- Headquarters: Aberdeen, UK
- Acquisition Date: January 2007
- Vertical Market: Supply Chain & Inventory Management
- Website: drams-software.com
DRAMS - The Rise of Distillery Records and Management System
The DRAMS story began in 1974, when the then Grampian Computers company developed a system to support their internal payroll and then began offering payroll bureau services to other businesses. The computer Grampian bought for the project had left them with excess capacity, and the managing director at the time saw an opportunity to use it to solve a tracking problem at Invergordon Distillers, his previous employer.
The solution was primitive by today’s standards but revolutionary at the time. Invergordon maintained paper records of their inventory transactions and sent them to Grampian every week by train. The Grampian team prepared punch cards to enter the data into the system, generating an updated inventory report which was then printed and sent back to Invergordon.
After a couple of redevelopments to take advantage of emerging technologies, the biggest step forward for DRAMS was its redevelopment for Windows in 1998, the same year the parent company rebranded to Grampian Software to reflect their focus on software development and implementation.
By 2005, Grampian Software was operating in multiple industries and looking to refocus the company’s direction. The managing director at that time decided to split the company in two: Grampian Software for the payroll/HR side and Grampian Software Holdings for DRAMS and for the company’s transit duty allocation system for bus drivers.
In 2007, Volaris (then Trapeze) acquired Grampian Software Holdings for their transit duty allocation system, and DRAMS, by then a complete solution for the management of maturing spirit inventory, went along for the ride.
When Volaris acquired Grampian Software Holdings their initial focus was on the transit side of the business. DRAMS at the time of acquisition had just a few dedicated staff working on the product to support the dozen or so clients using the DRAMS system. Then in 2009, DRAMS began drawing attention in its own right.
Growing Interest in DRAMS
The beverage giant Campari Group first engaged with DRAMS in 2006 when they entered the Scotch market with their acquisition of the Glen Grant distillery. Left without the spirit management system used by the previous owner, the Campari Group contacted DRAMS for its expertise in the market. DRAMS managed to get its systems up and running for Glen Grant in two months. When the Campari Group subsequently acquired Wild Turkey distillery in 2009, they looked to DRAMS again, and it was at this time DRAMS made its entry into the bourbon space and US market.
As word of DRAMS’ success spread in the distillery industry, Bacardi-owned John Dewar & Sons entered into discussions for management of their Scotch inventory. Bacardi liked what they heard, and soon had drawn DRAMS into its rum and tequila markets which gave the then tiny DRAMS operation a unique opportunity to transform into a global powerhouse.
The Rising of DRAMS
Seeing the growth opportunities that the interest from these big producers were presenting for DRAMS, it was clear to Volaris that the business needed dedicated leadership and additional resources to continue on its growth trajectory. They started looking within the Grampian Software Holdings organization for the next generation of leaders to lead and grow the DRAMS business.
Current DRAMS CEO Brendan Flood, who this year celebrates 25 years with the company, was Grampian's senior solutions architect at the time. Brendan had just completed a massive overhaul of Grampian’s main transit solution and was looking for the next opportunity to try something different. “I had been having conversations with the Grampian management team about the next steps and was considering a move out of the company into something else with a growth opportunity,” he said.
The timing was right for Brendan. He accepted the new role leading a revitalized DRAMS team, recruiting additional developers, and bringing in customer care resources from Grampian to focus on supporting existing DRAMS customers, allowing the senior implementation consultant to focus on solution delivery.
Building the DRAMS Brand
The functionality of the DRAMS product had evolved considerably in the 13 years since Brendan had first worked on it as a junior developer back in 1998, with the exception of the user interface which had largely remained the same.
Soon after Brendan and the new DRAMS team had successfully delivered the large Bacardi projects, they shifted their focus to creating the infrastructure to support future growth. This included improving their product offering by overhauling the user interface, investing in the development of new products such as long-term planning and the DRAMS barrel scanning solution, and developing the DRAMS brand – designing a logo, building their own website, and restarting the user group program.
In keeping with Volaris best practices, DRAMS continued with their collaborative approach to product development. Although traditionally focussed on record keeping and compliance, they found that the exposure to a broader customer base brought new ideas and new requests for expanded real-time product offerings. Engaging with customers to garner feedback at their user group events, customer workshops and special interest groups are just some of the methods used by the DRAMS team to inform decisions regarding future product development.
The Future for DRAMS
Since becoming their own business unit within Volaris in 2017, DRAMS has seen significant growth, embracing the opportunities to move into new spirit sectors and growing from a team of 10 to a team of 20. The expanded team has developed multiple add-on products and are investing in the redevelopment of the original product to keep it modern and meeting the needs of their customers.
DRAMS has set its sights on expansion within the larger companies that dominate the American distillery market and are investing in the rapidly expanding Irish whiskey and tequila markets.
“With the backing and support of Volaris we’re investing heavily in the next iteration of DRAMS solutions. Being more strategic in our approach is where we have benefitted most from the discipline Volaris has brought to us since the acquisition.”
- Brendan Flood, CEO, DRAMS