Starborn Industries Fastens on Visibility and Automation Solutions
Starborn Industries—its name reflects the era of the space race—has grown to become a national distributor and one of the largest importers of drywall screws in the country since its launch in 1961. It has also created its own fastener and product lines for the deck construction market.
Starborn Industries, Inc. started as a wood products company in the early 1960s. Over the past five decades, it has found its niche in offering fasteners and screws for the deck construction market to customers across the globe.
Sage Group plc offers cloud-based ERP, accounting, financial, and other software solutions. Sage trades on the London Stock Exchange and its 13,000 employees serve millions of customers across 23 countries.
As Starborn has expanded, leadership wanted to make sure the company effectively managed its warehouse operations so that transactions continued to flow each day. So the company turned to Sage Group plc, a provider of supply chain, inventory management, accounting, and other solutions.
“My focus was on improving processes and making everything as smooth as possible, including getting a better view into the supply chain and optimizing work order functionality,” says Nicolette Kavanagh, vice president of operations for Starborn.
The company also is working toward a more automated warehouse, a goal that requires tight warehouse management.
Growing Demand and Product Lines
Over the past several decades, demand for Starborn’s products has grown within the United States and internationally. Kavanagh manages Starborn’s state-of-the art warehouse and distribution facility in Edison, New Jersey. The company also maintains distribution operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, the Caribbean and Australia.
Since the late 1980s, the company has expanded its product line offerings while bringing to market its own fastener and related products, created for the deck construction market. The Heathcote, which Starborn launched in 2003, is a line of stainless-steel fasteners with color coated heads that match the colors of popular deck boards.
Several years later, Starborn introduced Smart-Bit, a pre-drilling and countersinking tool designed to match specific fasteners. Then in 2010, Starborn launched the Pro Plug System for Wood, which reduces the time it takes to install plugs by more than half, while also producing a cleaner result than is possible with traditional plugging methods.
As Starborn’s product lines and customer base have grown, so has its need for reliable, transparent warehouse and supply chain functions. That has been particularly true over the past few years, when containers became nearly impossible to obtain for overseas shipping, and the lead times for many products multiplied. The additional supply chain information Starborn has been able to glean from Sage X3, a cloud-based enterprise software, has been crucial to maintaining a steady supply of inventory for customers.
From Small Business to Global Enterprise
Sage offers a range of business management solutions, including accounting, payroll, and payment systems. Like many of the companies it serves, Sage started as a small business. It has since grown to a world-wide enterprise that offers flexible production, financial, and supply chain management tools.
Sage X3 offers capabilities in production management, including bill-of-materials planning and shop floor control. It also provides supply chain management, including purchasing and inventory management, among other functions. Its financial management capabilities include budgeting and accounting.
The approximately 6,000 customers across the globe using Sage X3 represent a variety of industries, says Rob Sinfield, vice president of product, Sage X3, and vice president of ISV success, also with Sage X3. The software provides “an end-to-end view of clients’ businesses, including their supply chains,” he says. This visibility enables these businesses to deliver higher levels of engagement to their customers.
Sage X3 also helps build resilient supply chains that can recover quickly from difficulties or challenges. In the supply chain world, resilience requires an ability to adapt to market changes, switch suppliers, or pivot sourcing strategies with minimal effort and impact on end customers. By providing end-to-end visibility to all supply chain activities, inter-dependencies, and workflows, Sage X3 helps manufacturers and distributors more effectively manage their supply chain operations.
The solution’s dashboards and visual process maps also provide overviews of these processes, as well as the ability to drill down into each part of a supply chain.
In addition, with Sage X3’s APIs and integration capabilities, companies can connect their systems to those of their suppliers, customers, and other business partners, removing unnecessary, often manual steps and reducing data input errors and processing delays.
Automating warehouse operations further expedites processes and reduces mistakes. This all helps to build resilient supply chains.
Less Word-of-Mouth, More RFPs
The approach businesses use to decide how to invest in ERP solutions has changed over the past several years, Sinfield says. Word-of-mouth has been replaced by sophisticated processes, with many potential customers issuing formal requests for information or proposals. During Starborn’s selection process, Sage demonstrated how its solutions could help drive efficiencies in the company’s supply chain.
Prior to its implementation of X3, Starborn didn’t have a full view of its supply chain. With more visibility into its supply chain, Starborn is able to give customers better information on their orders.
Kavanagh and her team also have been able to anticipate shortages and take steps to minimize their impact. That has been particularly helpful given the many supply chain challenges over the past few years.
Starborn began using Sage X3 in 2012, upgrading from a previous Sage product that was being discontinued. They began implementation in April and went live about six months later. “We were able to quickly hit the ground running,” Kavanagh says.
Among other benefits, Sage X3 has helped to provide the inventory information Starborn needs, while also enabling the company to better structure its customer database.
Sage X3 also supports Starborn’s commitment to continuous improvement, from optimizing inventory to improving work order functionality, and increasing throughput.
“X3 allows Starborn to manufacture one product and create different price points, design different quotes, or update an old quote in real time,” Kavanagh says. And while Starborn had a history of being paper-heavy, the Sage solution helped reduce that reliance.
Customers also appreciate the easy access to shipping information. Starborn provides the shipping method, company, and tracking numbers, so customers can track shipments on their own.
Over a period of several years, Starborn has moved many of its information solutions to the cloud. The transition started with Super Storm Sandy in October 2012. Cloud-based platforms can help keep systems running, even during natural disasters.
Starborn first moved Microsoft 365 and then its backups to the cloud. Next up was the upgrade to Sage X3, which resides in the cloud. In 2021, Starborn moved all its remaining applications to the cloud.
“We are now 100% cloud-based with the exception of one local application for production,” Kavanagh says. The shift to cloud-based solutions made it easier for employees to pick up and work from home during the pandemic, she adds.
Soon after the initial X3 implementation was complete, Starborn began introducing other complementary offerings, including some from Sage and others from its partners. The goal in all these implementations has been to maximize efficiency.
About one year after going live with X3, Starborn added Sage Enterprise Intelligence (SEI) from Tangerine Software. SEI is an integrated business intelligence and data management solution that helps leaders make informed decisions based on real-time data.
In 2019, Starborn began implementing Altec DocLink, a document management and process automation solution, as well as DataLinx, a warehouse management solution that works with Sage accounting solutions. In 2021, Starborn implemented Fortis Pay, a payments platform.
Sage X3 has helped Starborn increase efficiencies and “level up” to full automation to better serve customers, Kavanagh says.
Key outcomes include reducing man-hours, better inventory tracking, improved customer satisfaction, and support of the company’s continued growth. “Thanks to X3, our business has increased 50%, without requiring any increase in transactional employees,” Kavanagh says.
Starborn’s efforts to fully leverage the capabilities of X3 will continue. Kavanagh says she expects to keep improving processes, especially in fully implementing capabilities in production bills of materials and automating the warehouse.
“I’m confident that X3’s functionality and adaptability will continue to help us scale as our business grows, because there’s a lot of functionality that we haven’t yet deployed,” she says. “As a small company, it has been fun and exciting to see the ways that Sage has helped us grow.”
Casebook Study: Sage Advice
Finding a software solution that could provide automation, visibility, and process improvement as Starborn Industries increased the number of product lines it offered, while its customer base also grew.
Sage X3, a cloud-based ERP and enterprise management solution that offers capabilities in production, supply chain, and financial management.
Improved visibility, better inventory tracking, and enhanced customer service. Even as business increased by 50%, Starborn Industries didn’t have to add transactional employees.