07 Aug E-Commerce for Manufacturers
This Business Round Table by Exit Your Way® topic was “E-Commerce for Manufacturers”. The video features Curt Anderson sharing information on utilizing e-commerce for manufacturers to increase revenues by expanding market reach and customer base.
Curt opens up with his background and how how he started right out of college in a wholesale business. He says he started out in e-commerce out of “shear desperation” when the internet started. He started an e-commerce business and eventually sold it in 2010.
When he started looking for another business after selling his business he soon realized that he was not good at finding a business to buy, but was really good at consulting. This led to his career in consulting and helping business owners grow their business with e-commerce. Curt then begins to explain his specialty in helping manufacturers sell more of products using e-commerce for manufacturers.
Curt talks about how e-commerce opened up a lot of markets for him and his wholesale company and how he realized e-commerce for manufacturers can help companies expand into other markets and grow their revenues in new ways.
We then talked about the configurable produce line Damon created at a past company and the fact that e-commerce for manufacturers would have been a great benefit if it wold have been applied. This laid the foundation for Curt to talk about the ground strap example where he helped a company owner sell ground traps online. His story of how this opened the door to many opportunities that then drove the company to develop a configurable solution that allows people to configure and order online. Curt wanted to make it so simple that people can easy configure and buy when they want. He succeeded and the company has sold to some of the biggest and best names in the world.
E-commerce for manufacturers can open up a wide range of client and marketing possibilities for a business if done correctly. It is definitely worth a look if you want to grow your business.
Thanks to Curt for sharing his time and knowledge.
Curt Anderson is the e-commerce evangelist for Manufacturers for B2Btail. He is an e-commerce consultant that helps digital nomads utilize e-commerce to increase sales. Prior to this he was the President for Standard Portable inc. He has been doing consulting with U.S. Manufacturers since 2012 on Executing eCommerce Strategies and has been an entrepreneur for 30 years including 25 years in eCommerce.
Founded eCommerce company in 1995 that was ranked 3X on the Internet Retailer Magazine Top 1000 eCommerce companies, in which he eventually sold it to a partner.
Passionately Consulting and Works on: “How to Scale Your Proprietary Process with eCommerce” for manufacturers.
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E-Commerce for Manufacturers
The Exit Your Way Business Round Table Live Stream
e commerce, business, customer, sell, company, manufacturers, buy, ecommerce, product, people, kurt, amazon, talk, diversify, years, manufacturing, widget, strap, competitive advantage, b2b
Damon Pistulka, Curt Anderson
Damon Pistulka 00:01
All right, I’d like to welcome everyone today to the exit your way roundtable with me today. I’ve got Kurt Anderson. So, Kurt, welcome and glad to have you.
Curt Anderson 00:14
Hey, thank you Damon. Man, this is a huge honor and just this has been a great unite you know, connected on LinkedIn. So anybody that’s been little, you know, G is LinkedIn, you know, this is a perfect example of building relationships on LinkedIn and the power of what that network can do. You know, it’s just it’s just wonderful. So, you know, from our first conversation up till tonight You know, it’s been it’s been a great friendship and building professional network and so it’s been great so thank you for having me tonight.
Damon Pistulka 00:41
Oh, you’re very welcome Kurt and you know, Kurt, it’s it’s from the beginning man when I heard what you did and what you do it’s just it to me it’s just it’s very cool because exciting subject for me and you know, like accountants get excited about, you know, doing books. I get excited talking about e-commerce for manufacturers, so that’s good. So can you tell me a little bit about your background? Kurt? Just kind of deal what kind of got you where you what you’re doing today? Yeah.
