Raw Urth: Crafting Steel-Strong Solutions with Odoo

Location/Region: Fort Collins, CO

Industry: Manufacturing/Home Design

Apps implemented: Sales, Purchase, Manufacturing, Accounting, Sales, Projects, PLM

Number of users: 12

Company size: 24

Hosting type (On-premise or Odoo Online): Odoo Online

Transforming a house into a home is a task many individuals and families will come across at some point in their lives, curating a specific style and filling the space with meaningful items to make it theirs. Part of this process includes the challenge of finding the right high-quality and thoughtfully designed pieces to fill their space. Raw Urth, a custom metal company based in Northern Colorado, aims to supply customers with products that will do just that– turn a house into a home.

How a landscaping company became a metal design business

Despite their home interior focus nowadays, Raw Urth's origins actually trace back to landscaping. Amy Sasick and her husband Stefan owned a landscaping company, focused on creating beautiful outdoor environments using stone, wood, and steel. When the couple couldn’t find someone to make the steel products they were looking for, they decided to take on the project themselves. They found a blacksmithing camp in New Mexico to learn the art of metalwork, spending a week working with steel and developing a passion for the process. When they returned home, they began incorporating this new skill set into their landscaping designs.

Word began to spread amongst their customers and builders, eventually leading them to a project where the clients wanted metalwork done inside the home. Little did they know, it would be their lucky break. As Amy explains it, “Our ignorance was the key to doing new and exciting things” with their designs. That year, that project that they’d come across by chance ended up winning Home of the Year in Colorado, bringing an abundance of attention to their business through magazine and press coverage. This propelled them away from being a landscaping company and into being a metal company. What had started as a curious challenge turned into a new, unexpected avenue of success for their business. 

Now, Raw Urth designs and manufactures metal products for the home, specializing in custom range hoods for the kitchen. Every single one of their pieces is handcrafted from start to finish by one artist at a time, guaranteeing the quality craftsmanship and unique, one-of-a-kind designs. Amy explains the key to their business: “We don’t cut corners. We do it the really, really hard way because it looks better. We feel like human energy into anything really makes the difference. You can see the difference.”

Gorgeous custom range hood in aged pewter with polished brass. Courtesy of Raw Urth Designs

Through the unexpected twists and turns and accompanying success, Raw Urth needed software to help run their flourishing business– Odoo was prepared for the responsibility.

The challenges of manual data entry

When Raw Urth first started, Amy and her husband, Stefan, were running the business out of their home. Data management was manual, and Amy was finding that the company was growing faster than their business management tools could keep up. For a while, they survived by implementing temporary solutions to workflow problems, as they arose— essentially a “duct tape” strategy. For example, when files became too big to send to clients, they got Dropbox. When they needed to pay bills and submit tax returns, they used Quickbooks. But the majority of their workflow was still conducted pencil to paper, pen to sticky note. 

It reached a point where the couple and their employees essentially invented their own elaborate in-house language to manage business information, needing to memorize codes and ways of organizing files in order to complete day-to-day tasks, such as manufacturing orders. Only individuals within the company understood the “language” needed to navigate Raw Urth’s business flow. This method required a significant amount of time to complete basic daily tasks, and also made it nearly impossible to bring on new staff and teach them the in-house “language”. 

At the time, Raw Urth was using Lightspeed for point-of-sale (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM). Amy explains that the system was “not set up for a manufacturing company”, but they continued using it anyway until Lightspeed announced that they would be discontinuing the on-premise platform that Raw Urth was using. This forced Amy and her husband to seek out alternative business software– a scary prospect for a “mom-and-pop boutique shop”, as Amy called them. The decision came down to Netsuite and Odoo, with the business owners eventually deciding on Odoo.

The impacts of a fully integrated software solution

Traditional cherry hills range hood, in rustic iron. Courtesy of Raw Urth Designs

Amy admits that their implementation process was bumpy, and “there was a whole bunch of cussing at the beginning.” The transition was complicated, transferring Raw Urth’s manually recorded data and unique management system to Odoo’s database. It took time and energy to get set up. One issue that the company faced, in the beginning, was the fact that any input errors in the database were reflected across the entire system. This differed significantly from their prior experiences, where one incorrect data point wouldn’t have a domino effect on related information. Amy recounts one specific time when they accidentally bought screws as an “each” rather than by boxes of a thousand, in turn messing up their accounting books by thousands of dollars. Integrating Odoo’s fully-connected app ecosystem, admittedly, took some time and practice to become comfortable with. But Amy explains, it was all worth it: “I am the first to admit, after all of that cussing and badmouthing because we were just a mess at the beginning, now that it’s functioning, it is a fantastic program. It really is.”

While Odoo’s fully integrated software initially caused some hiccups for Raw Urth in the beginning, that exact feature is now a driving force of productivity for the company. Amy explains how valuable it is in practice for her business to have all of Odoo’s applications talking to one another, in live time:

“I’ve been able to take some of the human labor and some of the human mistake out of it. When you’re working on multiple platforms and you are trying to move information between different, standalone programs, then you are opening yourself up for mistakes, and you're paying extra human labor hours to do that.”
The difference a few core applications can make

White kitchen range hood: custom montrose in dark washed patina, on steel. Courtesy of Raw Urth Designs

Besides the integrated nature of Odoo itself, all of the individual application features are critical for Raw Urth’s daily workflows. They use the Sales application for quotations and invoicing, as well as the Purchase application for receiving materials. However, given that they are primarily a manufacturing company, the Manufacturing application has been one of the most impactful in Raw Urth’s daily operations. In particular, the ability to create manufacturing orders quickly and easily is an ability the company was lacking previously:

“Since we are a manufacturing company, having the MOs - the manufacturing orders - is massive. We never had that before, and we, like I said, created whole ways to try to make it happen. Having that manufacturing order that we can take through all of our steps and through our processes, complete it and then get [back-end] invoicing through the sales app, I mean that is… for me it’s the manufacturing app that just makes it. And we’ve done an enormous amount of Studio fields to make sure that it hits everything we need to do. We can put in gate reviews and quality control check steps.”

Amy’s favorite application is, perhaps, Odoo Studio. She explains how she appreciates the customization ability that the Studio application gives her business, as well as its intuitiveness. Previously, Raw Urth and its employees had very specific methods with which they conducted daily business workflows; now, Odoo allows them to replicate their old process in a much more efficient, automatic way. “Studio is what I think makes it the absolute most valuable…if someone was going to get into Odoo, they can make it as small or as encompassing as they would like it to be. And through Studio, they can change and mold it to fit what they’re needing in their company, what they’re needing in their business.”

Forging forward, with Odoo

After years of operating in a manual, pencil-to-paper fashion, Raw Urth is now equipped with the functionality of Odoo’s robust business software. When reflecting on the impact of Odoo on her company, Amy explains, “I am a massive, massive believer in ‘A business is only as good as the systems it has in place.’” With Odoo’s full integration and ease of use, Raw Urth’s employees now have freed up time and manpower to focus on what they are most excited about– making beautiful, functional metalwork for the home.

Header photo credit: Peter Kubilus & Bluebell Kitchens

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