Harvest Co-Op Case Study

Harvest Co-op is a community-owned market with two stores in the Boston, MA metro area. Harvest has stores in Cambridge and Jamaica Plain, and company headquarters in Somerville, with a total of 80 employees. Specializing in natural, organic, local, fair trade and commercial food, it has had a loyal following for 45 years. 

The Problem

Harvest’s mission is to keep its prices low for its customers, and this fiscal responsibility carries into its office management. The IT system was hand built many years ago by well-meaning individuals, but the numerous patches over time made the system unwieldy. 

A few critical events happened within a short period, requiring a rethink of Harvest’s IT. There was turnover in the IT department, and at the same time, Harvest downsized from three stores to two. It became clear that replacing IT staff was not necessarily the solution to running the department and updating its IT infrastructure, so Harvest considered outsourcing its IT support.

The Solution

After interviews, meetings and audits by three vendors, Harvest decided INNOVEX was the right fit for them. The board also liked the collaborative relationship offered, which they felt would serve them best. Service level agreements were crafted addressing any concerns with INNOVEX’s ability to service them from their northern Rhode Island location. The decision was unanimous.

The co-op chose INNOVEX to supply nearly all the needs it had, and to provide storage protection and 24/7 security – things it hadn’t had in the past. The plan included linking the three locations and simplifying the internal IT needs so one person at Harvest could coordinate everything.

The implementation went very well, according to Mike St. Clair, General Manager of Harvest. “We were pleased with the pace and response. And our IT coordinator gets the support she needs,” he said. The biggest expense of the project was the installation of new servers. “That’s a tough expense for a small business, but it was badly needed and overdue. INNOVEX offered a reasonable price and a quick timeframe,” he continued.

The Benefits

“Within a year, the payoff has taken place,” said Mike. Considering the cost of payroll and benefits of the entire IT department, Harvest saved money. “In addition, we got the benefit of the additional expertise INNOVEX brings and the security of the 24/7 monitoring. Downtime has diminished as well, as INNOVEX’s monitoring has caught and resolved issues preemptively that we may not have seen with our old systems.”

Ongoing, Harvest expects to see the financial benefits realized each year going forward.

“Our concern that the distance was a hindrance was unfounded,” Mike said. “Our INNOVEX engineer works around rush hour traffic, and the system works well for us. INNOVEX has a business model that translates to the Boston area.”

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