Seeing Past the Immediate Need

A case study about Garratt-Callahan

Everyone knew the highly technical process for chemical calculations used by a nationwide sales force of this 100 year old water treatment company had to be overhauled. It was only during the discovery process that the larger need for a radically improved client management system was revealed.

Founded in 1904, Garratt-Callahan (G-C) is one of the largest privately-owned water treatment companies in North America. The company delivers custom solutions for a wide variety of customers, from the US government to the manufacturing, hospitality, and health care industries. G-C takes pride in the simple, powerful values of fairness, integrity, and honesty.

Our Process

How Garratt-Callahan turned passive data into business insight.

In the Face of Change

Jim Gamlen faced a tough choice. The software he had commissioned only a few years earlier was costing too much to maintain and update, a problem exacerbated by his company’s rapid growth. As Technical Director for Garratt-Callahan, Gamlen knew he needed to streamline the way the organization prepared and reported bids. With over 35 years of experience in the industry, he also knew that change could be disruptive, especially to hundreds of sales engineers across the country that were hungry for a competitive edge.

When Gamlen was introduced to productOps he initially planned to replace an outdated FoxPro application that had to be manually updated and required constant patches and bug fixes. Discussing the possibilities with productOps changed his perception. "Talking it through with productOps made me realize that our old system got in the way, not only for sales engineers, but for the team at corporate who had to manually aggregate prospect and sales data in hundreds of spreadsheets each week. We were wasting about two million dollars a year in labor that could be better spent helping customers."

A Thoughtful Process

A new approach was needed. But as productOps CEO Bob Cagle puts it, architecting a technical solution was only half the challenge. "We spoke with seasoned sales people in the field and had them explain how they went about selling and tracking their work. We talked with the corporate team, which included the CEO and his senior management. The conversations revealed a process that worked fine when the company was smaller, but now that they had grown, the process had become fragile and it took a significant amount of time. We knew there had to be a way to create a more efficient workflow, one that would give everyone, the sales team and the executive staff, the information they needed without everyone becoming a slave to the system."

This focus on the big picture paid off. productOps built G-C Ops, a customized customer relationship management (CRM) and bid development application. Built from the ground up as a cross-platform system, it allows the sales force to use both Mac and Windows laptops, work offline and sync data when a network connection is available. Sales engineers can make very specific chemical calculations in the field that are needed to prepare bids and their work gets automatically rolled up into dashboards viewable by district, regional and corporate managers in real time. Automatic updates of news feeds about each customer account insure the sales team is informed of up to the minute market changes.

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"You should have seen everyone's eyes the first time we all started using the salesforce management dashboards at corporate."

Business Before Technology

That functionality was a big win for G-C. But it is only half of what G-C Ops provides. Regional and corporate users see all of the aggregate sales data as it is updated in real time. What used to take hours to roll up at the beginning of each week is now instantly available. Sophisticated charts and drill-down capabilities are built into G-C Ops.

"You should have seen everyone's eyes the first time we all started using the sales management dashboards at corporate," Gamlen says. "All of the busywork we used to have to do to pull that information together had been magically swept away, and now we had it all in one place. Not only that, we had actionable information. We could really dig into the underlying data and use it to position our sales engineers better."

The work productOps and G-C put into understanding business needs paid off in a product that far exceeded original expectations. A few months after G-C Ops went live, Cagle and productOps CTO Dean Pfutzenreuter were invited to Garratt-Callahan's annual sales meeting. When they were introduced to the assembled sales team, they were given a standing ovation.

While G-C Ops was a tremendous success, that's not end of the story. productOps and G-C have forged a tight relationship and are working on more projects that will streamline processes and improve G-C's bottom line.

Project Overview



  • The client application ties into a variety of third-party APIs to find and present relevant information such as news and financial information about customer organizations.


  • The client application (Mac/Windows) was built with Adobe Flex
  • The server application was built on the LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) stack.


  • Using Agile methodology, the server-side and client application were developed in tandem.
  • Functionality was demonstrated early and often in the development process.