In 2019, Wells Enterprises became the second-largest ice cream producer in the United States. The company—which makes such well-known brands as Blue Bunny®, Bomb Pop®, and Halo Top®,—has earned a reputation for their state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. In fact, they’re often cited as one of the most technically advanced businesses in the industry.
But as technologically savvy as the company has always been in terms of food production, Wells was maintaining an aging, onsite communications infrastructure that was increasingly undermining their business operations.
A phone system close to melting down
“Our old system was IP-based, but it required us to manage on-premise hardware and software,” explains Mike Kooistra, Director of Technology. And with the company growing rapidly, adding both new employees and new locations across the country, the phone system’s problems were becoming more serious.
“Calls were dropping more regularly,” Mike recalls. “We also had a lot of calls cutting out, where you could hear only every third or fifth word. That drove people crazy.”
The company’s move to a more flexible cloud solution—from RingCentral—led to significant operational improvements right away… from lowering their costs for long-distance calls, to solving the call-quality and dropped-call issues that had been increasingly frustrating the staff. But when COVID-19 hit, the solution they chose proved even more valuable than they’d hoped.
Bringing staff together even as the lockdowns kept them apart
A few months after the pandemic started, Mike and his team rolled out RingCentral company-wide. For the first time, all employees had access—from any computer or smartphone—to their business phone number, conference calling capabilities, team messaging, and even the ability to host video calls and webinars.
“Having RingCentral made all the difference as the quarantine duration continued,” Mike says. “We were able to tell everyone, ‘If you don’t need to be in the office, you can work at home.’ What was amazing was that we didn’t have any trouble making the transition. Everyone just started using the RingCentral apps on their computers and cell phones—no issues.”
But even though hundreds of Wells’ corporate employees were now working remotely, and very few were in the office, the staff was able to continue functioning as a close-knit team. “I think these communication tools, especially the video calling capability, really improved our collaboration during the lockdowns,” says Mike.
One great use Wells found for RingCentral video conferences was to host informal, get-to-know-each-other chats with employees on different teams or based in different parts of the country. “That’s been great for team building, especially at a time when a lot of people feel isolated.”
And, as Mike points out: “Because we can host so many people on a RingCentral Webinar, we’re having all-company meetings where our execs get a chance to update us all, and we can ask them questions. It’s the first tool we’ve ever had that can connect 1,400 of us in a single meeting.”
Originally published Apr 14, 2021