Crystal Creamery/Foster Farms Dairy

Cleaning Up Fixed Asset Tracking and Records

THE CLIENT
Crystal Creamery was founded in 1901 and joined the Foster Farms family of companies in 2007. Now known by the Crystal name, Foster Farms Dairy was founded in 1941 by Max and Verda Foster and remains family owned.  It is recognized as one of the largest processors and marketers of dairy products in the state of California.

The company has over 850 employees, operates multiple manufacturing plants, and has a closed milk supply including five Foster family owned dairies with 5,200+ cows milked daily.  The company offers a full line of dairy products including milk, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, cream, butter, ice cream, chocolate milk, and egg nog.

THE CHALLENGE
Like many successful and growing companies, Crystal has bought and sold business units, consolidated operations, acquired and disposed of facilities and equipment, and retired equipment.  As a result, fixed assets were recorded in several systems and tagged by varying conventions, or not tagged at all.  Much of the equipment movement between facilities, disposals, and acquisitions from mergers and purchases of businesses had not been verified against the fixed asset records that existed.  Leased and vendor equipment needed to be clearly distinguishable from owned equipment, both in the records and by physical tagging.

THE APPROACH
It was decided to focus on Crystal’s main processing facility in Modesto, California, and its recently acquired northern creamery in California’s Humboldt County.  With 25 acres of equipment under roof at the Modesto facility alone, planning was critical.

After several planning sessions, tours, and dry runs with Crystal’s operations and finance team, Morrison developed facility schematics, count and tag procedures, and logistics to conduct a count and tagging of the specified asset groups.  Morrison’s professionals led four count teams that were also comprised of one person each from Crystal’s operations and finance departments.  A separate team of two Morrison professionals travelled to the Humboldt facility to conduct counts there in conjunction with Crystal’s staff.

“When we started the project it seemed like an overwhelming task to update over 7,500 fixed asset records.  The team from Morrison & Co. helped us manage the process in an organized, systematic way where each team was broken out into specific areas of the plant.  The four operations and finance teams were paired up with a Morrison employee who helped manage the process.  By the end of the project the teams were excited to see the results and felt a real sense of accomplishment in helping the company complete this significant goal.” –

Jim Haff, Director of Financial Accounting, Crystal Creamery

THE RESULTS
The count and tagging was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.  A listing was created that included asset descriptions and model numbers, serial numbers, location within the facilities, status (e.g., owned, idle, leased, vendor equipment), and in some cases photos.  Follow up procedures were suggested, including suggestions for developing ongoing procedures to accurately maintain fixed asset records. 

After the count, Crystal brought on a fulltime fixed asset accountant who entered the data and now maintains the fixed asset records.  Crystal was able to use the updated information to successfully file for refunds of past property taxes, which more than exceeded the cost of the project.