An adorable bonnet is the namesake and a best-seller for The Beaufort Bonnet Company, which specializes in upscale, classic children’s clothing. Born in Markey and Bert Hutchinson’s basement in Lexington, Ky., almost four years ago, Beaufort Bonnet quickly became the equivalent of a growing toddler, bursting out of the Hutchinsons’ home.
Within a couple of years the company moved out of the house and into roomy office space, but before long, growing pains struck again as orders for its merchandise, sold mostly online, exploded.
In fact, Bert found himself up to his elbows in cardboard boxes, spending 75 percent of his workday getting orders ready and racing to the post office to mail them. There was little time for other important work, like finding new wholesale markets and strategic planning. Customer service reps were even called away from their phones to help with shipments.
“We were at the point in May of 2015 where we couldn’t fill orders in a timely manner and we couldn’t order any more inventory to sell because we didn’t have the space,” said Bert.
In mid-2015, the Hutchinsons went looking for a company to handle shipping, warehousing and inventory control. They found Bluegrass Integrated Communications and met with me. I carefully walked them through the steps needed for our company to handle their shipping, handling and inventory; I showed them how our computerized inventory management system works and how their staff could use it to monitor the company’s merchandise and orders.
Beaufort Bonnet also committed to a full aisle in our warehouse. “I have a picture of that row when it was empty and at the time I thought, ‘We’ll never need that much space,’’’ said Bert. “About a month from now (February 2016), we will be adding a second aisle in the warehouse.”
Like many small but rapidly growing businesses, Beaufort Bonnet thought it could handle its own shipping and warehousing. “But it became crippling to our business,” Bert said. “The last day, before we shifted to Bluegrass, I shipped 280 boxes from my desk.”
Trying to do it all was holding the business back, he discovered. “We grew by two and a half times last year,” he said. “Sharon’s team has allowed us to continue on our growth trajectory. If we had continued doing our own shipping, the business would have become stagnant.”
If you are spending more of your time packing and shipping boxes than doing your “real” job, it might be time to give Bluegrass a call.
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