Gemini Industries: The art and science of improvement

Case study: How Gemini Industries switched to digital payments and weathered the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gemini Industries is well-versed in the art of improvement. Founded in 1964, the Oklahoma-based company manufactures interior and exterior wood coating products, like stain and varnish, that help make interior and exterior spaces beautiful. From decks to kitchen cabinets to floor coatings, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a new level of demand for their products that has presented many challenges—and opportunities to evolve and improve systems and processes—for the Gemini team.

Just before the onset of the pandemic, Gemini’s accounting team started working with Capital One to switch many of their purchases over to a digital accounts payable solution, Virtual Card Relay. This allowed them to streamline their accounts payable and digitize processes, which served them well during a work-from-home period beginning in March 2020.

While the company experienced a slowdown in sales in March and April 2020, things quickly turned around, and demand for Gemini’s products picked up in May as people spending more time in their homes took on DIY projects or enlisted contractors to transform their indoor and outdoor spaces. Research from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies found that Americans spent nearly $420 billion on home improvements and repairs in 2020, and Gemini experienced a record sales year in 2020.

Increasing flexibility through digital payments

In a year of change, the accounting team was busy transitioning invoice payments to Capital One’s virtual card solution, allowing them to earn cash back rewards on purchases that they used to make by check or wire transfer. This also gave them more flexibility as the pandemic hit; there was no need to be in the office in order to print checks and secure a signature from the CFO, as the cloud-based platform gave them the flexibility to make payments from anywhere. 

“After 1.5 years of using the product, it’s become second nature, and it offers more flexibility for us when paying our vendors and partners,” said Brett Hawkins, controller at Gemini Industries.

Earning rewards to benefit all employees

As a 100% employee-owned company, Gemini team members have enjoyed the benefits of an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) since 2003. This allows every employee-owner the opportunity to attend monthly meetings to review the company’s financials, which creates a unique culture that means everyone is quite literally invested in the business’ success. 

After switching to Capital One’s virtual card product, they began earning several thousand dollars in cash back rewards each month, “created only by changing how we pay someone,” according to Hawkins. And these funds generated by the accounting team help contribute to the monthly bonuses that are paid out to each employee when the company exceeds budgeted numbers. 

“This is a way for us to make a direct impact on the company’s financials by capturing rebates, and even securing discounts if our vendors offer them for paying early. We’ve tried to find every payment possible that we can transition to put on the card,” said Hawkins. 

Looking to the future

Demand for Gemini’s products remains high in 2021, and the team is tackling new challenges: securing materials is harder than ever before, freight costs have skyrocketed and overseas shipping has been especially unpredictable. Purchasers on the team are busy finding new vendors to bring in more raw materials, and lab workers are experimenting with new formulas to accommodate for changes in supply. The accounting team will continue to find new ways to evolve their processes based on the company’s needs, like they did when they switched to Capital One’s virtual card product. 

Take the next step

To find out how Capital One can help your organization streamline its payments processes, visit capital.one/corporatecard.

 


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