We are welcomed by Henri van Renselaar in SunCircle’s office, located in industrial park De Harsselaar in Barneveld, the Netherlands. Production takes place on the same premises. Henri has been working at SunCircle since 2005, and is responsible for its administration and also the internal point of contact for automation. SunCircle was founded in 1990 by E. van Huigenbos. Enjoying sunlight and shadow, without a care in the world, was what he envisioned, which led him to start assembling exterior awnings. Separate materials were purchased and modified in line with his ideas. Other components were developed internally by SunCircle’s design department, after which they were combined and assembled.
From its inception, SunCircle always offered something more, prioritising durability, reliable technology and innovative functionality. SunCircle’s long product warranty is unique.
In 2000, the company gained momentum and sold many awnings. Since 2005, its rapid growth has halted, with development taking place at a steady pace. In order to keep operational management lean and effective, SunCircle moved to Barneveld in 2008. Since its move, product development really took off, making it possible to bypass trade through intermediaries and launch new products that stand out. Procurement, assembly and distribution to customers takes place in Barneveld. SunCircle is currently led by Johan and Theo van Huigenbos, the sons of the founder.
The awnings market has a number of major suppliers. SunCircle is known as ‘the best of the rest’. Its distinctive character has remained consistent from its inception: Top-notch quality and innovation, driven by a motivated development team. The product portfolio has significantly expanded over the years and is sold through a network of 200 dealers. SunCircle’s brand awareness among consumers is low, which is why the dealer network continues to be essential for sales.
SunCircle is primarily active in the Netherlands and also exports to Belgium and Canada. The number of workers on staff varies between 26 and 40, depending on the season. Which makes sense, as less awnings are sold in winter.
Two important market trends stand out:
Complete terrace roofs – a facility that goes beyond placement of a folding-arm awning. The roof’s waterproof fabric can be folded in or out automatically. The sides can be shielded, to create a sun lounge, making it possible to stay seated outside, even if the weather is less fair.
The bottom end of the market features many cheap products, available through home improvement stores. Consumers install these awnings themselves. SunCircle responds to the first trend by manufacturing high-quality and durable roofs, with additional windproof screens and/or lighting, if so desired.
Materials are purchased internationally and customised in Barneveld. SunCircle’s production is order-driven: Products are custom-made, assembled and transported to their final destination, based on incoming orders. Where necessary, the service department supports dealers with assembly. The design department is continuously improving existing products and designing new solutions. Enjoying sunlight and shadow, without a care in the world
Henri, you are SunCircle’s point of contact for automation. What is the setup like?
Henri: “We have our own server park with thin clients to run everything. We use the 2009 version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV, combined with Econ’s product configurator. Mprise is our partner.”
Are all business processes present within NAV?
Henri: “To a large extent, yes. However, we do not use the CRM part of NAV. The order process is run through E-con and subsequently processed in NAV, to print out parts lists and work orders. Procurement is also done through NAV. Component selection takes place within the order in question. A custom solution (optimisation) was made to facilitate sawing materials to appropriate length.
NAV also supports our service processes. Creating print-outs of overviews is primarily done in PDF format. We do not lay out quotations in NAV.”
What made you decide to start using Exsion?
Henri: “We purchased Exsion because we want to generate reports ourselves. They are used for control, analysis and to inform our management. I create all Exsion reports myself, with the help of some of my colleagues.”
What benefits does Exsion offer SunCircle?
Henri: “First of all, our management can now manage things more easily, for example, through a concise analysis of sales and turnover, broken down by region, product group and vendor. These overviews are essential to operational management.
Thanks to Exsion, our sales department is exactly aware of the order turnover situation, and thus able to safeguard the pipeline. I also create overviews with turnover broken down by dealer and product, including quantities and margins, and use dimensions to keep track of products and types.”
Which reports are most commonly used?
Henri: “The ageing analysis of debtors and their credit limit is a very important report to our administration department. The procurement department frequently uses an Exsion report on purchasing, broken down by vendor and product.
An additional advantage is that this overview also allows monitoring of procurement within the EU (where VAT is shifted), which is useful when forwarding information to the tax authorities. For interim reports and annual accounts, we use reports from which we can deduce connections between the general ledger in NAV and specifications.”
Are you able to manage things with Exsion’s standard reports?
Henri: “Yes, although I have made several changes to make them relevant to SunCircle.”
How do you like working with Exsion?
Henri: “Exsion is a very useful tool for analysing and reporting data stored in NAV. It will take some effort, but then you can create beautiful overviews. Sometimes Excel does not suffice if you want to have your cake and eat it too. Being able to automatically forward reports would be convenient. That can be done through the Task Planner, but it has not been used yet.”
“EXSION IS A VERY USEFUL TOOL”
Can you show us an example of the things you do with Exsion?
Henri: “Absolutely! Below, you can see two overviews I created with Exsion, based on NAV data. These overviews show us which products were manufactured in a given period and broken down by brand, based on order turnover.
Keep in mind, though, that these are just examples. The data below have been edited and do not constitute an approximation of reality.”
This case is taken from the book ‘Reporting Refreshed – Financial Experts Speak’