish Fry
Following acquisition, Louisiana Fish Fry needed to consolidate and organize two different accounting systems into one source of truth without interrupting the processes that required the use of these systems.
- Branded food manufacturer with a broad national distribution.
- After being family-owned and operated for 60 years, Lousiana Fish Fry was acquired by Peak Rock Capital in 2018.
- Saw explosive growth via new customers, products, distribution and innovation in the years following acquisition.
- Though effective for a family-run company, Louisiana Fish Fry’s accounting systems could not adequately accommodate its post-acquisition growth.
- Louisiana Fish Fry was running two different accounting packages with completely different modified cash basis, making it difficult to find and pull accurate historical data.
- Data was in Excel but didn’t link to ERPs, making budgeting and forecasting for SKU, customers and category data highly difficult.
- The financial team didn’t have the time or resources to implement a new ERP from the ground up and needed a way to quickly consolidate data across businesses.
- Implemented Catalyst by EBM Software, circumventing the need for an ERP change while still providing a single, consolidated view of all company data.
- Guided Louisiana Fish Fry through the implementation process across a 90-day schedule, successfully setting up and teaching everything the team required within their specified time frame.
- Consolidated and automated monthly financial reporting with Catalyst, saving the Louisiana Fish Fry finance team multiple days every month.
- 90 DAYS complete custom implementation
- 2 SYSTEMS consolidated into a single source of truth
- HISTORICAL DATA access for budgeting & forecasting
- REAL-TIME ERP DATA to Excel via cloud-based Data Cubes
- 13 WEEK ROLLING CASH FLOW possible for the first time
“One of the first things we wanted to do was rid ourselves of our reliance on spreadsheets, which Catalyst accomplished.”
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
“The two consultants from EBM Software were the two best service providers I’ve ever had. They helped us implement right on schedule, and every time we threw them a curve ball, they hit it like they had seen it before. They knew exactly how to get us everything we needed.”
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
The Need for Speed
When Peak Rock Capital acquired Louisiana Fish Fry in 2018, they believed the food manufacturer had the potential to grow into a category leader. That belief paid off.
Within months of acquisition, Louisiana Fish Fry entered a period of rapid growth. “We had explosive growth across the company,” explains CFO Gary Galeziewski, “Professionalizing and investing in the company really paid dividends.”
The only problem? All that growth and expansion was being tracked through an outdated financial system. Louisiana Fish Fry’s existing accounting setup was split across two different systems that operated on a completely different accounting standards.
“Accounting was a real mess,” Galeziewski explained. “We established a set of financials and spreadsheets so we could hit the ground running, but it was a very cumbersome way to add accounts and do things.”
Galeziewski was spending most of his time searching for historical data he could dump from old ERPs into his Excel spreadsheets to assemble an accurate understanding of the company’s financial health.
“Transitioning from a family-owned company into the private equity sector requires a lot of forecasting and budgeting.” Galeziewski said, “We had been relying on a set of spreadsheets to combine data from a couple of different accounting systems – like a poor man’s Catalyst – but it was growing out of control.”
Unfortunately, the time Galeziewski’s team spent on spreadsheet consolidation gave them little time to focus on finding opportunities for new value, much less generating it. If Galeziewski was going to keep up with Louisiana Fish Fry’s continuing growth, he was going to need to substantially modernize the company’s old accounting system… even as he and his team continued to rely on it every day.
Implementation Made Easy
Galeziewski chose Catalyst after a board member convinced him the implementation process would minimize work interruptions. EBM implementation expert Simon Hoey-Burns connected with Galeziewski’s team to gain an understanding of their unique needs and priorities. Then, he built their implementation schedule:
“We use a hybrid approach to implement Catalyst,” Simon explained, “while our technology team plugged into Louisiana Fish Fry’s system and builds out the required infrastructure and logic, our business team walked the Louisiana financial team through using the tool.”
“Our IT guys were especially pleased,” Galeziewski added, “The EBM Technology guys got the hooks into everything for us. Our guys said there would be no conflicts with our existing systems. They were all for implementing Catalyst.”
The EBM team’s hybrid approach allowed the Louisiana Fish Fry team to begin learning how to use the tool without disrupting either the EBM Technology team’s set up or Louisiana Fish Fry’s financial operations:
“By the time we showed the Louisiana team how to build out their own calculations, our EBM Technology team had made sure all data integrations would point to the right place,” Simon said. “The client got comfortable with the tool just in time to use it with their own data.”
As a result, Louisiana Fish Fry’s implementation proceeded at a pace perfect for Gary’s team, even though they had to engineer customized solutions for Louisiana Fish Fry’s financial system:
“Before acquisition, Louisiana Fish Fry was running two different accounting systems on a completely different
modified cash basis,” Galeziewski explained. “We had to roll up all that historical data. But EBM still helped us implement right on schedule. Every time we threw them a curve ball, they hit it. Everything from management adjustments that didn’t reside in our ERP to historical pre-acquisition financial data – they knew exactly how to get it to us.”
“By the time we showed the Louisiana team how to build hierarchies, build structures on lists, and build out their own calculations, the IT team had already made sure everything would point to the right place. They got comfortable with the tool just in time to use it with their own, manually-entered data.”
