Helping a Manufacturer Confidently Move into an Adjacent Industry | By Paul Miklautsch
Creating industry diversification when the markets shift.
The client, a middle market manufacturer, was focused on fulfilling the overwhelming demands for products in their most profitable market, oil and gas. While experiencing strong sales they poured the majority of their resources into this segment and were caught off guard when the market crashed at the end of 2014. With the market change, orders for new instrumentation dried up and it wasn’t clear when orders would start to increase again.
It became evident that they had lost focus on their other markets and needed to look for new opportunities to regain market share. It was time to diversify industries that our client served so that future imbalances wouldn’t affect the overall health of the company. A stable and growing industry is Water and Wastewater, in which our client had minimal sales and wanted to significantly grow market share.
The Bold team, who had never been to a wastewater plant, had to get up to speed quickly on our client’s instruments, the environment the instruments were used, and understand how different stakeholders used and managed instrumentation.
In our secondary research, it showed there were different sizes of wastewater plants depending on their urban or rural location and a mix of the age of infrastructure and plants. We mapped out the plants we wanted to visit and scheduled our first wastewater tours.
Our first stop was in Chandler Arizona. The growing population in this region had resulted in the newer infrastructure of sewer lines and new and expanding wastewater plants. In addition, Intel had a high-tech semiconductor manufacturing operations in Chandler with investments at this plant of over $21 billion since 1996. This is important to understand because industrial manufacturers send their process and excess water and wastewater to the municipal wastewater treatment facilities. This not only provides a revenue stream for the municipal wastewater plant, but it also requires understanding the effluent of the industrial plants to ensure the municipal plant can effectively treat it.
On all our plant tours, we talked with the plant managers and were giving tours by operators to understand each step in the process so we could see first-hand instrumentation being used throughout the whole plant. While each plant looked similar, each one operated very differently based upon the design, applications, and equipment that was being used.
During the plant tours and conversations with plant managers, operators, maintenance, and engineers, we heard and observed their challenges and pain-points.
We captured one hundred and two problems and then mapped each one to stakeholders and the environment so we could understand where they occurred and who was affected by each one. The next step was to prioritize and rank problems by four categories: Urgent for Customer, Importance in the Market, Reward for our client, and complexity to deliver.
A strategy became clear as we saw opportunities to “win with current products” and “win with new products.”
Win with Existing Products
Our client had products that worked great in the water and wastewater plants, but customers weren’t aware of their capability in their applications. As a German owned business, our client commonly focused on technologies and specifications, but customers were looking for solutions. There were five opportunities for our client to win with existing products, each one described the stakeholder affected, their problem, and a series of ideas.
Win with New Products
There were unmet needs that were identified during our research that fit well with our client’s strengths and capabilities. By observing the installation of a control box at a plant, there were incremental improvements that could be made to simplify the process and increase the ease of use. There were seven product opportunities identified, each solving a unique application need.
In six weeks from start to finish, Start Something Bold delivered an in-person presentation to the President, Director of Sales, and Director of Marketing that included a slide deck and two summary books.
The client had a greater understanding of the opportunities in a wastewater plant. These insights lead to product recommendations to the R&D team in Germany which later resulted in the development of a new product built specifically for this industry, the addition of an Industry Manager and new sales channel to promote existing products, and specific new marketing campaigns to build awareness of the client’s instrument expertise in wastewater applications.
By Paul Miklautsch - November 25, 2019