All right, sorry. You know, so, you know, you and I are from similar generation. So yeah, you know, graduated from college, I think 30 years ago next week, I you know, time just flies. And so, long story short, I, right out of college, I took over it was a defunct wholesale business, and was just kind of struggling with that and just, you know, 20 something just trying to figure out life and then, you know, college and teach you how to, you know, entrepreneurship and 1995 man this whole internet internet thing I don’t remember like AOL was sending out you know, little just, you know, from Super Bowl ads and 14.4 modems and all that fun stuff. Oh, yeah. So, I got into e commerce. Basically for one reason, one reason only comes out of sheer desperation. Just tried every idea possible and just like in, you know, 1995 and e commerce thing, you know, I’m in my 20s and young dumb and, you know, let’s take a shot. So, you know, what’s fascinating is, you know, you and I, you know, lived through the.com era, you know, 911 and all that. And so I think the people that that got an e commerce and got to the other side, you know, when I was I had a small business, so I wasn’t like I was chasing venture capital or anything like that. But when you got to decide and then when Google hit the scene, that just really changed everything. Social media hit like 2000, mid 2000, you know, Facebook, oh three, LinkedIn, YouTube, all that took a company. So next level, I ended up selling about 2010 and I wish that I had a daemon in my life and exit your way. And I definitely want to talk about that in our conversation. And, and then I found after I I was young, I was like, 40 something 45 Whatever when I sold the business and where and what I’m, I’d like to hear from you is I really didn’t know what to do. I’d like you know, you put your heart and soul seven days a week though typical entrepreneur cliches, and all sudden it comes to a screeching halt now what you know. And from my my passion, my heart just kind of fell in, I was looking for another business to buy. And I found out I was I was horrible finding a business buyer because I never found one. But I really enjoyed consulting with people, and in particular e commerce and because again, 10 years ago was you know, it’s a 25 year old industry. It’s so relatively new. Yeah, and I’m not gonna resonate with a lot of the digital immigrants, a lot of like, you and I are Gen X, like a baby boomers, and I’m in the rust belt, and I’m in upstate New York, Lakewood, New York. And so I just I gravitated towards manufacturers, I love the widget maker. And the idea is like, how can we take your widget? You’ve been doing this great for 30 years. Let’s get it on e commerce you know, so If I can, so if I could spin this back, so kind of tied in and I might spend a question back to you, you know, they’re particularly like the 2000’s venture capital angel investors are such a hot buzz, so many people flock to that gravitated towards that industry. You’re on the other side, which I find just so fascinating and so intriguing. And, and so it’s no train and it’s helpful. It’s such a necessity what you do, how did you pick the exit game instead of the startup side?
Damon Pistulka 04:32
Well, I think it was because see, it was parked circumstance. Yeah, in part because well, because as, as I was working in my career, I started running companies for a people that had owned a lot of businesses First of all, and then into the investment buyers like private equity or holding companies, you know, that kind of stuff. And then we’re always working and established companies and I only saw the buy and sell side of things. That was companies and I never even I never even really knew. Well, what a startup was. Right, you know, right. That was another thing right now in the established companies. And that’s, and that’s really where I started to hone hone the skills of how do you how do you prepare a company to start up what or to to sell? And what are people going to look at, and especially in the investment buyers, you know, the private equity groups or other strategic buyers that know right doing, you know, and that’s, and that’s where I really got got into that part of it. And, honestly, the part of growing the business is where I really enjoy because to me, it’s a great game. It’s like It’s like playing I love baseball, I think it’s just like playing baseball is a full strategy of what do I do in the second inning, that means I’m gonna win in the ninth inning. Right, you know, and that’s really what what it is and in business a lot of times, it’s what you do off the field and the preparation that you do. Or even in those first few innings in a baseball game that make a blowout in the ninth inning, right? That’s really what I try to focus on is how do you know I always love that part of it is how do you how do you create this team or this business that dominates an industry? Right and I’m half crazy. So that helps.
And we’re both big baseball fans I use baseball analogies for for business, literally, probably almost daily. So I think you and I fully connected on that. But it’s good. It’s great because you come in, you know, you’ve gotten past the adolescent stage, you’ve gotten past like the awkward teenagers. You almost come and juicy. You come in at the mature side, and you almost come in, where they’ve almost gone a little too long too far. And try to like, stop and back up.
Damon Pistulka 06:50
Sometimes we do sometimes. Yeah, yeah, it is. And that’s, that’s one of the things I think you really have to do. Like with what you’re what you’re what you’re doing to you know, like if you’re going to bring anything commerce strategy to accompany you can’t do it in a company where the owners is so comfortable in where they’re at that they like, right? Well, I really don’t want to make a change, you know, because everything’s good in my life and I don’t want to upset everything. And it’s honestly, you can run a company like that a long time and dislike for you. It’s the same process they have to want to change. And absolutely, right. Yeah,
that resistance is always is always tough. I’m sure you, you, you encounter the bullet when a company reaches out to you, though, I’m assuming that the, you know, top management leaders that they’re they’re looking for a change otherwise do not contact you.
Damon Pistulka 07:39
Yeah, yeah, they are. Well, usually, a lot of times we get contacted by an owner that wants to sell their business right. So okay, you contacted me you want to sell a business and the first thing we start talking about is well, how much money do you need if you’re if you’re going to retire because I enlarge biggest thing first quite when it first came out was well, how much do you How much do you need? A lot of times they don’t know, right? Because like most of us, we don’t want to, we don’t want to think about that partner life, right? We do. We’re all putting it in the back of our head until it slaps us in the face. But they’re thinking about it. So that’s really where we have to start with them. Because they have to be thinking about that. And they have to have a number in their head because their business, if they’re thinking about selling their business, the biggest reason that you won’t sell a business is it’s not worth enough money. Right.
