About Great Bay Distributors
Great Bay Distributors has been selling beer to retailers in Florida since 1968. The third generation, family-owned-and-operated business credits their success to three simple principles: providing customers with the best level of service possible, treating employees like family and giving back to the community. With an initial staff of 25, Great Bay has grown to more than 360 employees. They are currently the largest beverage wholesaler in the Tampa Bay region and the leading independent distributor in Florida for Anheuser-Busch products. The business sells more than 11 million cases of beverages annually, servicing more than 3,500 accounts.
Matt Sokolowski, Great Bay Distributors’ Vice President, recognized a critical need to develop a more effective, future-proof infrastructure. “We needed something that would carry the business into the next 50 years and allow simple processes to become more efficient.”
According to Sokolowski, their existing setup simply couldn’t handle Great Bay’s level of growth. The overall IT system had been patch-worked together from different sources, making it difficult to streamline automated processes and correct infrastructure issues.
“We were a mom and pop operation experiencing growing pains trying to get to that enterprise/corporate level,” says Sokolowski.
To meet the demands of their expanding business, Great Bay purchased 100 acres in St. Petersburg, Fla. and began construction on a 280,000 square foot distribution center. The facility was designed to be as self-sustaining as possible and included the installation of the largest solar array in Florida. This was an opportune time for the beverage distributor to address ongoing IT operational issues and develop technology foundation that would support future growth.
Knowing the value of third-party expertise, Great Bay Distributors contacted Vology to augment gaps in their internal resource capabilities. Vology’s Network Infrastructure Assessment yielded a remediation plan and best practices approach around policies and change control, which prompted the company to take the next step in the process.
Vology performed an in-depth analysis of the distributor’s existing IT environment to recommend a customized solution for their infrastructure challenges. This provided valuable insights that enhanced Great Bay’s relationship with Vology and developed into a Network Managed Services partnership. Vology’s expertise at each step of the process instilled trust in Great Bay, prompting them to request an entire refresh at the new distribution center. Vology provided an Infrastructure Design and Deployment tailored to Great Bay’s specific needs. The comprehensive plan would enable the company to continually evolve in the future by achieving optimal levels of performance.
A new IT framework was constructed at the new distribution center and included new fiber optic and Ethernet cabling. This created what Sokolowski refers to as, “the backbone” of the infrastructure. Numerous automated systems (including a cashless EFT system), security cameras, phones, even the HVAC system; all tapped into the fiber optic “backbone.” Vology also developed a connectivity solution for reporting on the performance of the distribution center’s solar array. As the new infrastructure was built, Sokolowski points out that it all happened “quietly,” and that the level of expertise Vology brought to the project resulted in a seemingly effortless transformation.
From deliveries and fleet tracking/maintenance, to ordering and inventory control, everything has been enhanced by Vology’s customized solutions and Managed IT Services. Vology’s development and implementation of best practices, change control and IT operational policies have allowed Great Bay Distributors to transition from IT remediation to an effective IT operation.
Vology’s ability to identify Great Bay’s infrastructure problems and develop a customized solution was instrumental to the success of the project.
“We knew what we were doing was wrong, but we didn’t know what we needed to do right to fix it. Vology has allowed Great Bay to do a simple job more efficiently, and to focus on continuing to be the standard by which other distributors measure themselves.”
When a company has a reliable IT foundation in place, processes can be streamlined, saving valuable time. The end-result is increased efficiency, optimal levels of performance and ultimately, higher profits.