Slinkskins was established in 1968. It produces high quality skins from New Zealand slink lamb and calfskins, supplying leading fashion houses and glove makers around the world.
To help look after its almost 4,000 farmer clients, the company had been using Intech solutions for 20 years, says Slinkskins Chief Financial Officer Lesley Smith. “We persevered for so long with Intech, because it had been especially written for us. I had it in the back of my mind that we needed a new system, but felt it would be such a major project, both financially and time-wise.
“However, the knowledge for Intech was getting diluted, as no one was using it anymore and then the person who had been looking after us retired. So, it was time to bite the bullet and do something different.”
Slinkskins Ltd came across a local Invercargill company, Focus, after completing an RFP process to find the right software package to suit the needs of the business.
“We looked at four or five software solutions quite closely,” Lesley says. “I attended a Focus presentation, which was really beneficial. We were really impressed – it gave me an insight into what they had to offer and made me realise that they might be exactly what we were looking for. We also really liked the fact that they were local.
“So, we signed them up in December 2013 and started the implementation process. We also needed better internet access and a more cost-effective hosting service, so we moved everything over to Focus. We went live on July 1, 2014 and have just completed our first financial year with them.”
Slinkskins Ltd has a network that runs through the South Island, collecting the slink lamb and slink calves during lambing and calving season.
Its tannery, situated in Thornbury, deals with the skins through the process of salting, pickling, crusting, tanning and colouring, to produce a finished product ready for export. The company’s export slink calfskins go to tanneries in Italy, and the slink lamb skins mainly go into fashion houses in Italy and the rest of Europe.
Slinkskins was started over 40 years ago by ex-All Black Jack Hazlett, and now boasts a core staff of 35 – which grows up to 200 during lambing and calving season.
Lesley has been part of the team for 13 years and says the secret to the company’s success is moving with the times. “The farming environment has changed since I first started. We were doing a lot of slink lambs and very little calves, but as the dairy industry has grown, we’ve had to move with the times and develop the calf market.
“Also, because the product we are selling is a fashion item and goes to all of the fashion houses in Europe, they don’t want to be producing the same garment year after year. So, we’ve had to constantly develop new colours and new finishes. In this market, you have to keep changing.”
Lesley says the new system has improved almost every aspect of the business. “It’s just so much better with EXO. For a start, because we are dealing in square foot measurements of our products, the Focus team modified the programme for us so that the stock system recognises this. Previously, we had to do this manually, so it has greatly improved the way we do things.”
She says another beneficial feature is the collection module. “This module, which sits alongside MYOB EXO and effectively talks to it, has greatly reduced the workload of the administrator.
“Another pain point we had was around our manual sales order system. Now, the order goes into the system, and all the information is right there at the start. That makes it so much easier for the dispatch and shipping people, because the information and pricing is stored against the customer when the order is first generated. We didn’t realise how much easier it would be with this system.”
As the business uses a wide range of chemicals for the tanning process, the new stock system is fantastic, Lesley says. “It’s so much easier now that the chemical stock is integrated in with the stocking creditors. All the pricing is there – you just have to change your quantities. So, during the stocktake at the end of the month, it’s quite a seamless process.
“Also, it’s the simple things – such as the cashbooks are all integrated. Previously, we had cashbooks that had to be separately journalled into the general ledgers. The team also created an add-on application for me, so I’m able to transfer stock easily and access reports from the system.”
Focus Account Manager Paul Dwight says as they moved through the process, Slinkskins became aware of the all-round capabilities Focus offered. “It made sense for them to have everything all in one basket, with us. And, being local, Lesley enjoyed the personal interaction with us – just being able to just drop in and discuss ideas and concepts over a coffee.”
Further during the early part of this engagement with Slinkskins, Focus became aware of a couple of manual processes that were causing particular challenges to the Slinkskins business.
“Slinkskins had manual process for Stock Reclassification and Collections, so we developed two specific applications which reduced the need for the manual collation of this information, and automated the data being populated into MYOB EXO Financials.”
Paul says the project was very successful and the ongoing services they provide includes cloud-hosted services – MYOB EXO Financials and Payroll, Email, Document Management, Stock Reclassification, Collections; as well as a fibre delivered internet service, general IT support, and consulting services.
“Focus is a one-stop shop for financial systems, application development, consulting and design, internet and WAN services, IT support, networking services, and cloud services."
Lesley says the Focus team were “brilliant” to work with during the implementation process. “Our administrator Maggie had been using Intech for over 20 years with us, and Focus were really good at sitting down with her and talking her through different scenarios and solutions – as well as coming up with what we needed to improve our business processes at the same time.
“I was a little apprehensive going into it, because implementing a new computer system is such a big process,” Lesley says. “However, Focus made it really enjoyable because they were so good to work with. They steered me through the process, and they took the time to come out and understand the business, get a feel for what we are doing and trying to achieve. We also had fantastic training and ongoing support.
“It started with a software project, but really, they’ve delivered on the whole package.”
Chief Financial Officer