How Valio USA Inc. Wins at the Holidays, and at TPM with UpClear BluePlanner

Finlandia Cheese for the Holidays

As the holidays are in full swing, entertainers and guests alike bustle to share the joy of the season. Probably the most popular method is through food, whether in the form of a comforting sweet treat from the oven, or a gorgeous cheese plate. Whether it’s the butter, that’s the base of anything delicious, or the special gruyere that just marries perfectly with that pinot noir, Valio’s Finlandia Cheese is critical to any holiday spread and season.

How a Finnish cheese ended up in most New York delis

The story of Valio USA Inc. has its foundation with its parent company, Valio. Valio is one of the largest companies in Finland, and was founded in 1905, starting as 14 co-operative dairies. Today, it has a revenue of 1.8 billion euros, produces 80% of the country’s milk, is the biggest food exporter in Finland, and employs over 4,000 people.

Finlandia was developed as a brand in the growing market for full-flavored quality cheese in the United States. As Valio’s cheese brand, advertised as Finlandia in local media  it became more popular in New York delis, and shops and restaurants throughout the Northeast, Valio moved to formally acquire the Finlandia brand in 1990s as a flagship under its umbrella. Valio USA Inc. is a leading producer of Butter, Cheese Slices, Specialty Cheese, and a staple at deli counters across the nation.

A TPM Platform in Time for the New Year

In November 2016, Valio USA was at a stage where they had outgrown their existing system to manage trade spend. Finding a Trade Promotion Management tool to grow with them and deploy quickly became a key priority before end of year. The incoming VP of Sales, Joe DeMarco, had worked with BluePlanner in his previous role, and with his direction and glowing review,  and a timeline to have the system up and running by December, ready for 2017-planning.

“This is the second time I have had the opportunity to work with UpClear and they have once again provided a robust solution for sales that is easy to use and delivers value immediately”

-Joe DeMarco – VP of Sales

No stranger to an accelerated timeline to deploy, UpClear leveraged their experience, and a practice to start fast and small. Valio USA was able to begin planning promotions in BluePlanner and start using the system, almost  immediately. This capability, coupled with quick decision making by the Finlandia Cheese leadership team and a hyper-focused scope, allowed for business activities to continue, and achieve a new level of planning.

“Our Sales team was planning promotions within BluePlanner in as little as one month from the start of the project. The system is very robust, yet simple to train new users on so that they are using the system very quickly.  We were able to see immediate ROI, while adding additional key features on during the latter phases of the project when our team was ready”. 

– Mark Conway,  Senior Customer Marketing Manager

UpClear’s Agile Adjustment to Changing ERP’s

In February 2020, Finlandia Cheese cutover to a new ERP system and upgraded to SAP. Part of this cutover involved adjusting existing master data within BluePlanner to accommodate an entirely new coding structure.

Through a coordinated effort, the team at Finlandia Cheese was able to take what could have been a multi-day activity, and perform a mid-day cutover preventing any disruption in daily reporting for the team.

The integration between SAP and BluePlanner supported by the collaboration that the UpClear Team provided ensured a smooth and efficient transition.

“The Finlandia team is a pleasure to work with and was well prepared for this transition. This preparation allowed us to collectively practice the system cutover several times in advance of the actual execution, ensuring a seamless transition that we were able to execute mid-day.”

– Alex Botwinick, Client Success Manager Americas, UpClear

Since the deployment of UpClear BluePlanner, Finlandia Cheese has been able to address additional business needs with system integration, closed-loop payments, and also Analytics offering further insights into promotion execution and trade spend. Moving forward, there are plans to explore the option of multi-scenario planning as the next evolution of their use of BluePlanner. Finlandia Cheese has been consistently impressed with our user experience, combined with a collaborative team approach and industry expertise.