Business consulting: Manufacturing eCommerce Sales

In this week’s exit your way round table, we talked about eCommerce. Success in businesses, and everything one needs to know about the establishment of ecommerce sales channels for manufacturers. Curt Anderson is the renowned author of “Stop Being The Best Kept Secret”. A book on how to excel in ecommerce strategies.

In this week’s exit your way round table, we talked about eCommerce. Success in businesses, and everything one needs to know about the establishment of ecommerce sales channels for manufacturers. Curt Anderson is the renowned author of “Stop Being The Best Kept Secret”.  A book on how to excel in ecommerce strategies.

Curt is an eCommerce evangelist for manufacturers and the perfect person to help us understand the perks of business and eCommerce for manufacturing businesses.

His goal is to help people establish the best e-commerce practices in manufacturing businesses. In this conversation, Anderson starts off by mentioning some details about the beginning of his eCommerce journey. He talks about how he started his first business in 1995. His business flopped, but the experience helped him to where he is now in his career helping manufacturers adopt eCommerce sales.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

The major ideas that Anderson shared in his talk were about big businesses and new concepts that started small but reached worldwide success. He talks about Amazon, Starbucks, and other worldwide chains that developed by selling an idea to the world. These were new philosophies at that time but they shaped the future for the better.

According to Anderson at the beginning stages of the eCommerce market, the world did not understand the concept of buying and selling online. Now a days its one of the most profitable ways for businesses to make money for their company. With COVID-19 effecting businesses all over the world eCommerce has never been more important to companies.

One thing that Curt thinks is important to understand in the eCommerce industry, is the buying and selling of a business. Anderson believes that selling a business is a very strategic task and requires a good amount of knowledge and he shows this buy sharing his remorse at the time he sold his own business without proper knowledge.  He mentions that the expertise provided by Exit Your Way would have been incredibly valuable in his business preparation and sale.

Do you want to know if your business is ready for your exit or what you should do to prepare? Learn this and more with our business exit assessment here.

Curt stresses the importance of eCommerce training for the further generations as it is the future for businesses. Thanks to Curt for sharing his time and knowledge about eCommerce.

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Damon Pistulka  00:02

Alright everyone, thanks for stopping by once again with us at the exit your way Business Roundtable. With me today. I have Curt Anderson from b2b tail. Welcome Curt


Curt Anderson  00:17

Damon. Thank you, buddy. I this is an honor and privilege to be with you on LinkedIn live tonight. How great Well, it’s tight where I’m at. So


Damon Pistulka  00:25

yeah, yeah. Well, you’re in. You’re in New York, and I’m on see I’m in Seattle. So it’s, we’re about opposite as we can be. And


Curt Anderson  00:34

it’s right.


Damon Pistulka  00:35

Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s great to get you on Kurt. Your your as as many people may or may not know you are the ecommerce evangelist for manufacturers. And so can you take us back a little ways and kind of lead us to how the heck did you get to e commerce?


Curt Anderson  01:01

Great question, man. So e commerce and myself we we collided in 1995. guy that sounds like a long time ago. Doesn’t that?


Damon Pistulka  01:11

Number doubt? Because that’s


Curt Anderson  01:12

919 95. Remember when we were kids when we were young, and people like oh, back in the 50s? You know? That’s now us, you know? Yeah. And back in the 90s. So yeah, back in the clinton era. So yeah, at the time, I had a wholesale business, and I had two locations, they were about an hour apart. And man I was I was struggling. It was it was horrible. I was just a train wreck. I could written a book on how not to run a business. And just running ragged going in two different directions. And finally, I ended up closing one of the locations it just, it was just a disaster. My I took out a new accountant. And years later, she told me, You know what, you were the worst client that I’ve ever taken on.


Damon Pistulka  02:04

The worst. So


Curt Anderson  02:05

that was my claim to fame. And and she was a she was an ex librarian. She was so meek, in mild. I mean, she like her feet barely hit the floor when she sat in a chair. And she was just so polite. And years later, she was like, dude, you were the worst client. I don’t know how you ever survived. So yeah. So yeah, so I had a wholesale business 1995. And under remember, like, it was back in the Superbowl days, when America Online was advertising this whole new thing called the internet and get online and 14 for modems. And they were sending CDs out to you remember that they’d send out CDs where you get on your computer and get on this thing called the internet? Then there’s this thing called email.

Why on earth would I use email man, like if I could put a stamp on an envelope and why would I use my computer? Yeah, and I remember my buddies, my, my best friend’s parents were in our early 20s. At the time, they bought a computer from Dell, over the computer. I was like You what? I’m like, that is so odd. Like, why would you buy a computer over the computer? Like what is that? This is like a 1993 or I don’t know, sometime early. And I’m like, I was so intrigued and fascinated by that. And you remember, like, gateway was member computers or the callbacks? You know, they were out in your neck of the woods. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  03:28

I was. I was in the Dakotas at the time. gateway was big. I thought I was buying those computers. I was an IT guy at the company I worked for. And they were one of the first places like you said, like Dell, or you could order them online.


Curt Anderson  03:42

Yes. Crazy. Yeah, Ted Wyatt and his brothers. I was like I used to man I used to study gateway like crazy. I was so enamored with, with those guys and what with the I think with the challenge, they started to open up stores and when the downfall to me that’s my long winded answer. So I was really it was out of pure I’m running out of options I’m running out on like my luck’s running out. I don’t know what else to do. I’m struggling with this little wholesale business that’s driving me crazy.

I have no hair to show for it. And baldness runs nowhere in my family. I’m like an anomaly. So I blame my business for that. And so awesome to think I’m like, you know what, I’m gonna try e commerce. You know, I bought a domain name and put my business on e commerce. And trust me that was a it was a long, long, long transition transformation. I know. We’ve got Jeffrey Graham speaking first in a couple weeks talking about the transformation of the commerce.

