Sphere One

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“With SYSPRO ERP, we now have a more accurate projection of materials requirements, what those supplies cost, and our total cost basis for fulfilling contracts for our various industry customers. This lets us do four things: better control our materials purchases, know what’s going to be left in inventory after fulfilling jobs, streamline our production schedule, and predict our financial needs and profit margins.”

– Stacy Filippone, Accounting Manager, Sphere One

The Company

In today’s world of heightened sensitivity on the environmental impact of people and industry on the planet, Sphere One of Chattanooga, TN, provides a powerful example of innovation, business success, and social responsibility. By repurposing coal ash waste from sources like utilities, Sphere One’s engineering genius produces high-value filler products that are in high demand in a wide variety of industrial products: home and business building materials, road construction, industrial parts, agricultural compounds, and chemical formulas to name a few.

The company’s unique “microspheres” are produced and sold in various forms, but are universally acclaimed for being lightweight, impact resistant, anti-shrink, thermally sound, and environmentally friendly. Outside of Tennessee, the company has additional operations in Jefferson, IN.

The Challenge

In 2013, Sphere One management decided to take the leap to a major ERP solution after years of trying to manage its financial and operations requirements via Peachtree (now Sage 50 Accounting). The company was struggling for better controls, process management, and operational visibility on multiple fronts: materials costs, total production costs, inventory management, production scheduling, financial performance projections, and predictable profit margins.

“For years we tried to make due with an accounting-only system that is not well suited to manufacturers and left us with a lot of guesswork on the cost side of both materials acquisition and related production processes and outcomes,” said Stacy Filippone, Accounting Manager at Sphere One. Filippone explained that the company was forced to answer questions with a lot of guesswork and not a lot of accuracy.

Sphere One looked at various ERP providers and narrowed the list to SYSPRO, SAP, and Mass 500 (now called Sage ERP 500). Ultimately, Sphere One selected SYSPRO ERP for its flexibility and customization capabilities that were expertly demonstrated in the selection process.

The Solution

Sphere One says its move to SYSPRO has been a business game changer after deploying a full suite of ERP modules from SYSPRO, including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Inventory, Purchase Orders, Sales Orders, Work-In-Progress (WIP), Bill of Materials (BOM), General Ledger, and Shipping.

SYSPRO began running live at Sphere One in 2014 and has made a strong positive impact on the manufacturer’s performance. The operational visibility issue that had challenged the company was removed through material and product traceability, improved processes, and the reductions in manual input errors tied to raw materials availability and product inventory.
Filippone explains: “With SYSPRO ERP, we now have a more accurate projection of materials requirements, what those supplies cost, and our total cost basis for fulfilling contracts for our various industry customers. This lets us do four things: better control our materials purchases, know what’s going to be left in inventory after fulfilling jobs, streamline our production schedule, and predict our financial needs and profit margins.”

The Result

Today the company is in full control of not only its day-to-day operations, but also in its ability to consider future possibilities for the company based on 100% visibility into the data and business processes company’s operations. Since implementing SYSPRO, Sphere One has realized at least a 20% improvement in its materials and production cost basis and is also at least 20% more accurate in its knowledge on supplies, shipped product, and available inventory.

With better knowledge on materials usage in each stock code and the ability to more accurately and profitably quote projects, Sphere One felt comfortable making recent capital expenditures to invest in new machinery, piping delivery structures, and process improvements. Sphere One is even extending its manufacturing grinding capabilities to provide product for other companies to resell. Filippone said, “We made the right ERP choice for Sphere One,” and explained that without SYSPRO ERP, these kinds of company improvements and growth opportunities would have been difficult to do.