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Case Study: Duraflame fires up growth with cloud computing

Oct. 12, 2021
The pandemic prompted us to use our fireplaces, and prompted Duraflame to ramp up automation efforts to meet demand.

Homebound during the pandemic, many of us used our home fireplaces more frequently. That was good news for Duraflame, which controls some 70% of the market share of the manufactured firelog market. It also prompted the 50 year old company to adopt new automation efforts to keep up with demand. Specifically, Duraflame needed to consolidate three disparate integration solutions onto a single-platform solution with the goal of driving security, flexibility and efficiency into their business operations.

During their peak fall 2020 selling season, the company experienced a 40% increase in B2B transactions from big-box stores and thousands of other, smaller retailers across North America. Fortunately, they were ready and able to handle this unprecedented spike in demand, thanks to a scalable platform and integration support team.

IT challenges

For years, Duraflame had been using four different integration solutions—Cleo LexiCom for AS2 connectivity and file transfers with large retailers; an on-premise deployment of IBM Gentran for EDI and data transformation; SPS Commerce to accommodate a few specialty retail customer requirements; and Edict Systems for a handful of partners that came through a previous company acquisition.

All of these systems were managed by an internal EDI team supported by external EDI consultants. The mix of technologies yielded limited visibility and no proactive control, added unnecessary hardware, software, maintenance, and staffing costs, but mostly was simply too rigid to accommodate trading partner updates or unforeseen demand spikes.

The company also struggled with timely and accurate processing of purchase orders and resolving issues within their desired 24-hour internal SLA. This directly impacted inventory accuracy, which led to delayed shipments of customer orders and potential losses in revenue. While Duraflame had a fantastic relationship with their ecosystem and superb business operations, newly appointed Director of IT John Hwee saw a golden opportunity for streamlining and operational improvements.

The solution

Upon doing some extensive research, evaluating their current vendors, and entertaining new ones, Duraflame selected ecosystem-integration technology provider Cleo, whose Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC) platform was seen as the industry’s only provider of ecosystem integration at scale, offering API and EDI integration delivered in the cloud, with the flexibility of self-service or managed services, and end-to-end business process visibility across any transaction.

Having implemented and run Cleo LexiCom to transact business with
 one of their largest retail customers for more than a decade, Hwee and his team had confidence in Cleo’s integration expertise and technical capabilities.

“The Cleo Integration Cloud platform is secure, easy to use, and highly flexible to meet our business requirements,” Hwee said. “Today, more than 98% of our B2B transactions are running through CIC, and we can see everything that’s going on. Cleo’s ecosystem integration platform and their unique blend of self-service and managed services, plus their team’s drive, commitment, and attention to detail, all made our migration easy and successful. We experienced zero problems or issues even though we implemented CIC during our peak business time, not to mention a pandemic.”

Case study: Manufacturing  

With this approach, Duraflame can process purchase orders and ship customer orders efficiently, quickly, and accurately, even as item numbers change constantly due to inventory constraints. Further, the platform’s ability to automate reference table updates means Duraflame saves hours of work by not having to manually fix EDI order processing issues, bringing far greater continuity into their critical business relationships. Furthermore, Duraflame was able to eliminate their dependency on external EDI consultants—reducing their costs and taking integration control back into their own hands.

“We’ve greatly reduced our time spent resolving issues and it’s comforting to know our systems are being looked after 24 X 7 in the cloud, so that if something does come up, we know about it immediately. Now we can typically take care of any customer’s issue within the same business day,” Hwee explained.

Duraflame’s products have continued to catch fire in the market, and 
CIC is also now supporting the company’s strategic expansion into 
the charcoal business. Duraflame recently acquired B&B Charcoal and consolidated that business ecosystem onto CIC—bringing two separate business streams together into a single system. As part of the acquisition integration, Cleo’s Managed Services team helped Hwee and his staff migrate six customers onto CIC in less than two weeks from the project start date.

Notes the firelog company, "It’s no wonder so many retailers are fired up about doing more business with Duraflame."

Click here to join John during the INSIGHT webinar to learn how you can implement these learned lessons at your facility.