So when when Google hit the scene, you know, I’m gonna say they became started becoming like a household name 2001 2002 ish, right in that range. When when you if you were an e commerce and when when, you know, back then it was you’re doing Pay Per Click on Yahoo. Yeah, it was Overture ads and Yahoo when Google hit the scene, man, that’s when things really changed. 2005 2006 was when you know social really started coming, you know, Twitter, you YouTube you know we started shooting YouTube videos like right away jumped on LinkedIn that other than that. And that’s when e commerce for my in my world really took off. And so that’s my long story short I was that way there wasn’t too short but that was my


Damon Pistulka  05:27

fine because I think Oh, we got Andrew Andrew stopping by and in the house. Yeah other than house, I just want to reach out to a couple of our shout out to a couple people. We got Nick Dorsey’s on the line with us here, Washington, Andrew Deutsch, from kind over your neck of the woods


Curt Anderson  05:42

is is drew my gathering Cleveland, thank you.


Damon Pistulka  05:45

Yep. So so we’re, we’re getting the the eastern United States presence as well. So, um, but yeah, you know, that’s, that’s an interesting when you start going into that background and and most people, you know, today think e commerce is Shopify and Amazon, but really the people that laid the, the groundwork for were companies like gateway computer and Dell and others that were, you know, they were the ones that were actually there with Brazilian people programming that stuff manually, trying to figure out how the healthiest sell stuff online, you know, they, I mean, it’s, it’s like, it’s like going from a vinyl album to Spotify. Kind of what we’re at now,


Curt Anderson  06:33

yeah, I got my, I think I’ve got my eight track player right over here with Jimi Hendrix and AC DC. And, you know, but Nicole, I thought, you know, you did an awesome job. You know, for the folks on Andrew Damon did, we did an e commerce bootcamp series, and for the SBA, and Damon did an awesome job with his presentation. And I really enjoy you kind of went down memory lane sharing with the folks of like, how did we get here?

You know, and, you know, if you’re not a history buff, or don’t care, then maybe it’s not relevant to but I think it’s really fascinating to see, especially the three of us are old enough to remember, you know,, boom, yeah. crash. Yeah, you know, if you guys were day traders, or by, you know, everybody in that country is buying stocks, in the late 90s, and yet excite calm and And, you know, all those companies back in the day, but you know, what’s funny is how Amazon just really kept, you know, I was, I was like, watching Amazon from day one.

And it just really kind of came through, on 911, in, you know, like, when the whole Enron thing happened, you know, Amazon went down to like, six bucks a share. And just, you know,

I think it would make it you know, they’re given their product away. And, you know, now the rest is history, but it’s, it’s fascinating, from a business standpoint of who survived, who had the guts, the courage to stand on, when you think of like, Jim Collins book, you know, going good to great, you think of the e commerce companies that had the wherewithal had the foresight, determination, courage to get to the other side, and help us to get to here, where those pioneers paved the path where now you can get on Shopify for 19 bucks a month, you know, where you can get WooCommerce for basically for free, you know, you know, so a lot of great things have happened in that time.


Andrew Cross  08:27

Yeah. So the, the, you know, the, the whole process of eliminating the middleman, you know, big too. And, and Damon was talking about that a little bit too, in Dell started that, you know, I was coming out of the auto industry, which was, you know, the old industrial, just keep the assembly lines running, build it, fill the yard full of inventory and product and then go to work on selling, what are the people needed it or not?

No, that’s where Dell is kind of cool. I did I do like talking about that, because they were the first to, they’re not going to fill a yard full of stuff there. You’re gonna you can call in and order it and they build it and it gets delivered. Right? No inventory, solves it solves a big problem that manufacturers have. So we know. Or Ford or GM, or those guys have had trouble because they built they over build and get stuck with inventory. And then they’re selling out of a loss and they flood the market. Yeah. Yeah. Over and over again. They do it.


Damon Pistulka  09:25

Yeah. I mean, it still happens still. You know, because they they’ve got to be able to you know, there’s just a production, they’re going to run that rate. No


Andrew Cross  09:36

way it is. Well, then ecommerce is just the next evolution. Right? So, you know, not necessarily they still have inventory and people are warehousing products and services, but sooner or later, it’s just a matter of I mean, that’s, I think that’s where Amazon is going is you get what you want, and it shows up at your door. We don’t feel how’s it for even a second. Yeah, we’re gonna get


Curt Anderson  09:57

to the point that we think of something that we want Nelson is going to be our doorbell is going to be ringing, you know, and I think I’m hungry. And then also, you know, the neck. But Andrew, you’re making a great point we’re in I think we just talked about real quick before you jumped on. We were talking about, you know, dow, you know, selling computers in like 9192, or, you know, over, you know, buying over the computer, and gateway being such an early, you know, and from a logistics standpoint was a logistic major hundred years ago in college, in that whole, just in time, almost that Toyota concept came into the American computer industry, and allowed gateway and Dell to be like, hey, what, what computer do you want? What do you what do you want in it?

They’re making it as you’re on the phone, or, you know, however you’re ordering it, you know, more or less, and shipping what you want. And it was just such a cutting edge concept. You know, and, and again, gateway did make it Dell so route. And, you know, obviously, we you know, we know, we’re Apple’s App, but it’s just fascinating, because at the time in early 90s, Apple was almost left for dead, you know, and they made their great comeback starting 9798 when the internet boom started, you know, so just kind of fascinating to see what’s happened then to what’s going on today.

And try to think about, you know, think about at you know, did you think we’d live long enough that we would be sitting there saying like Sears Kodak, all these companies that are in the digital graveyard? So we’re in our lifetime, will we see the downfall of Amazon? Will we see the downfall of apple? In what, where did they take their eye off the ball? Because eventually, at some point in time, you’re going to expect that they would go out and you know, something will happen? Yes, I’m like, okay, what’s gonna be the downfall of the Giants today? You know, they get woken up.


Damon Pistulka  11:46

Yeah. Yeah, definitely do, because that could happen. But you’re right. And as Andrew will say a lot is, is that, you know, that the smaller companies innovate. And when companies get so big, then lack of innovation is usually where the downfall come from. Right. So,


Andrew Cross  12:06

yeah, that that. I mean, that is why we like it exit your way. We like working with small, medium sized businesses. It’s where the action is. Yeah, but if we look at it, you know, 4050, I think it’s 49% of our GDP as small privately held businesses. That’s Think about it, you know, the upper scale that the 50%, you know, up above that the publicly traded companies, you know, they are only about 50% of our GDP, but all job creation comes from the lower middle market. All innovation comes from lower middle market, those guys don’t do you know, they have just access to huge, huge amounts of capital.

