Bernick’s Drives Entrepreneurial Experience with SilkRoad


SilkRoad Results

  • Savings of $168,000
  • Faster new hire productivity
  • Achieved time-to-hire goal of 42 days
  • Increased learning engagement

Challenges Solved

  • Streamlined a paper-intensive recruiting process
  • Presented a more attractive brand to activate
  • Strengthened social recruiting to reach wider candidates
  • Created employee-friendly learning that was easy to access
  • Eliminated manual onboarding, saving hours of time per new hire

Changing Industry Drives Fresh Approach

Although innovation is not normally associated with the beverages, it is, in fact, an industry going through rapid change. Bernick’s, a 100 year-old, family-owned distributor of beverages, vending products and services based in Minnesota, needed a talent strategy to manage that change with their over 650 employees. “We have 4,100 SKUs of different craft beers, service 170 different suppliers and manage multiple new agreements and acquisitions,” said Kelly Walz, director of human resources, Bernick’s. “Our talent approach required supporting an entrepreneurial spirit and a plan to double in size by 2020.”

SilkRoad Selected to Support Entrepreneurial Spirit

The HR team created a 3-part strategy: hire, develop and promote, and then realized they needed new technology to support it. “Our applicant tracking system didn’t have basic tools, bells and whistles and there was low engagement with our learning system,” Walz explained. “Onboarding was handled manually by an HR team member, which was a challenge when hiring 70+ people in the summer as well as the cost of traveling to locations and printing out manuals.”

To meet its fast-changing needs, Bernick’s selected SilkRoad Recruiting, SilkRoad Onboarding and SilkRoad Learning. “We initially looked for recruiting and learning management systems and discovered quickly that SilkRoad was the answer,” said Cheryl Lemke, training specialist, Bernick’s.

Onboarding was really huge for us from two perspectives. We achieved productivity with new hires more quickly and gained savings of $168,000 through automation.
– Kelly Walz, Bernick’s

Recruiting Strategy Focuses on Building Brand and Social Media

Bernick’s faced a difficult recruiting challenge in its territory, competing with oil jobs in North Dakota. Through SilkRoad Recruiting, Bernick’s was able to successfully execute a hiring strategy that reduced time-to-hire to meet its goals of 42 days from requisition receipt.

Lemke describes SilkRoad Recruiting as providing many more options than the previous system. “Online requisitions helped us eliminate paper and time, especially the duplicate function for hiring over 70 employees during our busy season,” explains Lemke. “Multiple job boards are available to pick what works best for us, even setting up college job boards easily. Running a report is quick to help us identify the status of a position and more. ”

In addition to internal benefits, Bernick’s also strengthened its brand on its career web site to attract more candidates through new content, testimonials about why employees like to work there, people photos and an attractive design. The company also implemented a social strategy, including the ability to auto-post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Jobs were also opted into Mobile Indeed Apply by default. “It’s clear that more applicants are applying through mobile devices since over 56% of total clicks came from mobile this year,” said Carolyn Merten, recruiter, Bernick’s. “A strong social strategy has played a key role in meeting our fulfillment goal.”

Greater Engagement in Learning

Using SilkRoad Learning, Bernick’s turned around a challenging situation of inconvenience for team members, extensive travel and training time and no easy way to communication about recertifications.

“We now can assign courses based on job type, employee type and location which makes it much easier for employees,” said Lemke. “Training information is now consistent across locations and easy-to-find which has helped engagement.” Bernick’s simplified recertification with automatic assignments and notifications and engaged employees with the 90+ courses offered through SilkRoad’s partnership with Open Sesame.

“We also had the opportunity to assign new goals when we deployed the system, which gave us a fresh start with employees to show what’s new and opportunities for personal development,” said Walz.

Time and Money Saved with Onboarding, Transfers and Offboarding

Buy-in for onboarding was critical because supervisors viewed it as “another change. ”Those supervisors have now become our best advocates,” said Walz. “We saved all sorts of steps and time, which was really important for us.” Timely information now goes to supervisors, new hires, HR and IT to initiate computer orders, equipment needs, system access and more.   All forms are completed before Day 1 and I-9s are done on time, so new hires can focus on training and their new role more quickly.

To engage and train new hires, the team created “day-in-the-life” videos for the portal, which provides insight into the culture, daily responsibilities and service expectations. The portal also offers additional orientation information that new hires can view when it best works for them.

“We also use SilkRoad Onboarding for transfers, setting up training, location information and all the other things that support an employee change. The system also helps us manage smooth offboarding by using the task lists to manage the steps for a departing employee,” said Lemke.

“Onboarding was really huge for us from two perspectives. We achieved productivity with new hires more quickly and gained savings of $168,000 through automation,” said Walz. The company’s ROI included $127,000 in onboarding, $32,000 in offboarding and $9,000 in transfers as well as a 98% paper-free process.

Results Create Big Fans

“The SilkRoad team did one heck of a job. They listened, provided suggestions and responded quickly. We are big fans and, as a refreshment distributor, can’t wait to see what SilkRoad brews up next,” summarizes Walz.


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