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General Finishes

General Finishes

Batch Control/ERP Software Boosts Coating Manufacturer’s Margins & Cuts Costs


George C. Adams bought General Finishes in 1984 and since then, his customers have relied on the company’s innovative water- and oil-based stains and finishes as well as its personalized service.

  • 55,000 sq. ft. (production, warehouse, office)
  • 400 formulations
  • 500 active raw materials, 800 total
  • 700 stock SKUs
  • 1,300 custom, one-off SKUs
  • 1,000 customers
  • 33 employees


Mar-Kov Batch Control & Inventory Management Software


  • Manage growth and gain control
  • Multiple, manual purchasing, inventory, order and billing systems
  • Insecure, unprotected Excel-based formulations
  • Legacy, DOS-based software


  • Better margins & cash flow
  • 30% cost savings, 30% less inventory
  • Automates 75% of the mundane, repetitive data entry
  • 50% more time for employees to manage General Finishes
  • Diversify with new product line
  • Secure, protected formulations
  • Single MRP, ERP, MES platform (5Xs less than competitors)

George C. Adams, General Finishes’ owner, has more money in his pocket these days because Mar-Kov’s MRP, MES and ERP platform has cut costs and inventory by 30% each.
“We went live with Mar-Kov’s full suite of capabilities in 2022 to support our growth and the unexpected benefits include better margins, cost savings and 75% less admin time,” says Adam Doolittle, production manager, General Finishes, East Troy, Wisconsin, which had been using Mar-Kov’s formulations feature since 2008 and had piloted its many features through 2020 and 2021.

General Finishes’ managers now rely on Mar-Kov’s reports and data to oversee operations and drive critical business decisions that impact pricing, purchasing, inventory management and even the product mix. For example, Mar-Kov data helped inspire General Finishes’ recent launch of Enduro for professional and industrial spray applications such as kitchen cabinets and flat line millwork. Enduro already accounts for 10% of sales and 5% of General Finishes new customers.

“Mar-Kov data and reports confirmed we were retail-driven and helped us diversify into the industrial sector by identifying marketplace gaps,” says Adam.

General Finishes’ purchasing manager and the production and shipping teams all depend on Mar-Kov. In fact, Mar-Kov really proved itself when pandemic-related consumer DIY demand and material prices skyrocketed alongside major supply chain shortages and transportation delays.

“Without Markov to navigate through that, 2020 and 2021 would have been a lot harder,” says Adam.

Adam Doolittle
Production Manager,
General Finishes, East Troy, Wisconsin


On average, Mar-Kov has automated 75% of the mundane, repetitive data entry and other tasks that kept employees from more value-added activities. Employees have 50% more time to manage General Finishes! On a daily basis, managers have up to four extra hours per person to review and analyze Mar-Kov reports and data which can lead to improved operational and business decisions.

“It’s saved me a boatload of time – we can do our jobs better without leaving our desks,” says Adam. “We have faith in what Mar-Kov’s records show us – we aren’t double-checking the data, looking for reports or searching the plant for materials and finished products.”

Employees, Adam included, now scan Mar-Kov screens to plan ahead and match orders and production with available product and raw ingredient inventories. Before Mar-Kov, Adam and his colleagues had to walk through their 55,000 sq. ft. facility to physically check inventory.


Purchasing has instant, easy access to General Finishes’ 800+ raw ingredients and material costs are down up to 30%. Purchasing’s ability to manage inventory more efficiently accounts for 25% of those savings and more effective contract negotiations. Meanwhile, better managed supplier relationships account for the other 75% of cost savings. Mar-Kov creates and emails raw material purchase orders and adds them to inventory upon receipt, which frees purchasing to focus on strategy.

With Mar-Kov, General Finishes now holds up to 3 not 5 months worth of raw materials because they can forecast and plan. Employees have complete confidence in Mar-Kov’s records.

“We’re comfortable carrying 30% less inventory which is a big deal for cash flow when some of our customers are on 60- to 90-day terms,” says Adam.

With a few clicks, the purchasing manager can pull reports to review current and historical pricing as well as important data such as their solids content, pH, VOC and more. Most formulations have 6 to 40 ingredients and those prices can change daily.

“Mar-Kov shows us when to evaluate price increases and decreases to keep our margins in hand,” says Adam.


Since Mar-Kov took on all of the shipping administration, General Finishes has gained detailed, trackable, traceable data that didn’t exist in its pen-and-paper system. As General Finishes’ managers see it, a product is considered sold only once it’s shipped and received rather than when purchase orders are logged.

“We know which products are moving and what’s trending,” says Adam.

In the event of a complaint , General Finishes knows which customer received which lot or batch and when. As a quality reference, General Finishes now barcodes and keeps samples of every batch for 2 to 3 years.

“If there is a question , we have the finished product and the production and shipping records,” says Adam.


General Finishes’ history with Mar-Kov began with Mar-Kov’s formulation capabilities. In 2008, Adam, then just 22 and a new employee, had a big problem with the confidential 400+ recipes’ paper and Excel records. Anyone with access could make changes and tracking each recipe’s history and updates was a challenge. Likewise, paper recipes could be misplaced and misfiled and unsecured Excel files could be altered or accidentally emailed to the wrong person.

“Those formulations were for our eyes only but too many people had their hands in the cookie jar,” says Adam. “We need our formulations to make our products – those recipes are beyond critical – so we needed software that would keep them safe and preserve the history and accuracy.”

At that time, Mar-Kov was the only platform that specialized in recipes/formulations and let General Finishes use only its formulation capabilities. To this day, production employees use the platform the most as they’re constantly accessing approved recipes and logging the ingredients and batches they’ve mixed and poured.

“With Mar-Kov, our recipes are secure and replicable and our quality is consistent,” says Adam.

Employees appreciate Mar-Kov’s ability to securely record every recipe that’s accessible in Mar-Kov’s protected database where they can track the recipes’ evolution. Recipes are revision- controlled and only certain employees can make changes. Mar-Kov records and saves every change, as well as the employees’ identities and when they made the change. It preserves the integrity of the recipes and protects them from prying eyes.

“Mar-Kov is 99% perfect for me and for General Finishes,” says Adam. “Competitors would have cost us about $250,000 and Mar-Kov was 5 times less. On top of that, competitors are so over-engineered, we wouldn’t have used half of them.”

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