So if you, if you come up with a good idea, you’re going to get bought, you know, right. Yeah, right. Yeah. Read it, you know, they aren’t doing much themselves. Yeah. Right. far as that goes, and I think Amazon and those guys are similar.


Damon Pistulka  12:57

Yeah, you’re right. I mean, they’re refining a model, rather than than making a new model. I mean, that’s usually what happens in these companies is they, they can refine that model so much, and somebody else goes with that model doesn’t make sense anymore. This is where, again, much invested in that they can do anything. And you look at


Andrew Cross  13:17

the negative side of it, too, is they, you know, they’re suppressing some competition. That’s another reason they were right by the small guys just because they’re being a pain to them. Right? Yeah.


Curt Anderson  13:29

And what’s what’s fascinating, like, especially like with Andrew on the call, you don’t think about like, if you go back historically, like you think of Cleveland, and go back to Rockefeller, and you know, oil was such a disruption. And when I study that, you know, his tactics, and how he just vertically dominated, you know, the whole supply chain and bought up competition, so on and so forth.

And what’s fascinating is from when he got to the 1890s, into the 1890s, into the 20th century, the old guard from the oil industry, they were like, it’s kerosene, it’s kerosene for heating homes were heating homes, and all these new hot shots, especially from your alma mater, Andrew, you know, Michigan, you know, this new thing came out a car, this automobile, and all the young Hot Shots coming out of college in the night in at the turn of the century, were like, No, we need to put oil into these vehicles.

They’re like, wow, why would I drive a vehicle when I can just take my horse, you know, and so there was a lot of friction in a lot of resistance from the old guard oil guys fighting the Young Guard coming in and saying like, dude, you got to keep up with the with the times and the changes and what was fast and when they broke up. Rockefeller if I don’t have the stats to back this up, but Rockefellers wealth went up like something like tenfold because he had shares of, you know, almost every oil major oil company today can be traced back to Rockefeller when they split them up.

He had shares of Exxon and BP, you know, whatever the names of the companies were at the time Yeah, and he had all these shares of all these companies, they end up going public, his his wealth went just skyrocket after that. So there’s a lot of fascinating things that you can see historically in the oil industry and equate it into the internet age and you know, you can almost track these trends and see what Where are the similarities with distribution?


Andrew Cross  15:20

Yeah, it’s the same thing it creative destruction, right? Yeah. Yeah, JP Morgan did okay. He got his golden parachute.


Curt Anderson  15:30

Not JP Morgan did right. Yeah.


Andrew Cross  15:32

being broken. But I think it’s the ultimate sign of success is if you’re getting broken up by the government.


Damon Pistulka  15:38

Yeah. At that point, you know, you’ve done something and you brought up a good thing. Good point here too. He’s talking about catalogs like LL Bean Sears you know and even another one from appear the Eddie Bauer you know, some of these some of these catalog man, the catalog companies, man, even Montgomery Ward, I’m thinking back to his kid and stuff you know, all that some people have made the conversion you know, LL beans ones still around doing what they’re doing, but some just died when that? What are they weren’t able to do? It was amazing


Andrew Cross  16:17

to me was how long Sears? I mean, I don’t think they’re even completely dead yet. But they’re almost completely gone. But it’s amazing how long they lasted. I mean, yeah, I guess 150 years of business or whatever, they just unbelievable reserves, because then they haven’t been making money. You know, long.


Curt Anderson  16:39

Right? And it’s, and it is fascinating that that catalog company, you know, like, again, we’re all similar age, you think back to, you know, we’re growing up in the 70s. And, you know, the catalogue would come out and you’d sit there circle you want for holidays, or birthdays or whatever. And it’s just fascinating that those companies couldn’t make the transition. You know, I’m in New York, where, you know, you go to Rochester, New York, Rochester in the 60s, my sister was born there. And it was just a cutting edge.

You know, it was like the little mini Silicon Valley in 1960. with, you know, Xerox, Kodak, Bosch and Lom and to think about the to be in that boardroom, in the 1980s or 90s of Kodak and say, Gosh, darn it, you know what, we we live by film, we’re gonna die by film. And sure enough, they did. Yes. They like our legacy, you know, Mr. Eastman created film and we’re gonna, you know, stick with it no matter what, or Blockbuster Video, you know, we’re committed to our locations, they could have bought Netflix for 50 million bucks. It’s like, it’s, you know, but obviously, hindsight is crystal clear. But just the things that be on those boards at that time, and have made those decisions like we’re sticking with what we’ve always known in letting this disruption passes by as its second insanity. You know,


Damon Pistulka  18:08

and listen to you say that makes you realize even more how much I think Andrew, are you saying it the other day about? You hate the term? I we’ve always done it that way. Yeah. Deadly. It is invisible.


Curt Anderson  18:23

You know what? Being it again, I kid when we do talk, I kid around like, Oh, definitely. I wish I knew you guys. 10 years ago, I so I, you know, wholesale e commerce business. The day I the day, it hit me that I needed to sell my business even I don’t know if I told you this before. We were you know, having a little strategy meeting that. I’ve been there for 20 years. I would the words came out of my mouth. This is how we’ve always done it. Oh, I went home that night. And I and this is a gospel truth. Guys recommend dead. Four months later, I had sold the business. I was like, I’m done. I don’t know. I’ve been doing this too long. And I just I couldn’t recover. I was ready for a new, long, boring story.

I was ready for new chapter. But when it came out of my mouth, it was it was time it was time for Kurt to leave man. The business was doing phenomenal. But I had worn out my welcome. Yeah, I needed to check out or I wrist having the business go. So I’ve just been a blockbuster or Kodak hanging on to you know, whatever is going on.