-Simon Hoey-Burns, EBM Associate
“If you’re from the PE world, you’re used to a lot of EBITDA adjustments. We had no ability to make those in our system; they existed outside in spreadsheets. Now, with Catalyst, we’re able to layer them back into our accounts so much better.”
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
The Secret to Hitting the Curve
From Simon’s perspective, the secret as to why his team hit these “curve balls” is simple: they listened.
“I hate when implementation teams try to do ‘grand reveals,’” Simon explained. “You hear nothing from your implementers and never have the chance to show them what they’re getting wrong. Then when you see the ‘grand reveal,’ it might not be right for you at all”.
By contrast, the EBM team prioritized open, collaborative communication: “We wanted the Louisiana team to see the product the entire way through,” Simon said, “that way, when we got to the end, we’d know there aren’t any surprises.”
To achieve this communication, Simon’s team actively worked with the Louisiana team as closely as possible.
“We were in constant communication,” Simon explained, “We set up a weekly status meeting where Gary and his team could ask questions, see the direction we were going and let us know exactly what they needed.”
Constant collaboration between the teams also helped Simon account for potential roadblocks before his team were forced to confront them, ensuring implementation could continue without disrupting business functions.
“At one point, we had to pause implementation so the Louisiana Fish Fry team could complete year-end budgeting,” Simon explained, “But because we had such a responsive relationship, it wasn’t a problem. Our Technology team kept setting everything up while we waited.”
Louisiana’s team was empowered to learn at their own pace. Their feeling of ownership over the process led to higher confidence and a much better buy-in – which also led to much better retention and much more effective implementation.
“Never once did we feel like we were being pushed too much or too hard, but we also never felt like things were stalling,” Galeziewski said. “My whole team appreciated the pace that they took us through.”
Set Up for Success
Fast forward a couple short months, and Louisiana Fish Fry’s whole financial system was consolidated into a single source of truth, while business continued as usual.
“We have our whole financial package built out in Catalyst. We can do adjusted and unadjusted P&Ls. If you’re from the PE world you’re used to a lot of EBITDA adjustments. We had no ability to make those in our system; they existed outside in spreadsheets. Now, with Catalyst, we’re able to layer those back into the accounts so much better.
We can carve out data very quickly by customer, SKU, zone, segment – and even some new stratifications we didn’t have in SAP. Catalyst has given us speed, accuracy, saved time, and given us a basis to move forward with a lot of other projects.”
One of the most valuable immediate payoffs to implementing Catalyst was how it streamlined monthly reporting:
“Catalyst gave us the ability to automate our entire monthly reporting process, including our EBITDA adjustments. The whole package is in the Catalyst format, making it completely plug-and-play.”
By automating their reporting, Galeziewski’s team was able to reallocate the time saved toward budgeting and forecasting. Catalyst made those processes faster and easier, too.
“I love the forecasting tool in Catalyst,” Galeziewski explained, “A lot of analytics that we’ve been doing the hard way – like dumping data from SAP into spreadsheets – is now a matter of dragging and dropping with Catalyst’s Profitability Cubes.”
Streamlining their processes granted Galeziewski’s team an unprecedented level of budgeting and forecasting accuracy. “We have the historical data available to pull from,” Galeziewski said, “So we can forecast from the GL and on the customer, SKU and category levels.”
“With Catalyst, we can carve out data very quickly by customer, SKU, zone, segment – and even some new stratifications we didn’t have in SAP. Catalyst has given us speed & accuracy, saved time, and given us a basis to move forward with a lot of other projects.”
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
“My next job will be a PE gig as well, and I will implement Catalyst day one. I’ll never take another gig without it.”
-Gary Galeziewkski, CFO
Just Scratching the Surface
For everything Catalyst has offered so far, Galeziewski is more excited about what’s coming next.
“We’ve only implemented Catalyst in 1 of our 3 databases so far,” Galeziewski explains, “I think we’ve only really scratched the surface of Catalyst, but the early returns are fantastic.”
Catalyst has provided Galeziewski with capabilities he’s never had before. His team discovered these capabilities largely thanks to their collaborative working relationship with EBM. Simon shared one example:
“I mentioned pulling expenses out of a P&L to Gary,” Simon explained, “He didn’t realize you could do that. I showed him an example and he loved it, so we built the structure to allow their team could do it themselves.”
For Galeziewski, the most valuable aspect of the Catalyst implementation is how quickly his team was able to understand and utilize its value across operations:
The worst thing that can happen when you buy a software is it gets underutilized,” Galeziewski explained. “That’s not going to happen with Catalyst. We’re going to use this thing to grow into other areas of our operations.”
The implementation wasn’t just a huge success for Louisiana Fish Fry, Simon considers it a huge win for EBM too:
“We developed a relationship with Louisiana Fish Fry where we could talk to each other like people,” he explained. “That’s exactly what we want all Catalyst relationships to be. We’re not consultants, we’re partners.”
The best part about the partnership Catalyst and Galeziewski built? According to Galeziewski, it won’t end with Louisiana Fish Fry. “My next job will be a PE gig as well, and I will implement Catalyst on day one,” Galeziewski said. “I’ll never take another gig without it.”