Milton’s Distributing Builds a Solid Foundation for Future Growth

Seamless workflow leads to enhanced customer service

Oztera’s TeraVina solution for distributors helps Milton’s Distributing manage across companies, automate excise taxes, control multi-location warehouses, speed up order entry, and keep track of different landed cost scenarios.

If you think finding the right solution to manage all aspects of winery accounting is complex, try finding a solution capable of managing a multi-location, multi-entity alcohol distribution and third-party logistics business. Then add to the mix the need for a knowledgeable implementer who understands your unique business processes and the regulatory requirements of your business. This was the challenge facing Melissa Gordon, CEO of Milton’s Distributing, in late 2018 as she sought to meet the demands of her growing business by replacing the company’s Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly Great Plains) solution.

Time for a New Solution

The original solution worked fine for a while.  But as the business added locations and was growing every year the software could not keep up.  As revenues grew, so did the complexity of the service offering.

Milton’s is not only a source and supplier of beverages and a wholesale distributor but is also a third-party logistics provider. The company also manages complex alcohol compliance across multiple states and business units for large retail customers. Dealing with the resulting label compliance and pricing issues required the business to manage much of the work manually using countless Excel spreadsheets.

The business had two different corporate entities and multiple locations, which required four different GP databases that didn’t connect with each other directly. Each intercompany transaction was a 30-minute ordeal and as the business grew, the effort was substantial.

With all of the manual work required, staying on top of the business was a challenge.

The Search for Software

During their search for a better business management solution, the company looked at NetSuite as well as Microsoft Dynamics NAV. They ruled out SAP early on due to the problematic nature of other companies’ implementations. When they consulted others in their industry, the feedback on NAV was positive. Subsequent research into product features and functions confirmed the potential fit for Milton’s. From there, they began their search for the right implementation partner – someone who combined industry knowledge with a skilled team that was also positioned for growth.

The Right Implementation Partner

Milton’s went through the process of selecting the right partner twice. The first time didn’t go according to plan; when the initial implementers failed to meet project milestones after six months, Milton began the search for a new partner.

Oztera was the second team of NAV implementers involved in the project. Milton’s was impressed by Oztera’s prior experience in the alcohol industry and their experience working all the way through the supply chain.  They also appreciated Oztera’s depth of talent and felt comfortable Oztera had the bandwidth to cover Milton’s companies’ current and future needs.

Gordon says she learned the hard way that any software is only as good as the implementers and their ability to apply the tools in support of your unique business requirements. Implementers must be able to connect the technology with a business’s accounting and process needs.  Gordon wanted a partner who could provide sound advice as the business continues to grow and evolve. She sees the right technology partner as a critical factor in the company’s ability to achieve the business goals they have in place.

Tone at the Top

Going into this project, Gordon knew the importance and difficulty of managing change. According to Gordon, “You can’t rely only on external resources to drive the results you need. You must have dedicated internal team members. A successful implementation requires you to put your smartest people in the room with the implementation team.”

Oztera team members agree that leadership support and the right client team have a big impact on project success.  According to Mike Stallman, Oztera’s “Chief Geek Juggler”: “Milton’s had strong team players who worked closely with us on product roll out and tested our systems rigorously. They kept pace with us on the project and tested the system thoroughly.”

The Solution

Once Oztera was selected as the NAV partner, they began defining detailed requirements and designing modifications to their TeraVina solution that would support the Milton’s complex business operations. They relied on existing features, system modifications to the core NAV application, third party integrations, and industry best practices to define the optimal approach.

Key benefits of the resulting solution (in addition to core ERP and related features of TeraVina for Distributors) included:

Seamless Flow Between Entities

Now when a customer places an order, it can be fulfilled automatically from the correct entity serving that location without any manual effort or needless delays in shipments.  All intercompany transactions flow to the correct entity and impact the appropriate warehouse locations.

Proper Pricing – Revenue Components

Milton’s complex pricing includes five or six different revenue components. Prices were set based on components of product cost, including landed costs of shipments arriving from different destinations.  The new system allows Milton’s to create cost estimates and then revise them as actual costs are accumulated and entered.

Simplified Distributor Compliance

State regulations for distributors require notification when price changes are made; if a price changes in one state, the distributor must make it public and available to everyone.  As a result, for each order made in certain locations, they have to get documents signed in person. Much of this process is now automated and tracked.

Improved AP and AR Processes

Milton’s now has a more streamlined process of receiving and approving vendor invoices and paying bills, thanks to integrations with third party Accounts Payable solutions.

Managed Excise Taxes

Alcohol excise taxes can now be charged and tracked on both the purchasing and sales side of the business.

Real Time Container Management

The Container Management module allows the team to optimally configure container loads prior to shipment, provides visibility of the container on the water and helps to manage receiving processes when the container arrives.

Landed Costs (Estimates vs. Actuals)

Automated costing tools capture fully landed costs including excise taxes, duties and fees as product flows through shipping points, simplify purchase order management, and help determine load management.

Specialized Credit Holds

Credit holds by customer can be applied and managed for over-the-limit purchases.

Automatic Compliance Holds

If an item label registration has expired or the customer license is not valid, the system will automatically put the label on hold for sales to that state or customer.

Automatic Route Management

Milton’s has predefined internal and external delivery routes that are now managed through the software using defined transit times for different routes and taking into account shipping calendars and customer-defined delivery schedules.

California Redemption Value (CRV) Tracking

CRV calculations are now built into product sales pricing and tracked accordingly for beverages sold into California.

Integration with Retail Customers

Integrated EDI allows Milton’s to send electronic information formatted as required by their customers.

Enhanced Customer Service

Milton’s offers label registration as a service to their customers needing to register wine labels for sale in different states.

Efficient Order Entry Process

A new, integrated sales order tool replaces a largely manual process, and now everything flows seamlessly from PO to sales order to container, with information moving in a variety of different EDI formats to different grocery chains.

Timely Insights

The Milton’s team now has the financial visibility to make business decisions and can get directly to the underlying retail transactions that determine profit or loss.

Integrated Inventory Tracking

Milton’s inventory tracking solution is now integrated into the complete system, providing better visibility across the entire business.

Solid Demand Planning

Customer requirements can be anticipated in advance of customer requests and then optimized via the demand planning module.  The result is an efficient supply chain with improved inventory turns and responsiveness.

Flexible Reporting

Newly created and assigned NAV “dimensions” on Items and associated tax codes give Milton’s the ability to review results by state and monitor pricing at different levels of the supply chain and between companies.

What’s Next?

Now that the team at Milton’s Distributing has been able to see the impact of Oztera’s solution on their business, they are looking for more ways to improve their operations.  With better insights and less manual effort required to do their job, their teams can spend more time on innovation and customer service.  No one knows what the future will bring for this growing company or its customers, but Melissa Gordon is confident that Oztera is the right partner to provide sound advice and the right technology to keep Milton’s at the forefront of the alcohol beverage industry.