I come from a long line of Pennsylvania Germans. This might not be obvious from my surname. But you could sure tell by looking at the family dinner table. I grew up on a diet of chicken pot pie, pork and sauerkraut, homemade soups, and corn fritters that were always fried to a golden brown.
The family favorite, however, was a dish we called “pig punch” – a simple combination of cubed potatoes, chopped cabbage, and chunks of fresh country sausage all stuffed together that my father boiled up in a big cast-iron pot.
Today, this simple recipe of basic ingredients is my specialty.
Basic ingredients have also played a big part in the success of Butcher & Packer Supply Company – a small, family-owned business located in suburban Detroit.
Trust me, there’s a connection here.
Everything You Need for Sausage Making and More
In the traditional recipe, the frugal Pennsylvania German farmers stuffed the potatoes, cabbage, and sausage into a cleaned pig’s stomach for cooking. Somewhere along the line, my father started using a commercial sausage casing instead.
The sausage casings I now need to prepare the dish are not sold at my local supermarket. But they are available from Butcher & Packer.
Butcher & Packer has been supplying both the food industry and home cooks with the best equipment, supplies, and ingredients for sausage making and meat processing since the 1930s. Its catalog runs the gamut from professional-grade knives and meat grinders to sausage-making kits and how-to books. In all, the company offers thousands of different products.
An extensive and specialized inventory is certainly a key ingredient at Butcher & Packer, but so too is technology.
In a Crain’s Detroit Business article, Butcher & Packer president Fritz Blohm talked about how software has helped the company stay viable in a changing industry.
“I basically kept up with technology and kept on moving forward,” Blohm is quoted as saying. “I started putting in a computer system back in the early 1980s.”
As the article points out, when the Blohm family bought the company in 1951, there were seven butcher supply companies in Detroit’s Eastern Market area. Now, only Butcher & Packer remains.
Always Moving Forward
Blohm continues to move forward.
When those legacy IT systems became obsolete, Butcher & Packer looked for a new system that could manage a massive inventory and eliminate bottlenecks in a growing e-commerce business.
For the Blohm family, it was important to have a solution that could integrate with the specialized blending software used in the company’s seasoning manufacturing operations, as well as with the platform supporting Butcher & Packer’s online sales. With the help of Aether Consulting, Butcher & Packer implemented the SAP Business One application.
The company’s warehouse is a good place to see the impact of this latest software technology.
Supplying spices and seasonings to the food industry is an important segment of Butcher & Packer’s overall business. So with everything from allspice to vanilla and close to two dozen spice blends, the warehouse is a busy – and aromatic – place to work.
These days it’s also more efficient. Improved reporting and access to information helps the employees better manage over 6,000 inventory items. Putting together the various blends and kits, for example, is significantly simpler with prebuilt bills of materials. And streamlined shipping processes have allowed Butcher & Packer to double the number of its shipping stations – getting product out of the door faster than ever before.
Taking the Busy Season in Stride
But perhaps the greatest business benefit came when Butcher & Packer was able to handle its busiest busy season ever without the need to hire additional temporary help. In the past, manual data entry and credit card processing could consume up to 80 staff hours a week during Butcher & Packer’s peak season. These days, 90% of this all processing is automated.
“Bottlenecks and throughput issues have gone away,” says Fritz Blohm. “There is nothing stopping us from getting things done.”
This is all very good news for Butcher & Packer – and for me too. I’ve got a big family get-together coming up. Guess what’s for dinner.
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Follow me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.
To read more about the Butcher & Packer story in this SAP Business Transformation Study
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