The year is 1912; the place is Ellis Island, New York. A ship pulls in to port. Anthony “Tony” Ingoglia, a bright-eyed one-year old boy from Italy, arrives in America with his family to begin a new life… Fast forward to 1934, Sacramento, California. After years of living the values of his proud Italian heritage—long hours, honest business, customers first—Tony starts selling cheese and meats from his delivery truck while his wife takes phone orders, and “Tony’s Salami Company” is born. Within a few years, Tony’s high standards of service, quality, and integrity bring success, and Tony’s Fine Foods becomes an industry name.
Since then, Tony’s has kept its old-fashioned commitment to customer service. Customers are considered more like family than business associates; personal service is provided to maintain customer relationships. Although the company remains old-fashioned in many respects when it comes to the customer, it has also incorporated technology and state-of-the-art systems to become the leading deli and bakery product and services specialist throughout the Western United States.
To maintain its reputation for reliability and trustworthiness, Tony’s Fine Foods must stay above the competition. One tool that has contributed to Tony’s keeping up with customer demand is Sequel Data Access, the HelpSystems business intelligence solution for IBM i (AS/400, iSeries). Mark Geery is the CIO at Tony’s Fine Foods. “We started using Sequel in our search for a better way to access and analyze our data and it has worked out great.”
Some of the advantages they’ve found with Sequel include conditional calculations, the ability to download IBM i data to Excel, an option to IBM i data in any number of formats including Excel and PDF, report formatting, pivot data, drill-down capability, and date manipulation. These powerful functions have allowed the employees at Tony’s Fine Foods to be even more efficient in serving their customers. “Until you see Sequel over your own data,” Mark says, “you can't really visualize how effective it can be. it is extremely hard to find just the right tools. Sequel continues to be one of our favorite go-to tools.”
Until you see Sequel over your own data, you can't really visualize how effective it can be. it is extremely hard to find just the right tools. Sequel continues to be one of our favorite go-to tools.
Mark Geery, CIO
Mark adds, “In addition to the superior functionality, Sequel gives us a really easy-to-use Windows interface. It also allows us to automatically convert our existing queries to Sequel objects. That enables our analysts to transition quickly and be more productive. We can take the converted queries and easily add all of the Sequel functions that we need.”
During the process of implementing Sequel into its IBM i tasks, Tony’s considered different areas of its business that could benefit from using Sequel. From the fully-staffed customer service department, to the will-call department and sales staff, Tony’s found they could use Sequel to access all types of data, such as general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and customer information.
Mark describes the many ways they use Sequel. “One of the first things we used Sequel for was to retrieve and analyze data from our general ledger. We needed reports to compare actual expenses versus budget. We used to have to download our IBM i data to Excel and use lookups to join data. This was cumbersome and the data was static. With Sequel, we can start out at the department level and drill down into general ledger accounts or to periods or cost centers, and all the way down to individual invoices.
“We also create many exception type reports and analyses. Sequel has worked out very well there. For example, when it comes to inventory control, we’re able to capture a lot of detail that is generated during the night shift and throughout the day. We use Sequel to summarize the data in various ways, spot any problems or discrepancies, and drill down to see the underlying detail. With Sequel, we’re able to filter the data and see just what we need to see.
“Sequel also enables us to automatically email reports on a daily basis. We can email reports showing missing orders or whether we hit our target for the night or other critical exceptions. It’s a great tool for analyzing data with the business analysts.” Mark adds, “Sequel is a great busines intelligence solution. It helps us deal with whatever comes up during the day or week.”
Since Tony’s Fine Foods has been using Sequel (2005), they have matured and been able to take advantage of more and more of the tool’s features. Mark explains “We continue to look for areas to bring in dashboards for our managers and users, exception reports/views, and critical email alerts while looking for ways to be more proactive in managing our day-to-day world. It is not always about latest smartphone or tablet, it is getting the data and information out of your system in a timely and effective manner.
I feel confident that HelpSystems will continue to be there as a partner to help us grow.”From its humble beginning as Tony’s Salami Company, to its current distribution of more than 14,000 products, Tony’s Fine Foods continues to be more than just a deli supplier—it is a third-generation family business still widely recognized for caring about its customers. With Sequel’s contribution to its System i tasks and daily operations, Tony’s has been able to add even more success to its success story.
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