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Gehl’s Achieves Growth and Continuous Improvement With Aptean Solutions


Explore Food & Beverage ERP

Gehl’s Achieves Growth and Continuous Improvement With Aptean Solutions

16 Jan 2024

John McCurdy
Nacho cheese sauce, drizzled over tortilla chips.

At Gehl Foods, LLC (Gehl’s), nacho cheese is the name of the game. What began in 1896 as a three-room creamery selling a unique “renovated” butter to local bakers changed gears in the 1960s to focus on sterile, non-refrigerated dairy products and now sells its flagship cheese sauces to restaurants, convenience stores, movie theaters, concession stands and cafeterias across the U.S.

More recently, the larger family of businesses—Gehl Food and Beverage Companies—has grown through the acquisition of California Natural Products in 2018 and establishment of Gehl Food & Beverage Southeast in 2022. That’s allowed the organization to diversify its offerings and leverage its aseptic manufacturing technology to branch out into coffee, tea and other ready-to-drink beverages.

But the corporate and manufacturing facilities in Germantown, Wisconsin, remain dedicated to the primary product lineup, along with complementary offerings like tortilla chips and sauce dispensers. The business has cemented itself as a leader in its niche, and the organization’s enthusiastic and prudent approach to digital transformation has been a significant contributing factor in its success.

As vice president of IT at Gehl’s, Brian Jahn has perhaps the most complete perspective on how the company’s Aptean solutions—which include enterprise resource planning (ERP) and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) software, as well as the Smart Hub automation engine—have facilitated continuous improvement and growth. We sat down with him to hear his thoughts on the tech stack and its impact.

Using Aptean Solutions To Solve Operational Challenges

When the decision was made to implement Aptean ERP back in 1999, Gehl’s took a significant step forward by moving past a homegrown solution and securing industry-specific functionalities. Those included integrated electronic data interchange (EDI) features that are necessary for dealing with larger clients in the food and beverage industry, as well as procurement and production planning tools.

“Without our Aptean ERP, we wouldn’t be able to meet the challenging requirements of our customers, especially the major retailers,” Jahn said. “We also wouldn’t be able to source the right materials at the right times to make the right products. We just wouldn’t be able to regularly accomplish those things without Aptean.”

On the manufacturing side, Aptean OEE has helped Gehl’s boost productivity by providing real-time process performance tracking and aiding in root cause analysis to identify the reasons behind delays and scrap. That’s helped the business boost output and meet an increasing order volume, which has kept the organization financially robust.

“Aptean OEE allows us to have visibility across all of our manufacturing lines so that we can understand where there are opportunities to reduce downtime, minimize waste and really increase efficiency across our plants,” said Jahn.

Meanwhile, Aptean Smart Hub has enabled the creation of powerful and convenient automations that save employees time on tedious manual tasks while also standardizing processes that might otherwise be susceptible to human error or issues of memory. The integrations between platforms that the system offers help to keep Gehl’s operations humming along and the company on an upward trajectory.

“With our Aptean solutions, we’ve been able to significantly grow the business,” Jahn said.

Continuously Improving and Iterating on Processes

For a short period of time after the original rollout of Aptean ERP, Gehl’s used the solution only to support sales and shipping for its largest customers requiring EDI for transactions. Jahn and the rest of the leadership team never planned to stop there, though, and have since deployed additional functionalities that have transformed and enhanced internal procedures.

“Certainly our processes have changed over time. We’ve implemented various modules of the solution over the years that we’ve been using the system,” said Jahn. “Some of the most significant changes to our processes are around the ways that we plan production, receive incoming materials and maintain visibility into our inventory across our facilities.”

Aptean Smart Hub has freed up employees to concentrate on more mission-critical responsibilities by taking care of many routine communications and record-keeping activities, which helps Gehl’s make the most of human resources. Plus, our OEE solution has afforded the organization’s decision-makers with a clear view into what’s working well with how lines are run and what stands to be improved.

“With Aptean OEE, we really have insight into our manufacturing operations that we didn’t have before,” Jahn said.

Partnering With Aptean’s Customer Success Teams

One of the keys to Gehl’s getting as much out of its software setup as it has and will in the future is the collaborative approach that Aptean takes with each of our customers. From assisting in the creation of a project roadmap to working through implementation together and delivering excellent customer service experiences with each interaction, we’re proud to serve as a long-term partner for our clients.

“Our experience with the Aptean customer success teams has really been positive,” said Jahn. “They’ve helped us solve a number of different business challenges, whether that’s been implementing additional functionalities like EDI or helping to address any questions we have about our solution.”

Whether it’s filing a service ticket for the quick resolution of an issue, touching base to understand the capabilities of their systems or exploring options to get even more value out of the technology, Gehl’s personnel have confidence that reaching out to Aptean will get them the answers and results they need. Our dedicated professionals are always just a call or email away.

Sharing Advice and Looking to the Future

Going forward, Gehl’s is equipped with the purpose-built solutions it needs and backed by an outstanding provider willing to go the extra mile to offer support and ongoing improvements. Looking back on the digital transformation journey and what made it so worthwhile for the business, Jahn points out the value in knowing what you want from the process and ensuring you take the steps necessary to achieve those goals.

“The key to success that I would share is to focus on the outcomes, then prioritize and execute,” he said.

It also helps to work with a software company that truly knows your industry inside and out, and that’s definitely the case for Aptean with the food and beverage market. Our team has decades of collective expertise in the space, which has afforded them an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges and best practices to overcome them, and used that knowledge to develop a truly optimized system.

“Aptean provides a scalable and stable solution for the management of a food and beverage business,” Jahn said. “As we look to acquire additional companies and continue to grow our business both organically and inorganically, the Aptean ERP platform is one that we’ll look to expand into those facilities.”

Aptean has also been honored to receive recognitions from prestigious third-party organizations for the value and performance of our solutions, as well as our commitment to our clients and the food and beverage world at large. Frost and Sullivan gave us its 2023 Customer Value Leadership Award for North American Food & Beverage ERP Software, while The Software Report ranked us 30th overall on its Power 500 Software Companies list.

If this compelling customer story and Gehl’s digital transformation powered by Aptean has piqued your interest, feel free to reach out to us today. You can also request a personalized demo at your convenience.

Aptean Food & Beverage ERP Customer Success Stories

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Sandwich stacked with toppings.