Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Corey Weathers, co-founder and CEO of Homegrown Trailers, has always been a lifelong adventurer who enjoys camping in the great outdoors with little amenities and access to the real world. When he had his first of two daughters ten years ago, he knew things would change, and they did. As the girls got older, he realized that there’s a lot to pack to keep the kiddos comfortable on camping trips. Not everyone is able to deal with pitching tents, sleeping on the ground and lack of privacy. As a sustainability consultant, Corey knew there had to be a better way to enjoy the outdoors with his family. After being asked by his daughter “Daddy, what if we build a treehouse on wheels?” it occurred to him that he needed to build a trailer that was capable of being off-grid, comfortable with some key amenities, and that was made with sustainable materials.
About a year ago Corey and his business partner Eric Gertsman, co-founder and CMO, launched Homegrown Trailers based in Kirkland, Washington, a social purpose corporation that produces sustainable, hand-crafted travel trailers.
As most small business owners who are starting out can relate, it’s all about finding the right technologies fast so businesses can get up and running. Eric and Corey ended up cobbling together software and hardware technologies from their personal lives that seemed to meet their immediate needs. They didn’t have the luxury at that point to think big-picture about where they wanted to be and how technology could help get them there.
With this hodgepodge of technology, they soon realized that simplified technologies and disparate systems came with limited functionality, which ultimately impacted efficiency and business growth. Corey really started to feel his productivity take a hit because he couldn’t crunch numbers or create the kind of graphs he needed to in order to make more informed decisions. When it came to hardware, he found himself buying a new device every year due to the amount of use, which is not in line with his sustainability values.
With a fast-growing small business and a goal to produce a couple hundred trailers a year, the Homegrown Trailers team quickly understood that technology would be
critical to their success and they needed to make a change. They needed a more productive, secure and robust suite of software and hardware technology that could keep up with their operational and production demands. They turned to SADA Systems to help digitally transform how they not only work with each other, but how they get work done.
As a Microsoft National Solutions Provider, SADA Systems led Homegrown Trailers through a series of discovery sessions to discuss business processes and how Microsoft technology could improve day-to-day operations. The SADA team then completed a migration and deployment, and provided training services to ensure optimization of the vast features of the Microsoft cloud solutions. After having a mishmash of technologies for a few years, the team found it refreshing to have one suite of software and hardware technologies – Windows 10, Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Windows devices. The technology works seamlessly together so the team can easily collaborate and be more productive from anywhere. This gives them more time to focus on building trailers and getting them to consumers who love them versus battling technology.
Corey and his team have been amazed to see how their communication and collaboration have grown over the last few months because of Microsoft products like SharePoint, Microsoft Planner and Skype. Because they’re a small and mighty team with limited financial resources, they need to be as efficient as possible to be a profitable company for many years to come. With Microsoft Planner, they can now assign tasks to create the kind of workflow needed for production, sales and marketing efforts. Specifically, it has helped them come together as a team on a weekly basis to ensure they are not duplicating tasks and not getting ahead of themselves with a project that is dependent on another project being complete. But, it has also helped them ensure the team is staying focused, making progress and meeting the goal.
Some of the specifics include:
- Using shared calendars and Planner, which they couldn’t do previously when using a mishmash of products. This has increased their productivity and allows their team to schedule meetings more effectively.
- All documents and folders were transitioned to SharePoint Online, which provides the team easy access to documents to collaborate in real time. Standardizing on the Microsoft platform has reduced steps for their internal processes since they no longer have to convert files back and forth from Google to Word and Excel.
- Skype for Business has been another key advantage that has increased communication and visibility across the organization. With real time presence, instant messaging and conferencing options, the team is able to stay connected even when on the go.
- With the full version of Office available to Homegrown Trailers users on all devices, they have access to more features and functionality to perform the work needed on a regular basis.
- Windows 10 machines and devices are more durable and longer lasting than previous devices, so they have peace of mind that they won’t need to be replaced each year.
- With the inclusion of Dynamics 365, the Homegrown Trailers team has a more regimented way of managing contacts, leads, opportunities and customers.
Corey and the Homegrown Trailers team drove a trailer across the country last week heading to the Daytona 500 in Daytona Beach, stopping at the SADA headquarters in Los Angeles for a meet-and-greet with our CEO, Tony Safoian. With Microsoft and SADA Systems on their side, they have seen immediate improvement to optimize operations and empower employees. Homegrown Trailers’ representatives were delighted to share early learnings while also sharing with the NASCAR community their commitment to a more sustainable future as both the auto and racing industries work to enhance their commitment as well.
Interested in learning more about how SADA Systems and Microsoft can help you with your digital transformation strategy?