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Keeping it Fresh

Tony’s Fine Foods serves up the newest mission-critical data with BI tools

Tony’s Fine Foods serves up the newest mission-critical data with BI tools
Photo by Mike Graffigna

Many of the items it purchases and distributes are what Mark Geery, Tony’s CIO, calls “perishable items, or products that need to be chilled or frozen. If we have to get them to our customer within 10 days, that’s how we classify them. And this includes some specialty cheeses and certain meats, things you would find in the deli section of your grocery store.”

To ensure these items don’t expire before they reach store and restaurant shelves, the company’s high-tech services infrastructure includes multitemperature trucks and trailers, and 20 sealed loading bays that keep perishable goods at 35 degrees Fahrenheit whether they’re in storage, on the dock or already loaded on a truck. The company tracks its products throughout their trip from receipt through delivery, using radio-frequency computers, real-time inventory tracking, automated product rotation, multiple order picking and barcode scanning.

“The owners have invested in technology throughout the company,” Geery says. “We have onboard computers in our trucks. We use sophisticated software—the same kind (a popular international shipping service) has—to schedule routing. We keep track of trucks using GPS. We also have customer online and handheld ordering, as well as laptop ordering for our consultants in the field.”

Little surprise, then, that the company decided in 2003 to deploy a packaged ERP solution to replace a homegrown Windows* on Intel-based application it had developed over many years. Although the in-house application worked fine, Tony’s thought a more structured ERP implementation would help the company standardize more of its operations, Dave Nasater, IT development manager with Tony’s says. “We were getting a little too ad hoc and felt we could use some rules.”

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at



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