Truffles are striped with white chocolate at Euphoria’s warehouse in Eugene. [Kelly Lyon/The Register-Guard]
When Van and Bonnie Glass bought Euphoria Chocolate Co. in 2013, it took some time for them to isolate the operational elements that they wanted to improve. But by 2016, they had a clear idea.
“We knew that there were some issues that we needed to address in regard to inventory control,” says Bonnie Glass, “and a few other things. But we thought inventory control was really foundational to some of the other issues.”
Van Glass had attended a professional training event, Bonnie recalls, where he learned about the Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership (OMEP).
OMEP is one of more than 50 manufacturing extension partnerships in the country to receive state and federal funds to provide support for small and midsize businesses, helping them to grow and compete globally.
Often, the extension partnerships assist businesses that don’t have the resources to make the efficiency improvements that can streamline the production process, such as Euphoria Chocolate Co.
The Glasses applied to work with OMEP.
“They were able to help us establish inventory controls using a Kanban system,” Bonnie says. The system uses color-coded cards to track production minimums and maximums. “It allows you to more easily manage your inventory and understand your inventory turns. Ultimately, you’re able to run leaner and meaner.”
Another goal the Glasses refined with OMEP support was a shift from contracted sales to an in-house sales staff.
“We were able to crunch the numbers,” Bonnie says, and using contractors “wasn’t offering us the kind of growth that we wanted. We felt it was a good choice to move that in house.”
Since the implementation of OMEP’s strategies, Euphoria Chocolate Co. has seen a 20 percent growth in overall online sales and a “significant improvement in inventory accuracy,” Bonnie says. Also, local jobs that were created in the process have been maintained.
Other benefits? OMEP made training accessible and affordable both in food safety compliance and in social media.
With OMEP, Bonnie says, “The one thing you have to be willing to do is work hard. Your OMEP consultants are ready and prepared. They’re willing to ask hard questions and have you look at your business and ask yourself, what is it that I really need? What really has value for me? What is going to give me a return on this investment that I’m making? They help you to decide what works best for you.”
The Eugene contact for Oregon Manufacturing Extension Partnership is senior consultant Mary Craighead, omep.org.