Customer Success Story - Great Bay Distributors

January 27, 2016

About Great Bay Distributors

Great Bay Distributors has been selling beer to retailers in Florida since their inception in 1968. The third generation, family owned and operated business credits it's success to three simple principles: provide the best level of service possible to the customer, treat your employees like family, and give back to the community you work in. With an initial staff of 25, Great Bay has grown to over 370 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 close to 11 million cases of beverages annually, servicing more than 3,500 accounts.

The Problem

Matt Sokolowski, Great Bay’s Successor Manager, 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, the existing setup simply couldn't handle the level of growth Great Bay was experiencing. 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 and were 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, Florida and began construction on a brand new 280,000 sq. ft. 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 business to address ongoing IT operational issues and develop a technology foundation that would support future growth.

The Solution

Knowing the value of third-party expertise, Great Bay 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 Great Bay to take the next step in the process. 

Vology performed an in-depth analysis of the company’s existing IT environment to determine 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 Contract. 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 a Core-to-Edge 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 completely new IT frame-work was constructed at the new distribution center and included brand 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 in to 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. 

The Impact

Everything from deliveries and fleet tracking/maintenance, to ordering and inventory control, has been enhanced by Vology’s customized solutions and Managed Services. Vology’s development and implementation of best practices, change control, and IT operational policies have allowed Great Bay to transition from IT remediation, to effective IT operation. They no longer have a reactionary approach to their technology challenges.  

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 in order to fix it,” says Sokolowski, “Vology has allowed Great Bay to do a simple job more efficiently and to focus on continuing to be the standard by which other distributers measure themselves.”

Great Bay plans to utilize Vology’s services to refresh the existing infrastructure at their Holiday location in the upcoming year, and will continue to rely on Vology’s Managed Services for ongoing support at both facilities.

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.

Vology Services Used 

  1. Vology Connect - Plan (Network Infrastructure Assessment)
  2. Vology Connect - Deploy (Core-to-edge Infrastructure Design)
  3. Vology Complete - Manage (Network Managed Services) 
  4. Vology Complete  - Support


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