Trailblazing Triumph: Feathered Friends Flocks to Success with Odoo

Location/Region: Seattle, WA

Industry: Manufacturing/Outdoor Gear

Apps implemented: Inventory, manufacturing, sales, accounting, purchasing

Number of users: 6

Company size: 50+

Hosting type (On-premise or Odoo online):

Out in the wilderness, encompassed by the harsh elements of a mountainous terrain, nothing matters more to an outdoorsman than the gear they carry with them. Freezing temperatures and biting winds demand warm, insulated, high-quality outer apparel and sleeping bags, in order to successfully weather the challenging conditions. Hikers, backpackers, and mountain climbers know firsthand the importance of these items, and since 1972, have turned to Feathered Friends as a reliable source to find what they need for their next adventure.

Founded by Peter and Carol Hickner in a basement in the Pacific Northwest, Feathered Friends makes and sells functional outdoor gear that is designed to last a lifetime. In addition to its originating product - sleeping bags - that are now also its most popular, the company produces other down-filled products such as jackets, vests, pants, and bedding. It also sells non-down items, such as climbing equipment, footwear, tents, and backpacks, among other accessories. Now run by the couple’s daughter Juna, Feathered Friends prides itself on both being a family business and keeping its manufacturing in the North American region. 

Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket 

More than 50 years after its creation, the company continues along its path of success, introducing new products to its website and reaching new outdoor enthusiasts with its high-quality pieces. In order to manage their daily business operations, Feathered Friends turned to Odoo for an integrated solution that would help make their old workflows more efficient.

Navigating the trail of sleeping bag production

Being a fairly small company, Feathered Friends once relied on older software and Excel spreadsheets to operate its business and track its manufacturing. Garrett Nixon, Chief Production Officer at the company, explains that, after 50 years, the business had outgrown the largely manual data-keeping method it had been utilizing, as well as the older software it had installed. At the time that Garrett came across Odoo, he had been searching for “anything to handle our manufacturing. Basically an MRP solution is what we were looking for– a way to process customer orders, manage production, track our raw material usage, things of that nature.”

Feathered Friends’ manufacturing process for their down-filled products is unique, and therefore requires a more robust management system. Rather than fully assembling products before they’re sold, their manufacturing team assembles items halfway and then waits for a customer to purchase them before they complete the process. Using their popular sleeping bags as an example, the outer shells are sewn, stored empty and unstuffed, and then filled with down feathers only once the unit has been purchased by a customer. This order is critical in the company’s manufacturing and storing process, since a sleeping bag filled with down takes up close to 10x the amount of space as its un-filled counterpart. Garrett emphasized the need for Feathered Friends to have software that can track and manage this process accurately. “There weren't a lot of solutions out there that were going to work seamlessly with our system, and Odoo definitely gave us that flexibility.”

Feathered Friends' Winter & Expedition down sleeping bags 

Furthermore, the company had transitioned the majority of its sales to Shopify, and also had a retail location that used Shopify’s point-of-sales (POS) system. With this in mind, Garrett was looking for a business solution that could integrate with their sales process as well as their manufacturing process. After his research led him to Odoo, Feathered Friends decided that this was the best solution for the company’s specific needs.

Peak manufacturing performance with Odoo

Within 4 months of getting started with Odoo, Garrett estimates that about 90% of their database was set up. While Feathered Friends had a bit of a bumpy implementation process, the outdoor gear company is happy with where it is now in its Odoo journey.

One of the biggest benefits Garrett has noticed from using Odoo is the overall automation and efficiency of the company’s business flow, particularly when it comes to inventory:

“Before Odoo, all of our order entry was manual, and at this point, now we’re able to import orders directly. Raw material tracking is exponentially better– we were doing it on spreadsheets trying to make calculations with numbers that weren’t very accurate to begin with. That's one of the great things about Odoo– we’re taking more periodic inventories and we’re able to refine the Bill of Materials to get our usages nailed down. It's accurate to the point that now we have a really good count and we can just go out on our floor and verify it. We’ve been learning the capabilities of Odoo and refining our processes over the last year and it’s turning out really well.” 

The Odoo Inventory and Manufacturing applications are where Garrett and his team spend the majority of their time working in the database, and they have made perhaps the biggest impact on the company’s daily operations. When asked what he would say to another business debating whether or not to implement Odoo for their needs, Garrett says that while it depends on the company itself, he has found that “for a small manufacturer, it’s been great.” 

Summiting to success with Odoo

Feathered Friends' midweight down apparel

The transition to Odoo has overall been a positive one for Feathered Friends, and bodes well for a promising future for the two companies’ partnership. Feathered Friends’ inventory and manufacturing processes are significantly more efficient now with Odoo, saving their employees the time and manpower that used to be required to undertake basic tasks such as counting raw materials. As it forges ahead into new terrains, Feathered Friends is now equipped with fully integrated business software to help it summit any mountains, big or small.

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