This month marks a major milestone for two of the industries best-known brands – labels and packaging manufacturer OPM Group and MIS supplier Tharstern, who are celebrating 20 years of partnership. Both companies put their successful relationship down to great communication and a shared mission – to invest equally in both people and technology.
Tharstern CEO Keith McMurtrie refers to this mind-set as ‘being bionic’ and believes it has been the cornerstone of their successful partnership, “The most effective companies doing business today are the ones who’ve recognised the power of being bionic. They’ve invested in their people and culture, and they’ve invested in the continuous improvement of their technological workflow. They’ve also made sure they have the strategies and processes in place for these two assets to work together. This is very much how we operate at Tharstern and we’ve always had a kindred spirit with OPM Group.”
Both companies have been around since the early 1980s, but they first came together in 2001 when OPM invested in their first MIS solution. OPM’s Managing Director, Chris Ellison, had a vision to significantly improve efficiency by setting up one of his three production facilities as the administrative centre to control the whole group. He also knew that he would need to use technology to achieve this vision. So an MIS solution seemed an obvious choice to Ellison. After an initial period of assessment, they went with Tharstern, believing this was the best MIS solution to deal with their multiple sites.
Ellison, who is also President of FINAT, recalls that the implementation project did present them with something of a learning curve, “When we first put in our new MIS, we underestimated the commitment required to really get the most out of an MIS solution. This meant initially we went for some reporting and organisational quick wins, with training on the go, so we did not make the most of the opportunity to benefit from all the tools available to us.
A few years later, when OPM embarked on a major upgrade to their IT systems including their hardware, network and MIS we adopted a different approach. It was, Ellison says, like starting again. Co-owner Susan Ellison took charge of the project, creating a training room with a dedicated server so they could run demo programmes using their own data. Training groups consisted of one or two people from each department, effectively allowing the business to carry on running as normal.
Charlotte Ellison, Commercial Director at OPM, played a big part in this transition too, “We definitely learned from our earlier experience. We also learned a lot about communication and how important it is to keep a constant line of dialogue open with your MIS supplier.”
OPM Group is a rather unique company in the converting sector, an independent family business that focus on a vision of continued growth, lean automation and innovation, whilst still offering an individual approach to every customer. They have done this by investing in the right technology with the right people and ensuring these two things work well together, so they can continue to deliver the wide variety of products and services that their customers value so much.
That is one of the main reasons why OPM are constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting with the latest technology. Their latest adventure is a new digital press and digital finishing equipment, both of which they plan to integrate to their MIS-driven workflow to reap the competitive advantage that will bring.
“Technology is such an important part of a business these days and it’s constantly changing, so you have to put the effort in and evolve with it,” says Charlotte Ellison. “It’s essential to develop a good relationship with your MIS provider - you need to have a vision, and you also need to put in place the technological support to achieve that vision.”
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that OPM have further technology projects on the go already, including their recent transition to Tharstern’s intelligent estimating tool Estimate PRO, and future plans to introduce a web-to-print system for their smaller customers.
“Our business will keep changing and evolving all the time, it has to,” said Chris Ellison “and when we identify a new opportunity to do that, we know we can rely on Tharstern to help us take advantage of it. Tharstern has helped OPM streamline and automate production and business work?ows for the last twenty years. Together we have both grown in size and industry knowledge, with each of us assisting the other with development.”
“The partnership we have with OPM has been fantastic for us too,” says McMurtrie. “They’re always happy to give us feedback and let us pick their brains about the intricacies of the converting sector. They’re just a fantastic company to work with and I know that we have people here at Tharstern that have made friends from this partnership, which I think says a lot. I’m definitely looking forward to another 20 years of working with them!”
For more information, visit the website. https://www.tharstern.com/ and https://opmgroup.co.uk/