Right. Right. And typically, the business owner thinks that the value is here, I’m looking to see my head, you know, is that one level, in reality is it’s typically at a different at a lower level. Yeah. And, you know, it’s like, you know, your child’s the most athletic and the prettiest. And it’s like your business and, you know, you think of businesses as worth a lot more than what it really would it really is. But you know, I almost you know, somebody I don’t know and I hope this doesn’t sound Male driven but so many men identify themselves with their career, where I really credit women because I think they’re much better at, you know, being mom or different aspects of their career, you know, where a lot of times guys like just really identify themselves with their career, where what I found is a lot of entrepreneurs when they sell that business, it’s, it’s, I don’t feel agree with this. It’s almost like a somewhat like a grieving process where like that identity is gone. And they’re kind of in they’ve identified themselves so deeply with that business, that they have a difficult time transitioning to the new self, you know, do you ever experienced that? Or do you know what I’m saying? Oh, yeah,
Damon Pistulka 09:41
yeah, we see it all the time. And those are the people that are gonna die at their desk. That’s what we call we got they’re gonna die at their desk. I mean, typically, if you if I if we talk to a business owner that’s over 70 they’re probably going to die at their desk.
Curt Anderson 09:55
Really? Yeah, the business is almost to its almost almost unsellable servitude.
Damon Pistulka 10:02
Not necessarily that it’s just they don’t want to leave.
Curt Anderson 10:05
They don’t Okay, they’re faded
Damon Pistulka 10:08
into the other thing is, is that sometimes they look at it as not a good thing and then you have other people that are ready for it and this is the man this is the biggest emotional thing you will ever ever and you’ve sold the business you know what it’s like now you’ve gone through the whole process, you know what it’s like, and having to redefine yourself and refi purpose and move on and and you did it when you were young and you knew you could refine a find new purpose and these things now when I when you’re in that 6570 year old range. You just don’t look that doesn’t look the same. Yeah,
yeah. So they so now it’s almost it’s it’s they’re looking for retirement hobbies as opposed to new career. Probably not every case but I’m sure that you know,
Damon Pistulka 10:58
people actually that helped help with that. Okay. It’s definitely something where we’re counseling is not a
maximum. It’s a big part of the whole it. Yeah, it’s a it’s an emotional process. And that’s and you know, I talked about this before, I wish I would read this advice, I think was the founder of GoDaddy. Bob Parsons was the CEO for many years. He was behind all the great super, you know, the controversy of Super Bowl ads and what have you. And when he saw he finally did an IPO, so great internet success story domain names. And when he finally sort of did his IPO, he had the thing was like a magazine. They said something like, you know, you know how it was your baby. How did you how did you handle that? And he said, You know what, it was never my baby. It was an investment. It was always my investment and I treated as such, and you know, who else gentleman’s name escapes me, Carrie. He was the founder of big ass fans. Mm hmm. He just sold a couple years ago. And I had almost a very almost identical quote, but his quote was same type of thing you don’t man it was your baby raising $500 million. How did you do it? He goes, You know what? It was like my pack of gum until I sort of to you and then it was your pack of gum. He goes I wanted to take care of employees and everything else but other than that, it was you know, so I I wish I would have known I wish I would have read those pieces of advice you know, back when I think if you can remove the emotion and treat it more of an investment I think you’re much better in my opinion, I think you’re much better going into that process.
Damon Pistulka 12:34
Yeah, yeah, that’s what that’s for sure. That’s for sure. Well, that’s enough about this stuff. Kurt. What what we’re talking about the I mean, cuz I talk about stuff for hours. Yeah. The The thing that I think is is cool for us to talk about today is is what you’ve done and what you helped companies do because you’re blending in some senses all with new and Exactly. As you’re adding the e commerce element to what might be a pretty from the outside a mundane type of business, so right, yeah, so it kind of explain that a little bit of how e-commerce for manufacturers can be interesting.
