APG was started 28 years ago as a part time, one person industrial programming company. Over the years we developed into a manufacturing firm with multiple lines of enclosures and mounts for the machine vision industry. We are in a somewhat unique position in that we have created a niche with minimal formal competition.
We have seen steady growth over the years, and 2017 saw us at 5 million in sales, with 15 employees. Unfortunately, although I’m good at creation of new products and managing their production, I’m not so good at people management. With 6 or 7 employees, this wasn’t much of a problem , but with fifteen I was starting to feel the company stumble due to lack of structure and accountability. We had also let our inventory management get away from us, though I didn’t understand how bad that had gotten. I also wasn’t sure how to effectively deal with the problems I was starting to see.
Then Cogent got in touch with us, with their unique offer. Arlon came in to do the discovery process, and pointed out our need for a formal management structure and the need to get control of our inventory. He also mentioned that we may need to change accounting packages to better handle our accounting challenges. These were things I understood on a gut level, but had not quantified on paper.
The real prize, though, was having Floretta Jackson come in to do the onsite work. Rather than just doing an evaluation and handing us a set of guidelines & recommendations, Flo worked with each of us one on one to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses as well as the company requirements. She then made recommendations for a formal management structure and worked with key individuals to train them for their changing roles. She also determined that our existing accounting package had some limitations that were contributing to our inventory tracking problems. She shepherded us through the conversion process to a new package, and has been working with each of us to develop procedures to correctly handle the day to day information flow through the company.
Other major changes put in place included hiring a General Manager, allowing me to concentrate more on engineering projects, and less on the day to day company management. Flo is spending her last week onsite to assist the new GM in getting up to speed, and to transfer what she has learned about APG and its employees .
We now have complete and accurate job descriptions for our various positions, giving each employee a more formal structure to work within . I have a custom dashboard with weekly key indicators showing me how the company is really doing. We also have formalized problem tracking to allow us to rapidly get to the root of production problems, so that we can more rapidly correct them.
We have a much more accurate inventory count, and procedures in place to ensure the count and value stays accurate.
We are extremely glad to have had Cogent come in and rebuild our accounting and employee foundations. Without these improvements, I’m not sure where APG would have been in 2-3 years. I highly recommend Cogent’ services for small companies like mine.
Christopher C. McGeary
President, Allison Park Group, Inc