And I always I tried to you know, I felt like, you know, when social media came out, man, we were first time. I’m like, nobody on this planet is ever going to use Twitter. Why on earth I remember I vividly remember when Twitter came out in ink magazine. I’m like, Who’s gonna sit in a coffee shop and type 130 characters I’m drinking a latte. Who cares? that social media platform will never work. So show up. I said, This is my second show my credibility, right? The same


Andrew Cross  20:03

thing about coffee. Because I had a buddy who got out. He was an engineer at GM. And he got out of that and started opening coffee shops. And he’s


Damon Pistulka  20:12

like, no.


Andrew Cross  20:15

I was like, how do you make money selling coffee?


Damon Pistulka  20:18

Yeah. Give it away. Yeah.


Curt Anderson  20:24

That’s classic. You know, my mother. My wife’s mother lives in Seattle. She’s in Bellevue. In 1993, my wife and I went out there to visit. And when we went out there, her aunt’s there. And so she’s first time I’d ever been in Seattle. She’s driving us all over the city. And I’m like, man, he knows big Microsoft days. And while Amazon was nowhere on even on the radar, and just fell in love with the city, you know, caught a mariners game, blah, blah, blah. And it kept talking about like, people in Seattle, go through this little thing.

It’s a little kiosk, you drive up and you buy a cup of coffee, and then you leave. I’m like, What was that? I came here. He kept talking about this company called Starbucks. This again, gospels truth, my wife guy could go get my wife to verify this. I called Starbucks. And they had there before their IPO. They had like their financial information or whatever. Yeah, I had that sit into my I probably got rid of that I had it sitting on my desk for ages never bought the stock. And I was like, man, there’s this company out in Seattle. It’s called Starbucks. I wonder. I just don’t think it’s ever going to take off here in New York. And that’s another one that Kurt’s classic. I missed the boat on that one.


Damon Pistulka  21:39

It is it is interesting how you see that? And you really know and you wonder, you wonder, from a social standpoint, now looking at things like Tick tock, Snapchat, even old now. But the popularity of a platform like Tick tock, are people going to really learn how to monetize that, like they did Twitter and Facebook and the other things because it you know, I honestly, I’m guilty is saying the same thing. I don’t know, tic toc well enough to understand it. But, you know, the popularity leads you to believe that that could be one of these next things that that really shapes the way that people sell things.


Andrew Cross  22:18

Well, Amazon was a bookseller.


Damon Pistulka  22:21



Andrew Cross  22:22

Right? How the hell did that Bezos, he must have done some fast talk how early which he does. But how did he get through his first Angel round, saying this?


Curt Anderson  22:32

Well, that was insane, evolve, you know, a great story, you know, he’s an investment banker, and, you know, was going with different categories. And in hindsight, back in the day, and again, when we’re talking about companies that missed the missed the mark, you look at, you know, what were the borders bookstore, Barnes and Noble. You know, they’re buying up every single little bookstore in the country. You know, what was that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie, got mail or whatever, you know, he was the big corporate guy and Meg Ryan and her little bookshop. Yeah, so you know, here at Barnes and Noble and borders are buying up every little bookstore you know, again borders being in Ann Arbor I had a buddy that was a buyer for borders.


Andrew Cross  23:16

I remember I lived there when they cleared out and they went


Curt Anderson  23:20

Yeah, and just man they were just crushing the market buying up everybody not knowing once again, they were going rate off a cliff there ain’t no idea that e commerce was on their heels and it’s a and the thing is even up into the 2000s and if I if I have this correct, they turned over their e commerce to Amazon so instead of them doing if I’m almost positive I did a blog post on this I caught and it’s called the e commerce graveyard. And I did like a study on like blockbuster and borders and you know, different companies.

Circuit City was the other one Circuit City started ran line but Circuit City was featured in Jim Collins Good to Great Yeah, yeah, it was one of the great companies and the son of the founder wrote a book called Good to Great to gone. And he talks about how the air and he comes right out and says the arrogance of the board, where they just blatantly ignored ecommerce and said, people will never buy online. They’ve got to come into the store and Damon and Andrew that’s, that’s where we are so passionate with the manufacturers because, unfortunately, you hear the same thing for manufacturers for years. And what went on in retail, it eventually is going to hit manufacturing, whether you like it or not just matter of fact,


Damon Pistulka  24:41

it is it’s a good turning point here in our discussion because what when we first started talking and and you and I were discussing how you’re helping manufacturers now. I really it started to relate to me and I know I did with Andrew Because we see that now in these companies, and when you do like we’re doing now we came about a different direction. Because we started, we’re in manufacturing. And then we started working with e commerce companies that weren’t necessarily manufacturing. Some of them were, but they’re ecommerce companies. And you specifically came the other direction from taking a manufacturing company and integrating e commerce with it. And being successful doing that. But we’ve arrived at the same place because it makes so much sense.


Andrew Cross  25:34

Well, we’ve mapped the process just to bring on manufacturing toolbox we met, this is our product does this is this distribution to this and this, and we’re like, well, let that go away. And that can go away. And that can go. Right.


Damon Pistulka  25:50

Yeah, and so when, when you started talking about how you’d helped the electronics company with the ground straps, and how a configurator allowed them to sell those ground straps to many other companies, they would have never seen, it started to get my mind going. And you know, since then we’ve talked about it, but the companies that that we’ve worked with, managed or consulted with in the past, you think of the ways that e commerce can help them now and I am just, I’m just over overjoyed that we’ve we’ve got this technology at our fingertips, and we can help clients do this, or people can do it however they want, but it’s available to them. Because when you look at the things that e commerce can do with a manufacturing company, it’s really pretty staggering, huh?


Curt Anderson  26:42

Yeah, absolutely.


Andrew Cross  26:44

Yeah. We, we love working with small companies like that, too, because we want them you know, and you know, what we face most of the time is the setup, more of the cards are stacked against them. I mean, it’s a slog, being a small business owner, and all the advantages the big companies have, especially when it comes to capital and access to capital and funding and everything else you got to deal with, it’s just another thing. But this is an opportunity for them. You know, it’s a weapon they can go use against the big guys.

