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The Top Line

Fancy Farm Popcorn was scaling up and needed automatic lot management and inventory control. With Mar-Kov Fancy Farm has:

  • Passed their next two food safety audits with a score of ‘excellent’.

  • Seamless integration to QuickBooks.

  • Implementation over several months.

  • Cost of Goods Sold, Sales, and Inventory match every month.

The truth is, when I contacted Mar-Kov, they answered yes to my entire requirements list.

— Janet Coursin, project manager.

About Fancy Farm

Fancy Farm Popcorn is 100% family owned and operated in Bernie, Missouri. Founded by two brothers, Fred and Chris Tanner. The team consists of the Tanner family, dedicated, long time employees, and neighboring grower cooperators who contract popcorn production. Since 1987 they’ve been growing, harvesting, storing, processing and packaging corn on our Southeast Missouri farm and are proud to be the first in the industry to provide our customer with kits that include everything you need for a delicious batch of popcorn.

In 2015, Fancy Farm pursued new client opportunities. They wanted to expand their market
and offer private label packages for larger customers. They concluded they could not be
competitive without first becoming progressive. This meant becoming a food-safe certified facility
and implementing formal and auditable lot traceability. To start, this was managed manually:
Hand written logs were maintained to document production events and related lot numbers as they
moved through the plant.

Lot traceability starts when the truck comes off the field and rolls across the scale. Many truckloads are combined into bins for storage and aging, usually 10-15 months. Tests are performed routinely; samples are pulled from the bins and then checked for moisture and other attributes. The trending test results will indicate when the corn is ready for process and packaging.

The plant operation begins when truckloads of cured popcorn are pulled from the bins into cleaning hoppers. Clean popcorn, packaging and ingredients are routed to the production room for process and case packing. Again, lot numbers for both ingredients and finished cases are required and tracked.


Implementing a Solution

With increase in customer opportunities, production volume also increased. Manual lot tracking started to become burdensome. The decision came quickly – a better system was needed to ensure success. Fancy Farm worked with a consultant to determine their options, propose a solution, lead the implementation. The project kicked off with a business process review and requirements analysis.

The initial requirement was a food manufacturing software package with strong lot traceability, lot-testing traceability, warehouse ease of use with barcode readers and mini tablets, integrated with QuickBooks, deployed on a hosted environment.

‘The truth is, when I contacted Mar-Kov, they answered yes to my entire requirements list’ says Janet Coursin, project manager.

The implementation phase was several months, going live July 1, 2015. Alex Koves, the project trainer and solution designer helped setup and customize the system based on the processes and reporting needs that were in place already. The user engagement was challenging because production and warehouse folks were transitioning from paper, not another system. A lot of new elements were introduced quickly.


Achieving Results

Post go-live, it was the end of month review process by accounting that drove the project to its current, highly accurate state. Every month since go live, the balances in Mar-Kov have been reconciled to GL balances in QuickBooks. The variance meant something needed research or fixing. Alex provided support throughout this phase of fine-tuning. This was valuable because he knew the Fancy Farm system. With time, the team dynamic grew in context to the system. They now see it as their tool for efficiency. Their motivation for keeping it right is high.

The success of this project is the result of several factors.
• The food manufacturing software package provides the needed features, runs reliably, requires near no
maintenance, especially with this hosted deployment. A simple statement, but
extremely valuable and important.
• The implementation service and support was personal and in context with the Fancy
Farm business processes.
• The commitment from the Fancy Farm team to keep the system correct and accurate,
continuously, ensures production decisions are made based on real business
• The users are able to update the application on their tablets, real time, wherever they
are in the plant.

After 2 years of using the Mar-Kov system, the evidence of success for this project has presented. The first two food-safe audits returned excellent passing scores. Lot traceability from warehouse to source crop field was immediately available. Fancy Farm is now working with larger customers, delivering larger volume.