Manufacturing / Ecommerce case study

JL Marine Systems

JL Marine Systems

Tampa-based JL Marine Systems started out making shallow-water anchors to help boaters control their small skiffs and flat boats. As the company’s vision has evolved to encompass “total boat control,” its product line has expanded to include tools that manage all on-board accessories and power. This strategy has driven significant growth. Sales have almost tripled month-over-month in the past year, and employee headcount has tripled since 2013, including the addition of an outside-sales team that travels the country. Other channels to market include boat manufacturers (OEMs), national retailers, boat dealers, and the company’s own ecommerce-enabled web site.


Tax challenges

  •  Explosive growth in transactions and tax jurisdictions
  •  Managing 1,200 exemption certificates across multiple channels
  •  Need to integrate sales tax automation to both ERP and ecommerce systems

Business systems

  • Everest [ERP]
  • Magento [ecommerce]

Avalara Products


Results

  • Saving the finance team 5-10 hours per week managing sales tax
  • Adding new states with a click
  • Easy management of exemption certificates and capture at point of sale.

Growing Sales Tax Challenges

JL Marine’s systems were not optimized for the explosive growth in transactions, channels, and nexus obligations. The company calculated sales tax using Everest, its ERP system, and filed directly with the state of Florida, but found that workload unsustainable in the face of a large upsurge in business, especially online.

“We upgraded our ecommerce system using Magento in 2017, and sales doubled in the first month,” says Jean Treimanis, the company’s CFO. “Dealers started using our ecommerce system to place their orders, creating click-through nexus obligations in states beyond our direct sales team’s coverage area. We realized that staying in compliance as we added states was going to require something else.”

Jean had worked as the company’s outside accountant since 2005, joining the company full-time in 2013. “I came on board during a massive sales-tax audit by the state of Florida,” she recalls. “Missing exemption certificates were a huge issue, and we got hit with significant penalties.”

Jean initiated the search for a sales tax solution and determined that Avalara’s certified integration with Everest made it the obvious choice, since the company had just invested in a major upgrade. “Changing ERP systems is a massive, painful project, and we wanted to avoid that if we could,” says Jean. “Avalara gave us a way to minimize that pain and improve our sales tax compliance at the same time.”

Implementing the Avalara Solution

JL Marine implemented Avalara’s Sales Tax Suite in conjunction with the Magento upgrade and needed to make sure that both systems integrated fully with Everest. “The Avalara team worked constantly with Everest and our own IT people to make it work. We went live in July 2017 and haven’t had an issue since. It has been amazing.” Today the company uses Avalara AvaTax to calculate sales tax at the point of transaction in both Everest and Magento — on quotes, sales invoices, and credit memos. When a change is made to a document, the tax is recalculated in real time, using current rules and rates. Avalara CertCapture integrates to collect exemption certificates at checkout and only allows an exemption when we have the certificate. And Avalara Returns automatically imports the company’s transaction and tax data, then prepares and submits all forms, along with payments, to each taxing authority.

This fully automated, fully integrated suite allows Jean to add states with just a click of her mouse — which is coming in quite handy as JL Marine expands its footprint across several states. “We anticipate being in nearly every state soon,” says Jean. “I need to be ready for that. Avalara allows me to be proactive rather than reactive.”

Reaping the Benefits

Jean reports many benefits since implementing the Avalara suite. “It really has made the whole process more manageable,” she says. “I don’t even have to think about it.”

Filing tax returns is much easier, she says, and having all of the company’s sales tax information stored in one place has taken the pain out of audits as her team no longer has to verify information manually. “I feel confident with what we can provide to any state auditor who comes in,” says Jean. “And we can do it remotely because they can access my information easily over the internet.”

Perhaps the biggest impact of the Avalara implementation is in the management of exemption certificates — the company manages 1,200 of them. Whether a reseller calls on the phone or places an order online or through a sales rep, Everest makes the call to Avalara to check for a certificate. And CertCapture makes it easy to send out emails to notify customers when their certificates are due for renewal. “It’s keeping us in compliance and helping to train our customers,” says Jean, “making it easy for them to provide the certificate at the point of sale.”

Jean says that she and her team have been liberated to focus on the company’s financial strategy. “On average, we’re saving five to ten hours per week, even as the number of transactions has grown exponentially,” says Jean. “My goal is to work 50 hours per week instead of 60, so I can spend more time with my family.”

“I’m very impressed with Avalara, and with the Avalara team,” she says.“Everything runs very smoothly.”


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Avalara Sales Tax Suite

Avalara supports quick deployment by providing over 600 pre-built integrations to business applications.

Avalara AvaTax

Delivers sales tax calculations to your shopping cart or invoicing system, and aggregates your transaction data so you can calculate what you owe in Returns.

Avalara Returns

A filing service so seamless you’ll barely lift a finger -- Returns pulls your data from AvaTax to prepare and file your returns. If you choose, we can even remit payments for you.

Avalara CertCapture

A seriously upgraded way to manage tax documents in the cloud for tidy, audit-ready records. Syncs with AvaTax to automatically apply exemptions at checkout.

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