Clarkston Consulting

THE SCOOP 

Drawing out the SAP

Clarkston Consulting is business and IT consultancy serving the consumer products and life sciences markets. Besides its headquarters in Durham, N.C., the firm has offices in six U.S. cities. It was founded in 1991 as Clarkston-Potomac by Tom Finegan, Neil Nelson, Ronald Gridley and James Stefan, all former Andersen consultants who saw an opportunity to create one of the first American companies to offer SAP implementation. The founders quickly carved a niche for the firm as an affordable alternative to the Big Six, and targeted primarily mid-market clients with services like sales force automation, electronic solutions, process management and strategic planning.

 

New priorities

Clarkston didn't fare well when the tech bubble popped in 1999, and was forced to lay off a fifth of its staff in 2000. In February that year, however, private equity firm Navis Partners helped right the firm's course with a $15 million investment. Following the close call, Clarkston rearranged its business plan, narrowing its target clients to those in the life sciences, manufacturing and high-tech markets. As time went on, this focus narrowed even further, leading to the firm's present target markets of life sciences and consumer products. Reflecting this niche approach, Clarkston has never pursued aggressive expansion, instead applying energy to the careful cultivation of its client base. The results have borne this decision out: Clarkston's 11-year average client satisfaction rate is 97 percent (as measured by annual surveys conducted by Client Opinions).

 

Serving up success

Some of the firm's biggest consumer products clients are Church & Dwight, Coca-Cola, BumbleBee, First Quality, Seneca Foods, the Charmer-Sunbelt Group, and Mars. Services to such clients range from demand planning and new product development to human capital management, operational solutions and supply-chain management. In an engagement with Seneca Foods-the largest North American manufacturer of canned and glass-packaged vegetables, with brands that include Libby's, Stokley and Seneca-Clarkston worked with the firm to develop a strategic IT solution to replace Seneca's existing software systems, which were becoming increasingly costly to maintain. In addition to replacing the existing systems-which were disjointed and disparate-the solution also had to reduce risk, focus on Seneca's core competencies and support anticipated growth. The result: an integrated SAP ERP platform that supports strategic, integrated solutions, responds to customer and regulatory needs and allows additional growth, all while operating from a single set of core business processes across all plants and distribution facilities. The transition also allowed Seneca's IT personnel to shift their focus from daily transactional support to strategic IT initiatives, enabling the company to better meet its compliance needs and prepare for future growth.

 

Prescribing solutions

On the other side, the firm's life sciences practice works with pharmaceutical companies, diagnostics manufacturers, biotech companies and other makers of health care products. Major clients include Amgen, Genzyme, H.D. Smith, Mylan, Medicis, CareFusion, Hospira, United Therapeutics, Shire, and Pfizer , the recipients of services including quality and enterprise systems strategy and implementation, , regulatory strategy and compliance, M&A integration and advice, and operational efficiency management. In a project for Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the firm was asked to help transition the company from an R&D specialist into full commercial viability. Clarkston established a program management office to organize and run the interdependent project components and resource demands of the client. This integration of essential functions allowed Alexion to quickly and cost-effectively bring its first products to market.

 

Getting the word out

The firm participates in thought leadership in the industry through research studies, white papers and its Viewpoints and Insights publications, collections of case studies, strategies and trend-tracking pieces which it posts on the company web site. Some recent topics include a breakdown of the usefulness of metrics and key performance indicators, a look at the necessity of accurate product labeling and a piece on the best means of sustaining customer loyalty. Clarkston also dispatches its consultants as guest speakers for seminars and conferences around the country, including the 2014 SAPPHIRENOW and ASUG Annual Conference as well as the 2014 BioInternational Convention.

 

Morale makers

Similar to its commitment to clients, the firm makes efforts to keep employee relations healthy and strong. It distributes an annual Triple-A (Ask, Act and Adopt) Employee Satisfaction Survey, which employees can take anonymously online. Clarkston also claims to offer ample training, ranging from external classes, self study, e-learning and lunch 'n learns, to formal and on-the-job training, Clarkston University and new hire orientation-in addition to tuition reimbursement. Between 80 and 120 hours per year are available to employees for use on purely self-developmental pursuits.

 

IN THE NEWS 

April 2014 

Clarkston Consulting selected as 2014 LearningElite Finalist

Clarkston Consulting  was  named a 2014 LearningElite finalist organization by Chief Learning Officer (CLO) magazine. The LearningElite Finalists were selected for creating and implementing exemplary workforce development practices that deliver measurable business value.  

The LearningElite is widely recognized as one of the most meaningful and comprehensive standards for effective L&D practices, and it recognizes and ranks excellence using five key learning and development performance indicators: learning strategy, learning execution, learning impact, business performance results and leadership commitment.  

 

January 2013 

Clarkston Consulting reports Client Satisfaction rating of 99%  

Clarkston Consulting announced the results of its 13th annual client satisfaction survey. The 2013 survey showed a total satisfaction rating of 99%. For the past thirteen years, Clarkston has engaged a third-party independent research firm to obtain an objective and unbiased assessment of the year's performance. Client Opinions, Inc., an independent research firm, conducted the 2013 assessment by collecting direct feedback from Clarkston's clients.  The input ranged from industry expertise, delivering business results, project execution, and quality.

 

November 2013 

Clarkston Consulting named to Triangle Business Journal's Best Places to Work

Clarkston Consulting was named to the Triangle Business Journal's Best Places to Work in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC area.  Clarkston Consulting is 11th among 35 organizations from the Research Triangle region to receive this award and to be recognized for providing a remarkable workplace that attracts and retains employees through a combination of company culture, engaging work environment and benefits. The Best Places to Work Awards is a national awards program for which companies are nominated to participate because they recognize that creating a productive, engaging, and rewarding place to work is of high value.

 

October 2013 

Clarkston Consulting wins ASTD BEST Award 

Clarkston Consulting received a BEST Award from the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). The BEST Awards recognize organizations that demonstrate enterprise-wide success through employee learning and development. Clarkston has been on the list of ASTD BEST Award winners for four years, being recognized previously for this prestigious award in 2012, 2008 and 2007.

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Clarkston Consulting


2655 Meridian Parkway
Durham, NC 27713
Phone: (800) 652-4274
Fax: (919) 484-4450
www.clarkstonconsulting.com

STATS


  • Employer Type: Private
  • CEO: Tom Finegan

  • Employment Contact

    Visit Clarkston's careers page


  • Major Departments & Practices

    Consumer Products Solutions

    Business Intelligence and Analytics

    Demand Chain Management

    Trade Promotion Planning

    Enterprise Systems

    Food Safety, Traceability, and Sustainability

    Innovation

    Supply Chain Management

     

    Life Sciences Solutions

    Enterprise Systems

    Improving Demand Practices

    Quality Systems & Regulatory Compliance

    Supply Chain Management

Major Office Locations

  • Durham, NC (HQ)
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Detroit, MI
  • Escondido, CA
  • Mountainside, NJ
  • Philadelphia, PA
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