It’s one thing to develop a product or service in response to a need in the marketplace. It’s quite another to see it in action.
Our customers tell us horror stories all the time about paperwork, audits, and recalls. But hearing stories and walking the plant floor are very different experiences.
Mountain Man Nut and Fruit Co. invited TraceGains to do just that this week. John E. Forde IV, director of quality systems, showed the staff every inch of the company’s 46,000 square-foot plant floor in Parker, Colorado.
TraceGains is there as soon as you walk in the door – on a laptop on the front desk where everyone has to sign in – acknowledging you read the GMP.
“I like to compare it to our machines,” Derrick, a line supervisor, explained. “Would you rather just push a button and have it done automatically, or would you rather manually operate a machine on the line – pulling levers and adjusting knobs.”
Mountain Man still wrestles with paper and spreadsheets. They’re even printing out recipes, and lists of ingredients still adorn boxes throughout the storage area. But to hear everyone in the plant tell it, TraceGains has been a lifesaver. Anywhere between 20 and 25 different people are putting data into TraceGains every day at Mountain Man.
In addition to the cost – and paper – savings of tracking compliance in the manufacturing of more than 3,000 SKUs, TraceGains has allowed Mountain Man to take the fear and pain out of audits.
“Auditors can just go through the laptop,” Forde said. “They show up and say they want to be here for two days. I want them gone in a day-and-a-half.”
Forde’s been dealing with auditors for more than 15 years at plants across the country, and he learned quickly that each auditor has his interpretation of a rule. TraceGains eliminates that haggling.
Eventually, Mountain Man sees a future plant floor where everyone with a device, whether it’s a laptop, a tablet, or even a smartphone, submits data in real-time.
Mountain Man is a Colorado institution. The privately held company has been making snacks for more than 40 years. What began as a nut roasting business built on door-to-door sales of gift baskets has evolved into a manufacturing and retail powerhouse. The company has more than a dozen retail locations with sales in more than 30 states.
Another plant is on the horizon: a 22,000-square-foot facility in Englewood, Colorado, where they plan to move all of their roasting operations.
One of the company’s secrets to success has been its suppliers, especially when it comes to their chocolate products, which has helped the company separate itself from its competitors. That’s why they’re particularly excited about shopping for other potential supplier partners through Market Hub.
The snack business is much more diverse than it was 40 years ago and is particularly sensitive to changing consumer demographics and fickle demand. TraceGains lets companies like Mountain Man worry less about their paperwork to respond quickly to those changing tastes.