Taking a Shot

By Edward Cone  |  Posted 2003-10-01 Print this article Print

The lubricant maker used to have a Brand Forress.

Taking a Shot

A year later, in January 2002, WD-40 made a quick decision when the opportunity arose to purchase the Spot Shot brand. The $35 million company was integrated into WD-40's systems within 30 days of the deal's May closing.

Unlike the previous acquisition of GHB, Freeman chose not to import three years of sales data from the acquired company. "It was too much work for too little operational value," he says. "Every time, it's different," he says. "In this case, it was too messy, so we just took their old system and put it in our warehouse building to use for financial reporting."

There were a few problems along the way that centered more on processes than technology, such as reconciling inventory it owned, such as cans, with orders shipped from contract manufacturers. "The first month or two after going live with Innatrack, were challenging," says Freeman. For example, if the company bought 150,000 cans from a can company, and 145,000 were filled by a manufacturer and sold, WD-40 sometimes could not find the 5,000 remaining cans in the system.

Knowing that large orders are frequently filled inexactly, plus or minus a thousand cans or so, and that some number of cans get lost in warehouses, thrown out for quality control, and so on, Freeman decided not to tinker with his software, but instead changed the process so that the can-maker now ships and invoices directly to the contract manufacturer.

The focus now, says Freeman, is on pushing newly packaged products into new sales channels, such as the Spot Shot product to be sold in pet stores. Like the acquired brands, Freeman expects new releases to fit smoothly into WD-40's information and business processes.

"Those new products just go right onto the system," he says. "We're flexible enough to handle them."

Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular EdCone.com weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.

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