And this is why, you know, like, I, when I was in the auto industry, I predicted, I was watching, I went through Ford, cutting back all their suppliers, they were knocking off all suppliers they want in Boeing did the same thing. Same yet, we want to have five suppliers. This became major, you know, they’re so big, they couldn’t go ecommerce if they wanted to.

But But what my prediction back then was when that was happening to us, because I was on the supply side working for Ford was, I was like, you know, you guys should be careful, because you’ve made this pretty easy for somebody with who’s well funded to pick up the phone five times, and put all the wires together and build a car. And I said, we could it would be Nike, or some marketing big, not who had a ton of cash that could get in our building brand. And I said, guess what? They’re way better at branding and marketing than you guys. Right. But Nike what turned out to be Tesla


Curt Anderson  28:15

was Tesla. Sure. Absolutely not. It’s a great, great prediction. So yeah, in the e commerce thing, it was, you know, for me, it was fascinating from when I sold my soul, my business, and I’ve shared this with you. So I was looking for a business to buy. And that’s my next book is going to be how not to buy a business. So I’m the authority and expert on that. But what I found was a lot of manufacturers in my area were, you know, struggling. You know, it’s a great thing about dealing with the small manufacturers, a lot of things are stacked against them. But I’ll tell you, man, when you hang out with an entrepreneur, there’s no one especially when you go when you meet a startup.

I’ve never met a startup that’s going in with the intention to fail, and they are the future sky’s the limit. You know, even if it’s a small amount of pop or a woman starting a daycare or guy starting whatever. entrepreneurs in general are optimistic people there have full people and even a manufacturer that gets beat up all day every day. Man they are stay still they wouldn’t trade it for the world. Yeah, one thing about entrepreneurs I think we all agree, we make horrible employees we’re just really unemployable to be honest.

And that’s why I love the Thursday exit your way calls because it’s a bunch of entrepreneurs solopreneurs and really just terrible employees and we just love hanging out we’re just trying to figure out how to hustle and make a little bit and have a good time doing what we’re doing. So that’s a great thing with so on eat, you know, the manufacturing ecommerce strategies that we keep talking about. When I started also when I was looking for business to buy as I was scouring all these businesses in e commerce conversation to come up and then Austin I turned into I’ve thrown out A consulting hat. And, you know, quick, quick, great story. So this one company, they were electrical motor distributor.

This was like in 2012, and had thousands of skews just a general electric distributor and nothing actually, they were selling commodities, just like thousands of other distributors. nothing unique about it had a horrible, terrible website. It was like a one page brochure that was embarrassing. They put on an e commerce Web Store, put on like hundreds of their products, started doing a little bit of marketing, they launched on a Monday by Friday, they’d laid at a $9,000 order. So here’s a company that was founded in 1919.

This was 2012 13, you know, so near 95 year old company, they’d service a 60 mile radius of their location for 95 years. They go on e commerce the first week, he landed a $9,000 order, the website was about five grand. So with their margin, they almost paid for the website. Here’s the sweet thing. The order came from New Zealand. So in that one order, almost paid for the entire website.

And they now just went international shipping. Nine $9,000 motor. Yeah, they could find a New Zealand because it’s New Zealand. Yeah, it was more cost effective for them to ship it there. Several months later, I’m in the shop, I went to visit them, Hey, how’s it going? up? They’re like, Hey, we just got wired. 80 grand from a customer that bought all these motors data, and we’re shipping it to Mexico. So like, total? Here’s a Yeah, third, third generation, 95 year old company, game changer, just a total game changer by putting up a $5,000 website and Koreans dipping their toe into an e commerce digital marketing strategy. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  31:52

yeah. And it’s amazing, because that kind of thing. Can that kind of thing? Literally can happen to just about any manufacturer,


Curt Anderson  32:01

right? Yeah. Right. Any? Any. And so to segue off of that, so I had another client is a woman business owned manufacturer, she was a hockey mom, her night grew very, very close. She was absolutely phenomenal. As matter of fact, her son, division one quarterback at Rutgers, so he’s a big 10 guy. And just a phenomenal athlete, mother’s ran a great business.

She manufactured machine gun bullet links, oh, even more links, so like, you know, the old cowboy movies where they’d have a, you know, strap of bullets around their shoulder, they’re all linked together, she sold those links that go like a machine gun, bullet links, yeah, machine gun bullets. She made the links that were not in the bullets. That’s what she did. But you know, 3040 employees, millions of dollars in sales. And she’d been in business for a long time. And here’s, here’s this is a great story.

So there’s a guy he’s online in her in her night, worked relentlessly on a new website, she had his graphic designer, so female in a guy’s industry. I mean, what’s more manly than I am gun bullet links. And she put a really nice female touch on her website, meticulous, every detail, every color, everything, you know, thing that guys don’t even think of puts out this incredible website. There’s a guy who’s what Who’s he says he’s watching a romantic comedy with a significant other on a couch. He’s got his phone, and he’s doing Google searches while he’s pretending doing a good boyfriend husband thing, doing a Google search.

Her website pops up, places an order she lands a $400,000 dig, because of her new website. Again, she spent five grand on a new website lands this $400,000 gig. And it was on a Friday night at whatever time. So one of the chapters in my book are what I always preach. How can you help that customer make a buying decision at Friday night and a midnight? without having to wait for you to open up your doors on Monday morning? Yeah, he was living proof lenses six figure gig just because she was there she was available. He found her watching a movie with his girlfriend, being a good husband and boy a good boyfriend and doing business on the side. You know? Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  34:20

Yeah, that’s a great example. Andrew must that technical, technical difficulties you dropped off we’ll get him back if he if he gets them gets them sorted out. But that you know, and that is really the thing, you know, that that you look at, and this is not just for the mom and pop manufacturers.

I mean, we’re talking manufacturers that are 100 $200 million in revenue and really benefit from this because they’re they’re still and a lot of them are product manufacturers that are still relying upon their salespeople to be out there confirming orders to take orders from customers process orders me My my significant other used to, she used to work for large medical companies and selling very expensive medical devices. And I would be amazed that customers would still transmit order information to her via, you know, PDF, po or something like that.

