Frozen Garden is a small food manufacturer from Indiana that makes both its own healthy food products as well as white label goods for other small brands. To keep her cool while business heated up, founder Allyson Straka decided to implement an MRP system.

A small-town operation working nationwide

Frozen Garden is a small food manufacturer specializing in the production of healthy frozen food as well as ready-made microwaveable meals. Based in Valparaiso, Indiana, the company sources much of their raw ingredients from local farmers and delivers products to homes in all of the lower 48 states. 

In addition, the company does private label manufacturing for other small companies. In this, they benefit from a largely untapped niche due to most white label food manufacturers only accepting large orders, something that is out of reach for companies just starting out.

Managing a national-scale company that manufactures its own products as well as white label goods with only nine people might seem impossible at first glance. But Frozen Garden has a trump card up their sleeve.

Owner knows the value of good software

Having worked as a QA engineer at Microsoft, founder Allyson Straka knows the value of good software. While for the first few years, they used a basic recipe management system, during the pandemic they realized they needed something more powerful.

“The old system could only give us cost estimates, not calculate actual costs,” says Straka. “It couldn’t handle ingredient price changes, which started happening almost weekly.”

Unreliable cost data became a major factor in the decision to find a better system that would have allowed them to automatically recalculate precise costs as ingredient prices changed and perform detailed cost analysis. But as a food manufacturer, Frozen Garden also needed to comply with strict FDA traceability regulations.

“When the FDA comes in for an inspection, we have to be able to instantly show them which lots of raw ingredients were used in which batches of finished products, and perform mock recalls,” Straka details.

Implementation without external consultants

10 years ago, small manufacturers could not even dream about effective and affordable business management software. Today, the situation is different, with many providers offering their solutions to small players in the industry. Straka’s software background allowed her to make a well-informed decision.

“I’ve worked in software for 15 years so I‘m very picky about what we use,” she says. “And there is not much middle ground for small manufacturers in terms of software cost and functionality. MRPeasy is precisely in this middle ground.”

MRPeasy is an ERP/MRP software made for small manufacturers with constrained budgets and no IT staff, where employees often fulfill several roles. Integrating sales, purchasing, production planning, inventory, shop floor reporting, and finances, it provides small players with a toolset similar to that used by much larger enterprises.

Implementation took 2-3 months as a side-activity done by Straka and her office manager. The ease-of-use of MRPeasy allowed the company to roll out the system without hiring external consultants.

“As a software person, I am impressed with how bug-free the software is, it’s much better than the industry average,” says Straka. “The support provided by MRPeasy has also been a great help in finding the best way for us to use it.”

Efficiency is up 400%

Straka states that since its implementation, the new MRP system has played a critical role in improvements across the business. Using a centralized platform for everything from production planning and inventory management to tracking vital KPIs has allowed the company to achieve regulatory compliance, keep their costs in check, and raise productivity.

The software allows them to flag issues early on and find areas of improvement. For example, they can now proactively change suppliers, recipes, and selling prices when ingredient price hikes start jeopardizing profitability. In addition, they monitor production times and compare them to historical performance to identify and correct inefficiencies.

“When we started, we produced 200 smoothies a day,” Straka says. “Now we produce 1000 with the same number of people.”

As a suggestion to other small food producers and other manufacturers working in highly regulated industries, Straka thinks that a system like MRPeasy should be a logical step forward from spreadsheets.

MRPeasy has all the functionality manufacturers from industries such as food or pharma need to comply with FDA regulations and get to the next level of efficiency,” she states.