Yeah. So it’s, you know, what I found is, you know, and again, I’m sorry to come back to you know, like, like you guys are laser focused on the exit. And, you know, every business and I don’t know, if you found this, a lot of companies get kind of all over the board. You know, they’re eager for sale, desperate for sale, maybe if you’re just starting up anything that comes to the door, you’re going to take, yeah, maybe you’re mature, and you’re on the downside, and maybe you should have sold a few years ago and now you’re almost like kind of scrambling, trying to resurrect, you know, trying to find a newfound energy. And you know, where ecommerce can come in, is, you know, with manufacturers, I sell a widget, okay? I sell a pen if you see my pen and you know, I’ve been Sona for years, maybe grandpa started the business or whatever, you know, second generation or, or, or they’re the founder, and they’ve been selling this widget forever. And they have a handful of customers, especially if they’re a custom manufacturer, you know, maybe for your listeners, if you’re not in manufacturing, you have the OEM original equipment manufacturer, who they manufacturer your lawn more your, whatever washing machine, your blender, you know, then you have all the custom manufacturers, which is a vast majority of manufacturers are the are the folks and make a widget or product that go in that finished product. Those folks, they once they find that one widget to make, and they just crush it for years and they’re they’re in bed with one customer and they can you know, ride the wave and have a good time. But then all sudden if something happens to that industry of no fault of their own, either like you know, unfortunately right now oil is difficult or there’s something when obsolete, you know how You know, we can name you know, Sears toys or you know, tons of companies and all sudden find themselves obsolete. If you’re selling fixtures or products to Sears or products to Toys R Us, you know, and that’s your top customer, maybe 50% of your sales. Now that’s a challenge, you know, in many, many Unfortunately, many companies are facing that today with the struggle that we’re facing now, what e commerce does, it opens up I’ve sold through the front door I had five customers, I had 10 customers, they represented a big chunk of my sales. Ecommerce comes in now it’s an I haven’t I have a new avenue out the back door. Yeah, and now I’m selling the same widget. I’m selling the same product. I’m using the same machinery, same equipment, same expertise, same talent, same staff, I have other everything is in my corner. You know, entrepreneurship is risk. It’s walking into Vegas, you know, and how can I as an entrepreneur, how can I put the odds in my favor? Well, when you’ve already mastered this widget, and you’ve been selling it on, you know, there used to sell a pallet loads or somebody goes to that data economy, the the resistance or the changes, somebody might spy in smaller quantities, or now someone’s going to buy in singles, or somebody’s going to buy on less than truck loads, and now you need to ship on ups. So it takes a mental shift, which a lot of companies are very resistant to I don’t have the infrastructure, we can’t do this. But if you can embrace it, ecommerce just opens up so many doors of companies industries that you just never realized that existed, you know, so that’s, that’s why I’m so passionate about e commerce is just seeing amazing opportunities over consistently for 25 years. I’ve consistently seen it, you know, so
Damon Pistulka 16:48
yeah, yeah, it is cool. I was actually talking to a client that is in e-commerce but I mean, there’s a retail sale are not a b2b seller of commerce products. They’re not manufacturer And one of the things one of their challenges is, is they as they expand their product lines into their customers trying to buy directly from manufacturers that are not ready to embrace the, I don’t want I have to ship a case of this product or, or a single of this product rather than shipping out five pallets to my distribution center. Right and, and you’re right if you understand how to tackle that operational challenge, you open a tremendous amount of opportunity.
I just talked with a gentleman about a week ago and you know, same thing and most people don’t want that small you know, I want to ship hundreds or thousands or pallet loads truck, you know, data. I don’t want to sell the ones he chooses. I don’t want it you know, and this particular gentleman I was talking to, he was like, man, we’re doing phenomenal on Amazon. And I’m like, you know, I perked up and I’m a bigamist proponent I’m like, Man, you’re on Amazon. What do you know? Well, we sell our fives and 10s and what have you, and I’m like, Well, are you, you know, are you fulfilling it yourself? Or through FBA, you know, fulfillment? I, oh, you know, we don’t touch a thing and all through Amazon, you know, but they’re, they’re a nuisance. And you know, it’s kind of, you know, I’m like, wait a minute. I’m like, but Amazon is taking care of everything. I’m like, What if we just put on your website, just like a landing page of a funnel of like, go to my Amazon store? I’m like, Dude, what if you’re just driving all those one z two Z’s. You know what, one thing that I love to preach on I’ve been doing, obviously, in COVID I’m like, I’m, I know, I’m on the webinar kick this week. You know, so I’m doing constant webinars. And what I’m constantly preaching is how I my website, how can I help the buyer be able to help them How can I just hand it to them, allow them make a buying decision at Friday night at midnight? Yeah, without having to wait until Monday morning, seven o’clock for me to open To do so, it’s just constantly, you know, focusing on the customers problem, as opposed to Nestle your solution, you know, so like, I don’t want to ship a lesson, pal, okay, well, let’s let’s identify, Are you positive, there’s not there’s not a compromise, or a great opportunity. This gentleman, whatever his profit ratio is, like, Well, when I when I saw, you know, to my big clients, it’s $1. And well, what do you sell for an Amazon eight bucks? I’m like, dude, you know, like, you know, let Amazon ship it all day. Now, you know, I don’t have the numbers and I know some of you out there could dispute that or challenge it, but it’s, it’s, um, it diversifies your portfolio. So when a guy like you comes in and says, Okay, Mr. entrepreneur, you’re ready to sell, you know, you have five customers, and 30% or two of them and 1010 you know, whatever the breakdown is, you know, your your, your your, your ratio, you know, your your x is a little larger. Then if we had a nice diverse portfolio with unique opportunities, so
Damon Pistulka 20:04
when you bring up a really good point that is one of the first things people look at when they go to buy a company is your customer concentration, they want to go Okay, give me your list of customers, I want your top 50% of your customers, and they don’t care if they see a name or whatever. They just want to know how much is it the percentage each one of you got one that 70% then they you aren’t we’re not touching them with a 10 foot pole unless that one customer is one that they need.