And I mean, we’re not talking a couple years ago, and and they take in someone that’s a very expensive employee, and having them, you know, basically move paper, which is really ridiculous. And then when you look at the savings, and like, you’re just saying, the ability to make it easy for your customer to do business with you with e commerce is is such an overlooked thing that you’re if your competitors aren’t doing it, and you do it, then people are going to begin to expect it.

Then you know, so your customer begins to expect it your customer, like you said, with the machine gun links, that they Hey, I’m on vacation, but I need some more dirt on my phone, I’m at the top of a ski slope, I’m on the beach doesn’t really matter. They’re coming in the people are good, you know. And those are the kind of things that really distinguish you from other competitors. And pretty soon they’re not really even competitors anymore, because you’re doing things that they never thought of.


Curt Anderson  36:26

And just, yeah, look at the things that you guys are doing differently. You know, I mean, just from a content standpoint, I mean, you guys, you know, what you’ve done with your Thursday meetings and in what we’re doing right here right now our Friday meetings with the manufacturing strategies, you know, our manufacturing e commerce strategies, masterclass. And Izmir, I’m glad you brought up the medical supplies, because in December, we have Brian back. And Brian back is kind of, you know, the authority of major b2b transactions. Yeah.

He’ll be talking about some really cool things. I had the pleasure I was I spoke at a gig that he spoke at back in, I think it was like June, May or June. And he described how I came from his Cardinal Health, or we’re not like a major medical supply company, there’s selling million dollar pieces of equipment, via e commerce. Yeah, there’s, there’s no, you know, it’s like, you know, a pair of socks.

Oh, by the way, I’m gonna buy a million dollar piece of, you know, whatever, medical equipment, and it’s going into a shopping cart. So I mean, these b2b buyers, you know, like the client with a $400,000 sale, I mean, this was a b2b buyer with a another, you know, whether it’s Department of Defense in her case, or General Dynamics, or, you know, one of the companies in the supply chain of defense, they’re doing the exact same thing that we’re doing is consumers in his buyers, and he has to make it as convenient as possible.


Damon Pistulka  37:53

Well, exactly. And when you look at that, those are examples. Some of those are examples of a new customer, but when you even look at it as your existing customers, and you know, I spoke about this a little bit, when we were talking with the SBA folks about the the the business v commerce, Amazon has laid customer expectations at a different level, and then significantly higher, and everyone else just had to enters back here, we’ll get him back on again. So rather, and Amazon, you know, set these expectations very, very high for customers, well, that, that customer expectation is the same for all e commerce customers, it’s b2b or whatever.

Now, when you compare that to the normal customer service level in a b2b business, it’s not nearly like it is on Amazon as far as timely response and things like that. And I think that is really an opportunity. Because when you look at what a returning customer, that kind of things that you can do for a returning customers as a manufacturer, I don’t care if your CNC machining company or your fabrication company or you’re selling a screw to, you know, to a company that’s using it and someplace else, it really doesn’t matter.

You make that experience easy. And you again, differentiate yourself, you get the little things that you have to do with e commerce like as soon as something shipped automatically the UPS or the the the freight tracking number goes right to them. Here’s how you track it blah, blah, blah. Let us know if you got any questions.

You know, and the fact that in e commerce if you if if you put a phone number on the on the website or on your order, and you call it up and nobody answers, I mean you’re going to get blasted on your reviews and those reviews are going to see this all makes you better as as a business. And when you look at the the normal when you look in those types of businesses that I talked about, and then when the level of customer service that that e commerce really requires Yes, it’s going to be painful. But when you get there, it’s not expensive usually to do that stuff, but it really differentiates yourself once again, from your competitors,


Andrew Cross  40:09

makes you better.


Damon Pistulka  40:10

Yeah. makes a huge thing. Because if you can sit there because, you know, as long as Andrew and I, when when, when a larger business makes a decision to supply you for you to supply them components or assemblies or whatever the heck, they’re, they’re spending millions of dollars. And that the $400,000 order was that you mentioned was probably one of a lot of millions of dollars, right.

And when you’re in b2b like we are and when we were when we were running those businesses, those large orders, they just transaction, the zeros just kind of fall away after a while you don’t realize, well, that was a million dollar order. And you’re like, yeah, we had to do on yesterday. So it’s really not that big a deal. And you kind of forget about the the significance in that customer service, that a retail place or somebody else or an e commerce place has to has to put on those type of customers, or they do on their type of customers, and how to benefit you. I just I just think it’s huge opportunity.


Curt Anderson  41:17

Well, that’s why I’m so appreciative. And just I can’t thank you guys enough for like our Friday, you know, e commerce masterclass series. So, Andrew, when you hopped off, we shared a couple of stories about, you know, one client, you know, I think you might have still been on, you know, landing that $80,000 order, you know, and then shared another client different situations, different circumstance, she lands a $400,000 order, you know, when you’re doing two or $3 million in sales a year you 2030 employees, like, these are these are game changers.

So yeah, this is this is a total alteration of your business a whole, you know, changes your year in a great thing is about e commerce. Again, maybe simplifying it, you know, a thrown up a $5,000 website. However, it’s not a massive cap x, like you didn’t buy a quarter million dollar lead machine unit layout, you know, half a million dollars for a new circuit board machine, you know, it’s 5000, it’s a small capital expenditure, you know, daymond, I’ve been talking about, you know, boy, how can we help that manufacturer get that cost on?

Because I don’t know if it’s fear, but it’s just the unknown, of I don’t know, digital marketing, I don’t know, e commerce, how am I going to do this whole thing. But the two companies that I shared, once, once one company in it, then I’ll send us the second company had it, what I did is I started rounding up a bunch of different manufacturers. And I started this thing called the million dollar e commerce club.

And what I did is I wanted a challenge I wanted like, so I brought a bunch of manufacturers in a room together, like 20 of them. And I brought those two up front. And we almost pitted the two against each other of like, who was going to hit a million dollars first. And of course, the woman to hockey mom, she’s like, I’m gonna hit it first. So now you got 15 other manufacturers in a room champion. And wait a minute, is the commerce thing. This is 2014. And they’re like, if they can do half a million dollars, and they can they’re racing to get to more about me. And I’m like, man, if I can help 1015 companies, you know, and each of these companies, 20 3050 employees, three to $5 million.

