EQM Industrial is New Zealand's leading food industry equipment and technology supplier, and they provide complete solutions to clients providing produce, dairy, meat, snacks, beverages and dairy to customers both locally and globally.
Their clients usually need to work against the clock. It’s the nature of the food industry. Since they need to package and distribute their products before they spoil, if anything goes wrong with their equipment, they need a solution yesterday and they definitely can’t afford any mistakes on the part of their vendors. Or, if demand is booming, they need to ramp up their operations as efficiently as possible, without disrupting what they’re already doing.
EQM has become the industry’s preferred vendor because they understand these dynamics and have developed the expertise to serve their customers in a timely and accurate fashion.
‘One of the things we work on is getting it right the first time,’ Tim Bloxham, EQM’s Sales Manager, said.
To accomplish this, EQM not only provides gearboxes, motors, conveyor belts, labelers, crate packing machines and many other types of equipment, they also design entire processes to fit into the the area that their customer has available. For example, as worldwide demand for blueberries has skyrocketed (they are high in antioxidants), one EQM client could no longer run enough of their merchandise through their packing facility. EQM designed a unique multi-level process that allowed them to significantly increase throughput in the same amount of factory floor space.
‘Come to us and we’ll help you design the best flow, the best layout to make it efficient,’ Bloxham explained. ‘We are very passionate about about getting our customer’s factories running to optimal performance.
Many of their clients need to get as much done as possible with the fewest number of employees possible. Across the food processing industry, the ability to do this is directly related to profitability.
‘The fruit and veg industry is very seasonal,’ Bloxham explained, ‘so they might run the plant for only six months. But in that six months they’re going to employ 200 staff. So we help them bring in efficiencies and automation to try to reduce the staff numbers.’
In other words, they sell more than equipment, services and expertise. From their client’s point of view, one of EQM’s best ‘products’ is higher profitability. ‘At one facility we helped reduce their staff by 30%. Our customers keep coming back to us because we’re always improving things for them. They keep coming back to us for advice because we’re always getting it right for them,’ Bloxham said.
It should come as no surprise that EQM is equally passionate about running their own business as efficiently as possible.
‘One of our main metrics is face to face sales,’ Bloxham said. ‘We used to work it out on a spreadsheet. We used to use Excel forms and we pulled information out of our accounting system.’
As is so often the case with cobbled-together solutions like that, EQM found that it was always looking backwards at past data, and they didn’t have a clear handle on what was happening in the present. They also didn't clearly understand how present activity was likely to play out in the future.
‘Moving into RESULTS, obviously it’s very visual. Either you’re in the red or the yellow or the green. So straightaway you know where you are. It’s not like we’re six months on before we know what’s happening. You’re not waiting a few months before you know. We know it every week. You know the next week.’
With RESULTS, EQM has been able to clearly understand how today's activity leads to tomorrow's success, which has had a direct impact on their success.
‘What we’ve found is that two months after a good run of face-to-face meetings, we’d see a 20% increase in what we budgeted for that month. This definitely improved our revenue.’
Tracking metrics in RESULTS often helps companies significantly improve their operations, but for EQM, the impact was much broader than that.
‘The Watercooler is one thing all the staff find beneficial,’ Bloxham said, referring to RESULTS’ company-wide announcement feed. ‘Good orders come in, and we let all the staff know. Or a client has paid, and we put that out. It’s been really good to keep people informed, and to keep the transparency amongst everyone. It definitely contributes to our team spirit.’
They find that RESULTS’ unique meetings interface keeps that spirit going. ‘We run all our meetings in RESULTS,’ he said. ‘It keeps our meetings more efficient. Having the notes from previous meetings is really helpful, like pulling goals into the meeting as well. With the agenda, you're not thinking what is the next step, it’s already there.’
EQM has found that RESULTS also helps when they onboard new employees. ‘When we do interviews, one of the things we show them is RESULTS, and they’ve always been very impressed,’ he said.
Preparing for the Future
EQM sees mostly upside in the way the food processing industry is developing in New Zealand. Demand is strong and getting stronger. ‘Fruits and vegetables is a booming industry, so there’s a lot of opportunity with this type of automation and improving their systems. That is really the growth side of the business.’
And RESULTS will be a part of their ongoing success. ‘It’s a great sense of achievement to run a business and have a good atmosphere and a good job for the staff. They enjoy coming to work.’
Learn more about EQM Industrial: https://www.eqm.co.nz/