Genuine Technology Group provides IT innovation for Firestone Pacific Foods during pandemic

 

Who is Firestone Pacific Foods?

Firestone Pacific Foods provides premium frozen fresh fruit to supermarkets and restaurants. Serving both North America and overseas markets, Firestone employs over 200 people on its 70-acre farm in Vancouver, Washington State, and in four cold storage facilities throughout Washington and Oregon.

The challenge – adapting to COVID-19

Like all organizations, Firestone found itself needing to change how employees worked to continue operating during the pandemic in 2020. In particular, Firestone was concerned about ensuring its office-based employees could work from home – but making this happen was no easy task. Josh Hinerfield, CEO of Firestone Pacific Foods, explains:

“We’ve grown rapidly in recent years, and as a result our IT infrastructure was a little disorganized. It had always been on the to-do list, but the pandemic made it essential that our IT systems were able to support our employees to continue working as safely as possible.”

It was plain that Firestone had outgrown the small, local IT service provider it had used in the past – so Josh decided it was time to look for a new partner, an essential step in keeping the business functioning.

The solution – managed IT services from Genuine Technology Group

Luckily, Josh didn’t have to look very far to find a provider.

“Genuine Technology Group was actually recommended to me by a former CIO I had worked with, whose opinion I trust.”

Genuine initially came on board to help Firestone create a VPN that would enable back office staff to access their systems from home, seamlessly and securely. But very quickly, the team noticed other areas where they could help Firestone perform better. In fact, Genuine ended up helping Firestone upgrade its software and hardware portfolio to ensure it was fit for purpose, including desktop PCs, printers, and servers.

In May, disaster struck. Firestone suffered an outbreak of COVID-19 at one of its facilities, with 44% of its staff testing positive for the virus. The facility was closed down, but Josh knew his responsibilities as an employer didn’t end there.

“It was absolutely vital that we found a way to communicate with all our employees – not just at the affected site, but across the business,” he explains. “We needed to help employees access testing facilities, get their results, and also keep everyone informed of how their colleagues – and the company – were faring.”

Genuine immediately swung into action. In less than a week, they built a totally bespoke portal where Firestone employees could access medical screening information, testing information, and information on how to apply for sick leave or benefits.

“Ernest, Nate and the Genuine team did all of that without any guidance from me,” Josh says, “and I couldn’t have been more grateful. They worked around the clock to build this solution, and it made all the difference to helping our employees protect themselves and access vital information about their healthcare and the company’s status.”  

The results – a fire-and-forget IT department that shines

Since bringing Genuine on board, Firestone’s IT has changed from something that keeps Josh awake at night, to something he barely has to think about. Genuine handles everything seamlessly and discreetly, from plugging in cables to CIO-level strategic decisions.

It’s given Josh real peace of mind that Firestone’s data is secure, its network is robust, and that it will continue to be, both now and into the future. Given that Firestone relies on technology to provide secure, real-time visibility into its inventory across its locations, it’s safe to say the improvements Genuine has made have helped ensure the business’ survival in the long-term.

“As CEO, one of the things I have to constantly think about is ‘what kind of catastrophe could take the company down?’ The state of our data security or the uptime of our network used to worry me. Now, it doesn’t.”

Perhaps best of all, Josh knows that in Genuine he has found an organization willing to act as a true partner to Firestone – in both the good times and the bad.

“The going got really tough for us as a business in 2020. Everyone here was under a lot of stress and there was a lot of uncertainty. Genuine showed up and very calmly, very deliberately, got stuff done. It’s so reassuring to work with a partner who isn’t afraid to jump down in the hole with you and help dig when times are tough.”