If you had a million dollars to their top line, what’s it doing to their bottom line because he didn’t increase if they have capacity. Now, I know there’s exceptions where they are yesterday. But this can go right into your bottom line, because you have a variable expense by bringing more bodies in if you if you have scalable opportunities. So with our Friday gig, that’s what I absolutely love. Because we could almost turn this into an our new, I was doing it in my area. This could almost be like a million dollar e commerce club for manufacturers. How could us together as a team help as many manufacturers as possible, like Dan bigger, is doing an amazing job with us. He’s got a weekly Twitter group for manufacturers, and big shout out to Dan and his efforts.


Andrew Cross  44:11

Yeah, yeah, I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention that, you know, when when that story that customer pulls in that $400,000 order, then what does that do to their exit value?


Curt Anderson  44:22

Yeah. I mean, everything around it. Yeah, every everything is these are game changers. And again, not a lot easier said than done. It’s the treadmill, you know, you get that new and then because I could counterpoint that where I’ve had a lot of clients either, you know, prior or you know, they get a brand new website. They’re like, okay, where are the orders, and it’s crickets. And you know, we got to get on the treadmill to see some results here. You got to hit the gym, to see the results. And that’s where they need help because it you know, they’ve been burned. They’ve contacted somebody, an SEO guru and it’s five grand a month and You know,


Andrew Cross  45:02

this, you know, small medium businesses, the good and the bad, the good is they are able to do this because through trial and error, right, you know, yes, this is how they learn everything and figure things, trial and error, and lessons and stuff like that too. But what you’re talking about is exactly what that is. Right? Yeah, you’re capable of doing it. Next thing, you know, they’re the next Amazon.


Curt Anderson  45:27

Yeah, or their, their next exit your way client, and they are thrilled because they just put a multiple, you know, they put a new multiple, you know, and I’m not trying to show, you know, a shameless plug to you guys. But you know, I’ve been in those shoes, where, you know, when you’re not, I’m, you know, I was just telling Damon earlier, you know, I have a client that’s looking to exit out there, they’re not a good fit for your way, but they’re looking to exit or you’re out in a situation.

And, you know, how can you get a pole, you know, especially now man with COVID, you know, if you didn’t get caught in a product, that you’re escalating, and you’re, you know, how many manufacturers are down? 3040 50% right now no fault of their own? Yeah, sir. You know, and, and their late 50s flirting was 60. Now, what do they do? You know, and this is an again, I’m such a evangelist for e commerce, but bringing on this type of a strategy can help escalate and get, you know, land that $80,000 order that $400,000 order, gets you back on track pretty darn quick.


Andrew Cross  46:32

You know, I think that’s what we’ve seen, you know, smart companies, small companies can do that, you know, you can go Yeah, well, I should have done this before. But you know, I’m going hard sales now. And if e commerce is a way to help me, you know, grow my sales. I’ve got to go that way. And if it’s not the product I’m currently selling or something well, so where’s that other market?

They’ll go find it. And they’re still they’re spending what little resources because they are pulling back they aren’t making the money they were before you know, Cotterill, you know that too, which is fascinating is that they go how it should have done this online, but they were too busy just filling orders before. You know, exactly. That’s you got your resources, where do they go? When your jam and you’re filling reorders? You know, you’re probably spending 20% of your resources and now, now it’s now it’s time the smart ones are 80% of the resources on the sales, they’ll come out of this thing in spoken hot. Yeah, it’s opportunity in the fire.


Damon Pistulka  47:27

That’s That’s for sure. Cuz, you know, and you can attest to this curries. It’s there’s very few companies that you go into, and they say our sales are great. We don’t have to worry about that.


Curt Anderson  47:38

You know what shot I have heard a few of those. I try to keep my poker face catches me off guard. Yeah. But just in the same regard. You talk to any manufacturer nationwide, you know what probably if they are at capacity, their number one problem. workforce. We were just talking about a woman that that’s a specialist and retention work first retention, I don’t care. Where are you going to country, every manufacturer is suffering, lack of workforce. So here’s the important thing.

So we’re not and I learned this, this caught me off guard years ago, because I’m coming in e commerce sales, e commerce sales, and I got a couple of those push backs were like, we’re mister Mr. e commerce, you won’t get it. We’re at full capacity. Got it up. And the more we talked about it all sudden, the light bulb went off. And I’m like, Hey, wait a minute. I’m hearing you’re having a retention problem. What’s the What are you looking for engineers? Just out of college? Where are they going? They’re going on LinkedIn. They’re on Instagram.

They’re on Twitter. They’re on social, they’re checking out you they’re checking out your website. They’re looking at your YouTube channel. And if you don’t have any of that, they’re going to your competitor that does also Netflix the conversation. Yeah, we’re now Mr. e commerce was welcome back into the shop because now we needed to talk more of a digital strategy. But now we’re looking at it from a recruiting employee standpoint, which can slide very easily into recruiting that customers when capacity does go down. So it’s it’s really challenging to argue so many manufacturers want almost took pride in being that best kept secret. Yeah. You just you just can’t do that anymore. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  49:16

you make a great point. And we talked about Jeffrey Graham and he when you listen to him talk for about 10 minutes you’re gonna realize that that that is not just ecommerce is the digital real estate that your company has now and your digital real estate is a combination of the places you set up your YouTube of your LinkedIn of your website of your, of your how good your sales people are in your CEO and everyone else at branding and support and spreading the word of your company it this this anymore, and especially as the workforce transitions from a bunch of guys that look like us guys and gals that look like us, age wise, to the millennials. That’s where they live.

That’s how they make a decision where they go to work. That’s, that’s what attracts people into an industry. So if you’re doing a good job of that you will attract, attract good employees and customers. And it is really relevant.


Andrew Cross  50:15

Well, I hate to spend time doing it too. And I, when I, we don’t do a lot of work with companies in the early startup phase, and, you know, we’re dealing with, they’ve been around for a while, you know, established, but it’s always good to go back and remember how it was, right? There’s because I have the money to hire the people. So you know, or a good really good startup founder is selling not just product to people, which is, I think, is what companies get complacent, do that script selling and pitching their idea, their vision every single day to anybody who will listen.

