Father and son software company runs lean ERP platform to help customers keep complex manufacturing on track

Batch and processing companies find the functionality worth the high price tag, according to the founder of Deacom.

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Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software company Deacom likes solving the hard problems that batch and process companies deal with in daily operations. The company's customers include mid- to large-sized manufacturers and distributors, including Yuengling, Amco Proteins, Herb Pharm, and Transtar Autobody Technologies. 

Customers like Amco Proteins use Deacom's ERP platform to manage the production of food additives. Amco has to keep track of each ingredient in the manufacturing process as well as all the steps in the process.

Batch and process companies also have to generate reports about the process beyond the finished product, such as how much glycol burned off over the course of the year. 

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Founder Jay Deakins said recently a customer asked if Deacom's platform could calculate the carbon footprint of the company's manufacturing process. This would require measuring the impact of each raw material used by the company. The same client had asked a Deacom competitor to do the same calculation.

"He told us, 'They could do it but it took them three hours, and you did it in three minutes'," he said.

Deakins said the ability to do this kind of analysis is the company's competitive advantage. 

"Competitors tend to stay out of the nuts and bolts of these processes but we seek out complexity," he said. 

Deakins started the company in 1995 with mostly discrete manufacturers in the client base. He shifted the focus in 2002 to develop software for batch-and-process companies because he realized he did well with the "problem children" who had challenging implementation requirements.

Deakins said his platform is double the cost of more well-known ERP platforms so he has to win over customers on the quality of the software.

"If you think about making shampoo, you may make an intermediate product that goes into various bottles along with other components," he said. "You have to compare the final batch with the initial ingredients, and communicating those values is very complicated.

Companies have to file regulatory documents to track each process and product, and consumer product manufacturers risk injuring people if their processes don't follow precise rules.

"If somehow you mix up kids' Tylenol with codeine Tylenol, the cost of being wrong is very high," he said.

Chief operations officer Scott Deakins, Jay Deakins' son, said one secret to the company's tech success is keeping the database as small as possible but still functional. Customers need to make decisions about production processes in seconds, not hours, so speed is crucial to success for the ERP platform. 

"These real-time calculations are difficult, especially when the data is in multiple places," he said.

Deakins said most batch and process companies are distributors as well, so Deacom has added those capabilities to the platform over time. The company's ERP system includes multiple features, including:

  • Accounting
  • Catch weight
  • CRM
  • Direct story delivery
  • Documents
  • Ecommerce
  • Electronic data interchange
  • Formulation
  • General ledger
  • Inventory
  • Mobile
  • Point of sale
  • Produce configurator
  • Quality control
  • Reporting
  • Serialization
  • Warehousing

Revamping the hiring process to scale  

Scott Deakins joined the company about 10 years ago to help his father scale up operations. At the time Deacom had less than 10 employees. Deakins said he was hiring four people per month when he started and quickly realized he needed a more efficient hiring process. He created an objective-based hiring system that relies on a set of pre-interview personality and aptitude tests and on-site skill tests. 

One of the in-person tests is writing an email to a customer.

"We want to see if they can communicate a technical problem back to a customer in a way the customer would understand it," he said.

Deakins draws five data points from these exercises to measure a person's fit for the company. 

"If someone does these tests and you show me the answers, I know if I need to interview them," he said.

The company now has more than 140 employees, opened an office in Germany in 2020, and plans to open an office in Singapore in 2022.

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...