In 1950, Ed Levin began hand-crafting jewelry in his apartment in New York City. He traveled to college campuses and sold his creations out of a suitcase. It wasn’t long, however, before he opened a retail shop in Bennington, Vermont.
In 1975, the business relocated to Cambridge, New York, and became a wholesale-only operation. Today, Ed Levin, Inc. is considered to be the largest and oldest hand-crafted designer jewelry manufacturer in the country, serving more than 400 jewelry retailers around the United States.
“We typically have some 250 designs in the line at all times,” says Leslie Resio, President and General Manager of Ed Levin, Inc. “We add about 50 new items each year and drop about 50 that aren’t selling well.”
She adds, “Most designs are available in 4-5 different metals and many with 12 different stones. The result is several combinations and permutations that might be ordered.”
“We try to act as the inventory drawer for the shops we sell to,” Resio says, “so our promise to the stores is ‘we can deliver your hand-crafted order within 5 days.’ So, even though our products are hand-crafted, we still have a very sophisticated business that requires technology to deal with all the information we have.”
As the year 2000 approached, Resio contacted Ebeling Associates about a new information management system to meet their needs because their existing system was almost entirely customized and upgrading it would have been prohibitively expensive.
Resio says, “Allan Robison came over and gave us a demonstration of EXEControl and showed how you can start with one piece of information and, with just a few keystrokes, drill down and get almost any other piece of information that you need. With our old system, production reports were downloaded to Excel. It was expensive, cumbersome, and it didn’t work very well.”
With the EXEControl system, when an order comes in to Ed Levin for a piece of jewelry, a request is automatically routed to the stock room where the material is cut, the stones selected, and everything is ready within minutes for the craftsperson to work on it. As a result, the time available for the craftsperson to make a piece of jewelry so that it can be shipped within the company’s standard lead times has been extended from four hours to four days!
Resio says, “With four days available for crafting a piece of jewelry, that has given us more efficiency. For example, now a craftsperson can take one item and group it with like items to create a more efficient process. It’s less stressful for everyone involved.”
Thanks to the EXEControl system, now anyone in the company can know instantly what items are being made, where they are in the process, who is working on them, and when they are expected to be ready for shipping. The system takes care of all the inventory, including gold, silver, and stones, and produces reports of what materials are running low, based on usage. The system also handles billing and invoicing.
“In the past,” Resio says, “the sales department would never get involved with the old system, other than to review hardcopy reports. Now they can get on the computer to find out what customers have ordered, when they paid, which designs are selling and to what shops, as well as everything they need to know about a shop and its payment history.”
One capability that the company never had before is to track returned goods. About 20% of merchandise comes back to the company. When an item comes in, it is now logged in on a particular tray where it can be tracked throughout the building. Eventually, it goes to the repolishing department, where it is made ready for sale again.
“When an order comes in,” Resio says, “we know if the desired item is in repolish. That keeps us from making things we don’t need to make, and it has helped us organize a part of our business that no one wanted to deal with.”
She adds, “Some time ago, we had a dream of bar-coded work orders, bar-coded inventory, and bar-coded finished inventory. EXEControl has made our dream a reality.”
“Working with the folks at Ebeling has been very much a partnership,” Resio says. “When I first met with them, I said we would need a lot of handholding, and they’ve given us exactly what we need. They behave like they expect to be working together for a very long time. They’ve been wonderful.”