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Katz Americas coasts to success with Google Apps

Posted by Tom Muraca, Director of Marketing at Katz Americas

Editor's note: Our guest blogger is Tom Muraca, Director of Marketing at Katz Americas, the largest manufacturer of beverage coasters in North and South America. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

Katz Americas may not be a household name, but when you put a drink down at a tavern or restaurant, our product is probably under your glass. We’re one of the biggest manufacturers of drink coasters in the United States, with over 100 employees across our two facilities in Buffalo, New York and Johnson City, Tennessee.

We weren't always such a large company - we grew quickly through a handful of mergers over the last few years - and when we finally had a chance to come up for air, we realized our technology hadn’t kept up with us. We were stumbling along with a fractured email and collaboration platform built around Microsoft Exchange 2003 and a few file-sharing servers. It was expensive and unreliable, especially for a company without a dedicated IT department. Upgrading our hosted system didn’t make financial sense, and Microsoft Office 365 didn’t win our team over. Google Apps did both, and its stability and security features were especially attractive. We decided to make the switch to Google Apps in September of 2011, and with help from Dito, our Google Apps reseller, we were up and running by January of 2012.

Google Apps has helped us streamline and modernize our day-to-day work. By using Google Drive, we’ve cut the average time it takes to deliver an estimate and mocks to a customer from one week to just three days. Instead of sending different versions of huge files around by email, we create a single shared folder on Drive and house each proof there. That way, we can easily share, edit and collaborate on our work as a team in less than half the time it took before.

The Gmail and Google Drive mobile apps have changed how we interact with potential customers and sell our product when we’re on the road. Now, I can pull up a design on my phone while I’m speaking to a customer at an industry event or even create a rough prototype on the spot. I can also add their information to my contacts, get a quote started for them immediately, and follow up via email within minutes of finishing our conversation. Google Apps lets us give our customers on-the-spot, personal service, and that gives us a huge advantage over the competition.

Google Apps has been the keystone of our revamped company strategy at a time of significant change. The way I see it, it’s also just the beginning: our employees are constantly finding new features and sharing their favorite use cases, so I can only imagine the benefits we’ll see a year from now. In the meantime, we’ll get back to focusing on our core business - protecting tabletops from condensation and spills with surfboard-shaped coasters (and some normal shaped coasters, too).