GLTAAC case study: Market research leads to growth and exports for Indiana manufacturer

In May 2010, Ron Overton, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Overton Industries, (Mooresville, IN), was confident that with some marketing push, he could jump-start top-line growth for his company. Looking back today, Overton says, “we were hit hard by the recession like everyone was. We weren’t in a crisis, but we were working hard to avoid one.” Via the GLTAAC program, Ron got in touch with a market research group who, in preliminary discussions, helped Overton identify an area where lack of marketing action was probably costing them a lot of sales. All agreed the Tube Forming Systems division would be a good place to focus.

Project 1 – Market Research

The Tube Forming Systems division manufactures equipment that can form tubes in a wide variety of unique and complex ways. Overton’s machines have advantages that help them outperform the competition on certain tasks and under certain conditions. Through a professionally conducted market research project, the consultant identified target industries and even target lists of clients where Overton’s machines had the best chance for success. Their project with the marketing research firm was completed in June 2011.

Project 2 – Marketing Consulting

Through an industry trade association (the National Tooling & Machining Association, NTMA), Overton was able to identify a sales and marketing consultant to help translate the “learning” from the research into a marketing plan. As a third party with decades of experience in manufacturing, this individual has been able to help Overton in several ways over the past 18 months.

First, he led the three brother-owners through a process to help clarify their vision for the company. Then he helped them design a marketing strategy for the Tube Forming Systems division. This included upgrading the website, training the sales team, succession planning and a more disciplined approach to trade shows.

Ron Overton is satisfied with the results so far. “In 2012 we reached our highest sales level ever for the company — $17 million, a 20% increase over 2011. And we’re on target to meet our goal of reaching $20 million by 2015. “

Part of Overton’s bright outlook for the future lies in exports. Several of the new customers interested in working with Overton are from abroad. The marketing consultant has guided their efforts to court these customers and helped Overton “work” the international trade shows. So in April 2013, Overton executives traveled to Hannover, Germany to attend the Hannover Messe and visit prospective clients. This month (May 2013) they exhibited for the first time at FabTech Mexico.

Initial feedback from both of these trips has already exceeded expectations. “It’s still early to say how much new business we’ll win from Mexico,” comments Zac Overton, a sales & applications engineer and third generation member of the team. “But we were impressed with the quality of the inquiries we received. They were walking up to the booth to discuss specific problems with parts in hand. They weren’t just window shopping.”

The team that went to Germany reports that the pre-scheduled meetings during the Hannover Messe were exceptional. “Companies like Cummins are only 30 minutes down the street. By meeting them in Germany, they recognized us as having international capability and now we feel we’re talking to the right people,” shared Scott Buie, General Manager of Tube Forming Systems.

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