CASE STUDY: Escape Fitness sets the tone for sport clubs while HandiFox keeps its inventory in a good shape

HandiFox is proud to be working with Escape Fitness - the industry leader in functional fitness equipment.

Founded in 1998 in Peterborough (UK), Escape Fitness has grown from their beginnings as suppliers of equipment and now is offering the fitness industry their four solutions: great looking equipment, flooring, design and training. 

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Advocating ‘Escaping Your Limits’ philosophy, the company has never stopped stretching their own boundaries – the business has expanded to Europe and across the Atlantic - to online webstores in the UK, US, Germany and Poland.

We have spoken with Andrew Gamble, Group IT Manager at Escape Fitness, who knows all the ins and outs of the company’s expansion and the changes in the operational and IT infrastructure it caused.

Escape Fitness’ beginnings

“Matthew Januszek saw a market opportunity for free-weights in the late 1990s. At the time, dumbbells were made up of individual plates and were industrial-looking and intimidating. He saw the need for equipment that was designed to be aesthetically pleasing and therefore more appealing to the emerging gyms and their clients. As a result, Escape Fitness was founded in 1997 and has expanded at a rapid rate of knots since then. We are now world leaders in the field of functional exercise equipment and have designed and manufactured many different type of equipment used in gyms all around the world. The company remains a family run business. Escape Fitness with its subsidiaries has over 100 employees located in various countries around the world. Escape Fitness USA has 5 permanent employees working in the Ohio warehouse.”

The need for a solution

“Escape in Europe uses one of the British top accounting software solutions with various add-ons, one of which is designed to control our UK and German warehouses. When we set up in the USA our existing finance package was unsuitable due to the different jurisdictional operating rules in that region. QuickBooks Enterprise was chosen for this reason. It became apparent as volumes increased that we needed software to control the flow of goods in and out of our new warehouse in Cincinnati. As we were using QuickBooks Enterprise as the finance software our search was for an add-on that could supplement and extend the reach of the software to cover the management of the warehouse.”

Determining inventory needs and exploring options

“We already had well proven procedures developed in the UK and Germany using our existing software and we didn’t want to have to change these procedures by using a different system in the USA. It was important that we could use handheld computers with barcode readers to aid the data entry processes used to move stock through the warehouse. Receiving goods, putting away and then picking for dispatch could be done in the same way as our other warehouses. It was also important that we could handle the building of assemblies of different components to make finished products. HandiFox allowed us to do this.

We did our research and listed the costs and benefits of a number of QuickBooks compatible systems. HandiFox was selected for a trial as it appeared to match our requirements.”

HandiFox helps grow warehouse throughput in US branch office

“The system was up and running very quickly and, although we found some issues with the way that we interpreted some of the procedures, these were quickly resolved.

QuickBooks is installed on a virtual server based in the UK and is operated in the UK and USA via a couple of Microsoft Remote Desktop servers. HandiFox is installed on another virtual machine in the UK. There is a secure VPN operating between our US and UK locations. There are 2 users of the system who use the handheld warehouse facilities in Cincinnati. These 2 workers are supported by three other workers in Cincinnati using QuickBooks and using the data created by HandiFox.

We rely on all the aspects of HandiFox equally and we would not have been able to grow our warehouse throughput in the USA without it. As we have increased activities, the one thing that we have had to change is to put better quality handhelds in place. We originally used camera based imaging devices but realized that the time saved by using laser scanner devices would be a wise investment.”

HandiFox reinforces Escape Fitness’ growth

“The installation and use of HandiFox is one of the factors along with the hard work of our US employees that has allowed us to grow very quickly in the US. Without it we would not have been able to process as many orders through our Cincinnati warehouse as we have done so far. However, we have now reached the point where we are looking to implement a global system that will replace all of our systems in every location. We are confident that HandiFox will continue to keep pace with our rapid growth until it is replaced. The support given to us from the authors of HandiFox is a large factor in this confidence. So far we have not come across any issue that could not be overcome by the HandiFox team.

We found the developers were very open to ideas and changed and enhanced the software where we found it necessary. The responsiveness of the development team was certainly one of the things that we found extremely helpful.

The system has met our expectations and enabled us to grow our US operation to several times its original size. In short, the decision to use HandiFox was a good one, cost effective and works very well with QuickBooks.”