And that’s all their stakeholders. So that’s it, you know, that’s the guy, you know, the people on the frontlines that are hiring the students, the interns, you know, they’re they’re influencers, right? So but you know, I don’t know why, but you know, a couple get that get to a certain level and lose that kind of, you know, fans. I don’t have to, you know, I don’t have to sell, you know, what I’m doing, but you’re not selling, you’re selling your culture, your generator, we’re gonna make it if you can’t draw those those folks in, you’re absolutely right.


Damon Pistulka  51:24

You make a good point, because I could have a backup 15 years, 20 years, whenever I talk about culture, right? Or did we and I was just oblivious to it. Maybe there were


Andrew Cross  51:40

side happening was, um, you know, it’s some of the bigger companies were bringing in consultants to do it. When you look at Ford, I was at Ford, they were doing it, but it was the Japanese kind of leading the attention. Yeah, you know, you’re working culturally. And we were kind of getting our asses kicked by them, which was what happened, right?



Yeah, well, that everyone


Andrew Cross  52:01

needs to pay attention.


Curt Anderson  52:03

I think that fear and competition, you know, when things are going good, and again, manufacturing your capacity, out of sight, out of mind, which you guys will love this. So client, working with recently decent sized manufacturer, and they went through the whole persona exercise. And they have, you know, a defined persona, and that persona, they have not active with social media. And what I have found over the years, a lot of manufacturers will conveniently say, our persona is not in the social media, because they don’t want to be in the social media.

So therefore, they feel relieved, and justified of like, Oh, thank God, our persona doesn’t want to be in social media, when they just created to define their own. And when you when we have the conversation that we just had, and that’s the thing, and again, I kid around about myself, and I know we probably need to wrap up soon, with when I had my e commerce business, you know, 100 years ago, our team, one thing that I credit our team, we were really good at challenging ourselves. We had a saint, we had a couple of things.

We’re like, what are we doing today, that we’re going to make fun of six months from now? And how could we do that? How can we fix it now? And it’s not always easy to identify. What are we doing today with me? You know, we’re still on. We’re still on dos are still on, you know, when you know, when whatever, you know, what are you doing today, that you can make fun of that you’re going to make fun of that we could correct right now. And when social media was setting the scene, I had a bunch of young people I was, I was probably 40 at the time. So I was younger.

And I have a bunch of 20 somethings. So when these social media platforms came out, even when I was shooting on Twitter, we were on Twitter, immediately, when YouTube came out, we were shooting YouTube. And I believe in 2006, seven, we were literally shooting How To Videos immediately and getting hundreds of thousands of views right off the bat. And I’m really cheap. And the great thing about social media, it’s free, it doesn’t cost a penny. And I know and my attitude was I didn’t want to get beat by the competition, because I ignored something.

I was dedicating time and resources, but man those platforms and cost me anything. So I think it’s been it’s been a little discouraging for years when manufacturers or companies have blatantly ignored these opportunities that are free. The challenges. They just didn’t see that. You know, when I got an e commerce I’ll never forget when you know that order, when your email pops up, hey, there’s an order. Hey, there’s another order. Okay, there’s another order. Hey, we took in 30 orders over the weekend. I was at home doing whatever watching football. Yeah, we’re, you know, when you start getting a taste of that, then your attitude changes. Until then, it’s convenient to say you know what, ecommerce will never affect our client, our company, because I don’t understand it. And I don’t want to learn that. You know, yeah.


Andrew Cross  54:50

You know, this is great. I’m really glad you brought that up because that’s the entrepreneur right there. We talked about exit your way clients, the kind of people that that really the great small, medium companies. Looking forward, that’s the difference, right? They’re constantly thinking about it never that’s it. That’s why I got people who want to become entrepreneurs. I want to buy a business coming out of a corporate thing. Yeah, right. They go home on Friday they come home at five o’clock they don’t think about work until the next day. They don’t have to. Yes, you know, so be careful what you wish for


Curt Anderson  55:22

it’s it’s 24 seven man.


Andrew Cross  55:26

But you know, I think for you know, we’re lucky we got to work with some of our clients are just you know, really really fantastic people who really build something great and they run on their fuel their fuel you know, they’ll run 24 hours it can do it just because of the pure love of it.


Damon Pistulka  55:44

Yeah, yeah. Well you know, it’s been great Kurt and I can already tell that we have to it’d be fun if we brought back Jeff Graham to


Curt Anderson  55:54

it because you know, the his perspective on it is really really interesting as well. But you’re Yeah, I always love talking with you. I’m so appreciative for you to stop by today and talk about manufacturing and e commerce and and the opportunities we see and and it’s wonderful that we get to work together more in our Friday master. Manufacturing ecommerce strategies masterclass series that you’re putting together with us is awesome you know, we’ve had some had some great speakers so far this week. Could we have coming up on that?

We have just Kersey Oh from protocol ad and I’ve worked with those guys for years and they’ve been in it since 2002. So they’re early adapters to inbound marketing strategies exclusively for manufacturers. You’re speaking next week we’ve got Jeff Graham we’ve got Allison coming up Yeah, the one and only IRA Bowman or LinkedIn Rockstar, we’ve got Bonnie from go lids. We’ve got Brian back so we’re really guys I this was a dream of mine back in November of doing these workshops. I am so deeply indebted in just filled with gratitude for you guys. So thank you for helping me make this come true. And I’m just so fired up that we’re offering this to people and can’t wait to see where this takes us. So yeah, it’s


Damon Pistulka  57:16

a lot of fun and


Andrew Cross  57:17

X ray what it’s all about is is bringing in you know, these great resources talent these kind of things to bear on our clients the small businesses then because Yep, these are game changers. This is awesome.


Damon Pistulka  57:31

Yeah. Well, thanks for being once again Kurt. Andrew, thank you guys are is wonderful. And I’m gonna sign us off here for now and we will be back again. Alright guys.

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