Scaling Up to 50-State Success
Congo Brands is a supplier and distributor of a variety of beverages and supplements, including Prime Hydration and Alani Energy. In just two years, the company has transformed into a big national player, growing from 40 employees to over 650 and expanding its operations into all 50 states.
But extraordinary success brings about extraordinary challenges. Max Leavey, Congo Brands’ Manager External IT Partners, and his team had to figure out a way to get every department of their rapidly expanding business on the same page, with accurate, up-to-date information accessible across all operating teams. We caught up with Max and got to learn how Congo Brands used Kintone to streamline and energize its operations.
Congo Brands’ challenges:
- Siloed teams were each using different software solutions
- Users were wasting time and productivity when getting important information
- Rapid scaling caused information bottlenecks
Stuck inside communication silos
At Congo Brands, we’re both the suppliers and the distributors of our many beverage and supplement products. We have direct relationships with major retailers like Walmart and 7-Eleven, which means we have to be active nationally. To run an operation on that large a scale, we have six major operating teams who all need to be on the same page, working together seamlessly.
Our teams were doing a good job sharing information, but only within their own silos. Each team was doing alright communicating internally via email, cloud-based file sharing and spreadsheets. However, when it came to sharing information between teams, we were facing major challenges. Nobody was sure whether they had the right version of the document or the latest information. Not to mention, we were spending so much time sending each other email requests and waiting for our teammates to reply.
We needed a centralized hub—a place where any team could consistently go when they needed the most accurate and up-to-date data.
Your apps, your way
My background is in program management, so I knew what we needed to scale our operations. We were looking for a solution that our team could customize to match our unique processes and workflows. I’m not a coder, so I wanted to go with something that our team could easily make updates and changes to along the way without having to go to a software developer every time.
Kintone was a great fit for us because with the drag-and-drop and pre-coded features, you get to design and develop your own apps that house your data and track your processes for you. The user-friendly interface also makes it easy to arrange these apps and workflows the way you want them and reconfigure things whenever necessary. While you can accomplish a lot in Kintone without any coding, we decided to work with MasKen Solutions, one of Kintone’s implementation partners, to help us get ramped up quickly and customize the solution a bit more. Working closely with the MasKen team, I helped with the planning and development of our Kintone environment from scratch.
With Kintone and MasKen’s help throughout the entire roll-out, the transition was really smooth. Within a month we had our first iteration of our custom Kintone solution built out, and to this day, we’re continuing to expand and improve our Kintone apps.
"If you need to know any information, Kintone's where you have to go for the final word on it, because if it's in Kintone, then it's accurate."
The information we need, when we need it
On Kintone, we’ve taken our teams that were previously siloed and given them a dedicated space for their work. It’s our intelligence hub; our go-to place to find any of the latest information, whether it’s product weights, measurements, important forms, training content, or anything else. Before, you would have to find someone in control of the items and email them to you. Now anyone can look up the information they need on their own.
Our most valuable Kintone asset overall is our Item Master App, which is available to all our users. We have over a hundred users on the platform across every level of management, and for everyone to be able to access the most accurate information in real time is a huge benefit.
New challenges, new needs, no problem
As we roll out Kintone across the company, we’re constantly discovering new ways to take advantage of the platform’s capabilities. Our HR team uses it to host our employee database, as well as all its onboarding and training material. It’s also the place where we keep all our lease agreements on the buildings we rent, which is in the hundreds all across the country. All that important information is stored by team or department, by category, in a smart database on Kintone.
I’d recommend Kintone to anybody looking to scale their business. The ability to tailor our platform to our needs means no matter how much we grow, we won’t outgrow the capabilities of Kintone. We can focus on the core aspects of our business and what we want to achieve without ever having to worry about whether our software can keep up.