Clarkston Consulting


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 10-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, 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, Banner Pharmacaps, Genzyme, 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.

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.


November 2012

Clarkston Consulting named to Triangle Business Journal's Fast 50

Clarkston Consulting was named to the Triangle Business Journal's 2012 Fast 50, an annual listing of the 50 fastest-growing private companies in the Raleigh-Durham area. Ranking 34th overall on the list, Clarkston received the award during the 20th Annual Fast 50 Awards event held in Durham, N.C. Clarkston has been named to the Triangle's Fast 50 listing multiple times prior to this year.

October 2012

Clarkston Consulting wins ASTD BEST Award

Clarkston Consulting received a BEST Award from the  American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), ranking No. 12 out of 30 organizations to be recognized. 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 three years, being recognized previously for this prestigious award in 2008 and in 2007.

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Clarkston Consulting

1007 Slater Road
Suite 400
Durham, NC 27703
Phone: (800) 652-4274
Fax: (919) 484-4450


  • Employer Type: Private
  • CEO: Tom Finegan

  • Employment Contact

  • Major Departments & Practices

    Consumer Products Solutions

    Business Intelligence and Analytics

    Demand Chain Management

    Enterprise Systems

    Food Safety, Traceability, and Sustainability


    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
  • Mountainside, NJ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Carlsbad, CA
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