Sustainability, the Key to Innovation

Staying relevant to your customers, NOT your industry, is the key to growth and innovation.Sustainability & Innovation

How does a 30+ year old company continue to see growth and innovation year after year? By maintaining a mindset of sustainability.

Let’s talk about sustainability.

It’s more than just recycling.

I know what you’re thinking.  Sustainability? Visions of granola, nature walks, recycling, and references to global warming come to mind. While the cliche “sustainability” does involve sustaining the environment, we can apply the same mindset to business.

Here’s how we did it.

We stopped pegging ourselves as any specific industry.

For years, we advertised that we were in specialty plastic fabrication.  It was true. We had the best fabrication facilities, skilled staff, years of hands on plastic application knowledge, and there was lots of business for us as specialty plastic fabricators.

Even though we had happy customers, lots of repeat business, and referrals,  we there was room to grow. We decided that we would base our business model on our customers needed rather than a label we placed on ourselves.

Change before you have to.

Jack Welch’s quote became a way of life for us. Instead of waiting until we needed to change, we started adding capabilities, bringing on skilled staff, and turning our plastic fabrication business into a full service product development company.

Listen.

Change is risky and sometimes expensive.  How did we know which changes to make? We asked our customers what they needed. They told us.

A lot of businesses (even us) are guilty of spending a ton of time focused on the value they offer a customer.  It’s not a bad thing. What we realized is that the most successful businesses that we could find were more focused on their customers’ businesses and the challenges they were facing.

Our customers were coming to us looking for help selecting the right type of plastic, mechanical engineering of plastic components, large scale plastic installations (Custom staircases, enclosures, bars, exhibits, etc.), process improvements within their own manufacturing facilities, electrical engineering for cables and assemblies, as well as reverse engineering & legacy product improvements.

Those requests led to the creation of our engineering department, program managers, material selection specialists, reverse engineering, manufacturing consultants, electronics testing facility, marketing and graphic design support services, and so much more.

Match communication styles.

Engineers communicate differently than accounts payable.  They’re both completely different than sales reps, end users, and CEO’s. It’s your job to learn how to work with each of them exactly the way THEY work.

I can’t tell you how many customers we would have lost if we hadn’t invested in relationships across various departments within their organization. Our product quality was beautiful, deliveries were on time, prices were competitive, but one tiny detail made all the difference.  Sometimes it was packaging things to help them manage inventory, or altering the invoice to better fit their process, or generating custom reports, and even making phone calls at key points during production. Things that we might have never even known they wanted if we didn’t communicate directly with everyone involved.

Be approachable.

Be easy to contact, welcome phone calls with warm responses, accept lunch invitations, and use people’s names when you talk to them. When anyone calls our office, we try to answer the phone on the first or second ring.  Everyone receives a warm greeting.  We answer our emails promptly, and it pays off.  One of the most common things we hear when customers give feedback is that we are very responsive and easy to work with.

Put us to the test, give us a call right now.

Don’t limit yourself.

Rather than instantly saying, “oh no, that’s not what we do, sorry.” We said, “I’m not sure, let me see.”

Note that we didn’t say NO, and we didn’t say YES. Somewhere in between is where we found the best results. Our clients knew we were being honest and that we were willing to put forth an effort to help them even if it was beyond our current capabilities.

The possibilities are endless.

Once we climbed out from behind the title of plastic fabricator, the growth was instant. We stayed flexible, accommodating, easy to work with, and open to change. As a result, we’re helping businesses of all sizes all over the world with things that we never could have imagined 30 years ago when we were simply plastic fabricators.

Want to learn more about how we have managed to sty relevant for 30 years in an ever changing economy? Give us a call.

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