Poultry Processor leverages long-term relationship with Aspen Systems



Koch Foods
Stewart Ward, VP of Information Systems

Koch Foods traces their humble beginnings to 1985, when they were a one-room chicken deboning and cutting operation with 13 employees. In 1993, Koch had grown to a thirty-five million dollar per year operation. The management at Koch decided that, in order to grow the business, they needed to invest in technology that would provide them information to help mold their decision making. Koch Foods quickly became one of the leading users of Aspen’s software. As Koch’s COO, Mark Kaminsky, began to see the return on investment from having real time information that was positively impacting multiple areas of the business, he decided to take that investment to a new level. Aspen and Koch developed a partnership to further develop the software. Stewart Ward, Koch’s VP of Information Systems, assumed responsibility for coordinating the further development. Stewart would provide the project specifications that Aspen would translate into programming customizations. This partnership would allow real world solutions to become a reality and Koch was able to realize substantial operational cost savings.

Building FP.jpgKoch continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Through strategic acquisitions, Koch had expanded its organization beyond its Illinois borders, purchasing facilities in Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama and Mississippi. With the purchase of each new company, new databases needed to be set up and data had to be converted. Both organizations became so adept at this process that following Koch’s acquisition of two Tyson Foods’ facilities, they were able to accomplish the entire conversion within an eight-week period of time. This was quite an accomplishment when you consider that every piece of technology in these facilities needed to be replaced and the two complexes housed approximately 1500 employees with more than 80 users of the software.

When Aspen Systems released Canopy, Koch was growing so fast that changing platforms from Aspen’s legacy software solution to Canopy was not even a consideration. As time went on, Koch decided that it was necessary to devote the resources to upgrading their ERP software. Although Aspen’s legacy software had served them well, it was time to address the daunting task of replacing technology. In spite of the great relationship between both organizations, Koch made the decision to go out and research all of their options. After all, Koch was no longer a thirty-five-million-dollar company, they were now exceeding two billion dollars annually in sales.

PDRM0839.jpgStewart spent the better part of a year researching software solutions often associated with large companies; these options included Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, and Epicor. This was in addition to an in-depth review of Canopy. After numerous hours of due diligence, the decision was made that Canopy and Aspen Systems was still the right choice for Koch. According to Stewart, this decision was primarily based on the following factors: the already proven relationship with Aspen Systems, the ability to move years of data easily into Canopy using Aspen’s conversion utilities, the cost to value ratio comparing Canopy’s cost to the cost of the other software products, and the fact that Koch could leverage the line of business rules developed over the years directly into Canopy.

Once the decision was made, many hours were spent creating a tactical plan to carry out the migration. Keeping the project on schedule required meticulous preparations, with numerous hours of testing and refining of procedures. The effort was truly a team approach with dedication from both sides ensuring the success. Once they were live on the software, Koch became a major contributor to Canopy’s further development. Koch guided the design of the Order Fill Queue and greatly expanded Shipping Container functionality. The Order Fill Queue is a cross docking function that has saved them an enormous amount of labor. Using this with Shipping Containers has given them a lot more control over their orders as they are being built, thus improving efficiency and accuracy. They helped with the design of Real Time Routing and In-transit Warehouse transfers. Koch has also been instrumental in aiding Aspen’s QA processes and ensuring that new releases of the software have been thoroughly tested and are reliable. They worked side by side with Aspen’s QA and Development departments to develop regression testing and helped with the establishment of a main build path in an effort to perfect the upgrade process. They make use of, provide feedback on, and help expand Canopy’s Web Service API endpoints. In short, they have been a true partner in Development. Aspen’s customer base continues to benefit from these features which are all standard in Canopy.

Aspen Systems takes great pride in its role of providing technology solutions for Koch. They are an American success tale. Today, Koch employs around 12,800 people and their annual revenues are nearly 4 billion dollars. They operate out of 21 facilities located in 7 different states. These facilities span the entire supply chain, from feed mills, to hatcheries, to harvesting plants, and further processing plants. Their success has been found in providing high quality food products that bring value through competitive prices and distributing them with outstanding customer service. This philosophy has served them well, as they have grown to be the fourth largest chicken producer in the United States, processing more than 2.55 million birds a day. Their product line includes value added prepared, gourmet, specialty, frozen and controlled vacuum packaged chicken products. They are a leader in technology from the production floor to the executive suites.





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