Valley Forge Develops Automated Management System, Streamlines Business Model for 2023

March 2, 2022

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Michael and Diana Dobin
Michael and Diana Dobin

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL—Valley Forge, the largest fabric supplier to the contract/hospitality sector has spent the last 21 months with 30 of its employees developing a state-of-the-art digital system to run all aspects of its business according to company CEO Michael Dobin.
The new system will enable Valley Forge to ride the next wave of industry business expected for 2023, he says.
He shares this role as CEO with his sister, Diana who took the pandemic as an opportunity to move from her Florida home back to her native NY area – closer to the makers, artists and fashion world that inspire Valley Forge’s focus on design and sustainability. We, like many businesses today, meet virtually all the time when we are not together, her brother explains.
“Only seven percent of the world’s companies have digitized all operations like the system that Valley Forge is going live with,” says the second-generation owner of what is an $80 million business. The 40-year-old company is the leading specialist wholesaler of fabrics, bedding, draperies, and hard window coverings for the hospitality trade.
“If we are missing a component, we will know about it six weeks before the project is due,” he explains.
Vanesa Patino, COO of Valley Forge spearheaded the digital creation of the Valley Forge business. The Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina MBA graduate/20-year business executive rejoined the company in 2020 after previously heading up finance and operations there. She has a Finance and M&A background with expertise in software. The new end-to-end digital system includes quote to cash processes and expands well beyond a traditional ERP system. This will enable Valley Forge to double or trouble the business, accomplishing more with the similar count they have today. “Employee count is about the same as it was two years ago,” Dobin says.
“It almost seemed crazy to make such an investment with a decline in industry sales of at least 50 percent,” while he acknowledges a drop in sales for Valley Forge of just 25%. “We feel we have dramatically increased market share of the hospitality business this past year.”
“Business will come back in about a years-time,” he says and “we’ll be ahead of the industry in 2023 by 20 years with what we have accomplished by investing internally.”
Microsoft and eight other companies participated in building the system which cost well more than $1 million to develop not including the cost of outside consultants, Dobin says. The system can even quote complicated print jobs with one million variations of cut/sew and various styles and products, he explains. “We can look at 1,100 jobs at a time. From the moment of opportunity to quote a new job through the order production process and through to collecting, we have automated the entire process,” he explains. “The system will go live by the third quarter of 2022”, he says.
While acknowledging the decline of the overall hospitality business during the pandemic, Dobin says “we could never have streamlined our business by digitalizing all aspects of it during a time of growth. It took the decline created by the pandemic to give us the time to focus on this and put us 20 years ahead of everyone else in this business.”
“What took us 90 minutes before, now will take ten minutes. We can quickly review where we stand with any 2-3 star or 5-star hotel project. Since 2017, we have been more selective than previously about which jobs we go after - as our focus specifically on Window Treatments and the services that accompany them - added a different product category to the business. There are profitable jobs in every sector of Hospitality for Valley Forge.”
“Vendors can access the system. We have the same number of suppliers as before, but the emphasis has been Turkish and American suppliers for about 60 percent of our business,” he confirms. Less than 10 percent of Valley Forge’s sourcing is done in China, he says.
”I love this business and after the last two years – when so many of us have felt isolated - there is no better time to be focused on the customer’s experience and our relationship with our clients. That’s really what the new system will give all the Valley Forge team more time to do. “
 


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