From Lumbering to Lounging: How Odoo Streamlined Tru180°'s Highly-Customized Manufacturing Workflow

Location/Region: Burnsville, Minnesota

Industry: Home Furnishings (retail & wholesale)

Apps implemented: VOIP, Documents, Fleet, Manufacturing, Timesheets, Employee Contracts, Barcode, Website, Marketing Automation, Email Marketing, eCommerce, Social Marketing, Appraisals, Time Off, Expenses, Project, Accounting, Sales, Point of Sale, Surveys, Employees, Planning, Appointments, Studio, Sign, Purchase, Inventory, Invoicing, Discuss, Knowledge, CRM, Contacts, Calendar

Number of users: 8

Company size: 6 full-time employees; 2 contractors

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

On a warm summer night, friends and family sit outside on a back patio, around a softly burning firepit. They exchange meaningful conversation, with everyone’s chairs turned toward each other, in companionship. This is the image Damon Brinson has in mind when he imagines how customers will use his company’s products. 

Tru180°, an outdoor furniture company, makes and sells custom, hand-built pieces to about 65 retail stores across the country– items such as tables, chairs, Adirondacks, and swings. Based in Burnsville, Minnesota, the company prides itself on prioritizing recycled materials whenever possible when creating furnishings that are designed to last a generation or more. 

The name of the business is inspired by co-owners Damon Brinson’s and Art Schildgen’s own 180° directional changes in life and work. The pair didn’t start off in the furniture industry, but rather met 20 years ago working together at a large regional bank. After they both left those positions, Art went on to work in insurance, while Damon found a profession in private law practice. While these corporate career paths proved successful, both men felt as though they were ready for something completely different. Art founded Tru180°, an ode to his own journey– “taking a step forward, but in a different direction than where he was going before.” And then, a few years ago, Damon joined Art after 13 years as a litigator. The rest, as they say, is history.

As Tru180° found growing success in the furniture industry, it needed a change from the manual, small-scale business systems it had previously been using. Odoo, it turns out, was the perfect solution.

Reaching a “threshold with growth” in Tru180°’s old business software

Before making the switch to Odoo, Tru180° was using a web-based platform called AMPTAB for its wholesale and retail point-of-sale (POS) system. Additionally, the company was using a variety of off-the-shelf office and accounting applications to run its back office and order fulfillment functions. While these systems weren’t necessarily dysfunctional, they were limited in capability and slowed the company’s workflows down. Damon Brinson, Co-owner, Chief Operating Officer, and General Counsel at Tru180°, explains the challenges with their previous systems in his own words:

“Our previous systems were essentially designed for one warehouse, one shipping method, and many fewer product options than we have now. And that fit our business when those systems were implemented. But more and more we had to use workarounds to get those systems to seem like they handled multi-warehouse inventory management with more complex products. But we reached a threshold with growth, and it was clear that we needed to find a system that was designed to fit our business, instead of the other way around.” 

As Tru180°’s operations expanded, its old way of doing things couldn’t keep up. Damon says he and Art “realized that we needed to invest in the infrastructure of our business to sustain our level of growth– both in the quantity of transactions and also the complexity and breadth of our logistics workflows.” The company began exploring several other CRM, MRP, ERP, inventory, and point-of-sale systems to address its growing needs, looking at all of the big names in the small-to-medium business ERP space.

A major determining factor in Tru180°’s decision was the high level of customization that the company offers in its furniture products. Damon knew that the business would need a robust and adaptable system to work smoothly with their current workflows.

“We eliminated some [options] right away because they couldn't handle the number of custom variations in our products. We have about a million SKUs because we offer many customizations in our furniture products. The simplest piece of furniture we make is available in 400 color combinations. Once you add different sizes, shapes, styles, and options, it's easy to get to a million SKUs pretty quickly.” 

Tru180°’s 4’ Swing in Aruba Blue (Back styles: fan, scallop, contemporary)

Upon speaking with a sales engineer at Odoo, it became clear to Damon that Odoo’s software was capable of handling Tru180°’s unique requirements in an integrated and cost-efficient way. 

“The ‘fit’ was right from the beginning. We found more creativity and imagination in our Odoo sales engineer than with anyone else we talked to. And of course, as a result, the system itself, as we've implemented it, supports all of our requirements, at a price point that no one else could get close to.” 

Manufacturing customizable furniture made easier with Odoo

Overall, Odoo has given Damon and his partner Art a better understanding of their business operations both on a granular and overarching level. The inventory process, in particular, is much smoother and more efficient now with Odoo’s software. Odoo’s Inventory application is critical for the manufacturing of Tru180°’s customizable furniture pieces, with features that track and manage the nitty-gritty details of the company’s manufacturing process, from start to finish:

“The Inventory app [is] the nerve-center of the system. For a product company like ours, where we manage manufacture through delivery, everything involves inventory: supplies, bills of material, component parts, replenishment rules, warehouses, routes... It's all there, and it supports everything else.”

Odoo has also given the co-owners more insight into which products and SKUs perform best through reporting capabilities, which is crucial for the management of their business. They can track sales of specific color combinations, as well as the profitability of specific dealers that they work with. 

40” Square Counter Height Pedestal Table

Finally, Odoo has improved Tru180°’s customer experience by facilitating all aspects of business-customer interactions, from in-person sales at retail events to automated messaging sent to customers regarding their purchases. Odoo also manages the timing and status of orders on the backend.

With Odoo managing the complex manufacturing process and workflows of the company, Tru180° can continue to grow with the knowledge that their business software can keep up with their ever-changing needs. By eliminating the need for a multi-software system and manual processes, Odoo allows Damon and Art to spend their free time the way they want to– outdoors, with people they love.

“More than anything, our mission is to create beautiful places where people can experience that kind of moment, where they can pause, contemplate their direction, and when the time is right, maybe find their own 180-degree change. These are places where families can enjoy some downtime together outside, unplugged from their devices and their work, in the fresh air, where loved ones and friends can talk and reconnect with each other.”

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