GLTAAC Case Study: Caster Concepts transforms business
Caster Concepts, a manufacturer of industrial casters based in Albion, Michigan, completed the TAAF program with several very successful projects. Through their diligent efforts, and with their own resources supported by $75,000 of TAAF co-funding, Caster Concepts transformed the way they operate their business and reach customers.
New directions and new challenges
The company manufactures standard heavy duty casters as well as highly engineered casters for specialized applications. Company President, Bill Dobbins, took over the business founded by his father. Stepping in to lead the firm just a few years before the Great Recession, Bill drew on his former career as a physician by encouraging continuous learning and direct communication. He saw opportunities to elevate how the business operated and had to balance running the business day-to-day while also committing to initiatives that would drive longer-term success. The recession of 2007 challenged the firm as customers put projects on hold and foreign competition continued to increase. The company stayed the course and remained committed to its long-term goals.
Refining the plan
Caster Concepts began working with GLTAAC in late 2009 as the recession was starting to ebb. Putting together a plan of action was vital for refocusing their goals, and Caster Concepts made the most of its planning process with GLTAAC. With an updated plan in place, they were ready to take specific and meaningful action on their business goals. Bill commented, “We had several initiatives underway, but we needed more structure around what we wanted to achieve. GLTAAC’s planning process and report helped us refine our goals and make specific plans for using our funds.”
Bill focused on implementing an ERP system and putting into place all the needed training. As part of the new system, cost-accounting needed to be revisited. At the same time, he needed to accelerate Caster Concepts’ growing sales and differentiate the firm from their competitors. Bill recognized his company’s superior engineering knowhow and set out to promote these capabilities. Working with his plan, Bill set priorities as he trained employees, implemented a major ERP system, improved cost accounting for better decision making, and pursued Internet marketing to help reach new customers.
Website and Internet marketing
As the production floor embraced its new system, Bill set his sights on sales and marketing. He worked with a marketing and design firm to redesign and launch a new website. Given the large and fragmented number of potential customers needing a product such as casters, he recognized the value of keywords and SEO (search engine optimization). He used additional funding to advance their online presence with Internet marketing, videos and blog posts, all of which contributed to the website’s visibility.
Importantly, he added an online configurator that allows customers to design their product and submit their order. Together, these projects brought more meaningful visitors to the website, promoted the firm with updated blogs, videos and content, and encouraged visitors to begin their order.
Bill commented,“Our website management and Internet marketing activities have evolved and become more sophisticated as we used these tools. It is now a vital piece of new sales development.”
Caster Concepts made the most of its TAAF co-funding. Throughout these projects, the company was willing to make a long-term commitment to using new tools. The effort is paying off. The company is operating with more robust management systems, and their website is a key element of sales. With these tools, management is able to operate more efficiently and make faster decisions. This creates the environment for better sales and customer responsiveness.
Bill states, “The projects that GLTAAC has supported Caster Concepts on have had a significant and continual positive impact on the business.”