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FABRIX goes the distance for Invercargill manufacturer

Knight of NZ Ltd is a specialist manufacturer of premium quality leather and slinkskin jackets and coats. The majority of the company’s garments are destined for markets as far afield as the US, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with a considerable number also making their way into local stores that target an affluent tourist market.

The company works with very expensive raw materials and managing director, John Rhodes, explains that every skin differs according to the age of the animal, its breed, surface imperfections, and the way it takes to the dye.

Retailing in America for (US)$2,500 - $3,000 a piece, garments are strictly made to order and their production involves a multitude of variables that need to be accounted for and accurately incorporated into garment costings.

This complicated process had Rhodes looking for a fully integrated alternative to the piece-meal mix of software systems that he was struggling to employ. He contracted a consultant – who lectured at the local polytechnic’s IT department – to independently source a software package that would fulfil his exacting requirements; from inventory of materials and production costs, through to customer management, financial accounts and forecasting.

The consultant returned with the recommendation that Rhodes adopt the FABRIX system, which he had studied in operation on the premises of other local apparel manufacturing companies. Following lengthy telephone conversations with DDNC’s Phil Jones, Rhodes was of sufficient faith to purchase the system as yet unseen. He explains that the pivotal factor in his commitment to FABRIX was DDNC’s ability to customise the system to meet his needs.

FABRIX now successfully handles variations in raw materials and components, in addition to integrating foreign currencies, which can easily be converted to New Zealand dollars for the purpose of financial reports. Rhodes says the system has given him the confidence to take out foreign exchange contracts, which in turn allow him to run “standards” through the system for calculation of garment costings and estimates of yield per style. FABRIX is also able to translate the various codes assigned to a single garment, as Rhodes international distributors like to independently bestow colour and style names that are best suited to their individual markets.

Breaking into foreign markets is difficult enough, but Rhodes says that building sales and competing with the local manufacturers of these countries is a challenge that requires strong customer focus. While it took time to build up his customer database, Rhodes says FABRIX’s customer management system is invaluable in the information it provides, and coupled with accounting applications – allows for quick response times.

Based in Invercargill Knight of NZ Ltd is somewhat physically removed from New Zealand’s main business centres, but for Rhodes this has brought few disadvantages – even with the installation and maintenance of FABRIX. DDNC’s Wellington-based manager Phil Jones, initially made several trips to install the system, but Rhodes says he simply downloads any program updates from the website and most technical problems are easily amended over the phone. Besides which, he has no intention of relocating the company and relinquishing his highly skilled local employees who remain loyal to the company.

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