Right. Right. Exactly. You hinted on that if it’s a strategic buy, yeah, it comes into somebody else’s portfolio. Great, great opportunity. But unless you have that match, there’s not many people off the street that want to buy it. They
Damon Pistulka 20:46
don’t want to touch it, then investment buyer won’t touch it. Yeah. But the interesting thing that you’re talking about there is that is that the profitability selling on that Less than truckload less than Paolo, whatever it is, quantity, if you can drive if there’s enough demand for your product, and it doesn’t take a ton, that right, you you typically will make 234 sometimes 10 X on that that same product, right? And that’s the thing that’s so interesting, even if you even if you, you don’t have to sell a heck of a lot to make, make good money doing that.
Correct. And again, it’s I know, it’s a mind shift. And I’m sure there’s plenty of examples otherwise, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So for a shameless plug, so I just over COVID I just wrote a book, and it’s called, it’s called stop being the best kept secret. And my tagline is manufacturing ecommerce strategies and manufacturing is a verb, you know, like recruiting, but it’s, it’s so I have like, and so I have a huge waiting lists in consistence, my mother and my wife so if anybody wants to get on the waiting list, you can get in line with my wife and my My mother so I have like, I had like a 1010 or 11 points of you know, like, why I love the commerce, what are the vast benefits for your business? And I loved it. You know, when I had my business in the 90s and it was a wholesale business. Yeah, I suffered and struggled with receivables. Oh, like, I have no hurt is because of receivables. So also the, you know, the 90s hit, and I come in on a Monday and I might cheese I have, you know, 10 orders and they pay by credit card. And I’m going to put it on my UPS truck where at the time I had delivery trucks which you know, weather breakdown, you know, just you name it. I had every problem you could imaginable. And I’m like, wait, while I was home over the weekend, I just received a bunch of orders. They’re higher profit because they kept I was determined it will be to be man. I’m b2b. We’re going after businesses that add up on the 90s who was buying on the internet? Our generation Gen X Yeah. Going after the business owners Well, when you and I were in our 20s, the business owners were our age now. Yeah. And they weren’t going on the internet might you know, in 1995, I’m going to take a credit card, and I’m going to punch it into a computer. Are you insane? And now
Damon Pistulka 23:16
that’s all I gotta do.
Exactly, exactly. So are like for me, so also in all the objects were buying from me over and over and over, and I’m like, you know, my prices lower than what they would pay retail because I’m wholesale. I’m charging them more so I’m getting better profit margin. I’m being paid before the product goes out the door. I’m like, this is a dream come true. I’m like, do you pass chocolate back up? I’m like, dude, take it and I never have to see it again. I don’t mean to, you know, sound flippant. You know, we’re very customer service oriented. Yeah, you know, it but I didn’t have to deliver it. I had no receivables it just, I was in business. 24 seven. We ended up going to a fulfillment center. So I mean, the benefits, it’s changed my life, you know, yeah. And so Then it just a passion of like, Well, Jesus worked for me this I was a total train wreck. And I’m like, if I can do it, dude, you can do it. You know. So that’s been my, my the jump that I’d be.
Damon Pistulka 24:10
Yeah. You know, the interesting thing is, is when you talk about that and what you did on a product basis, I did early in my career earlier in my career in a in a manufacturing company where we we actually manufactured checkout counters for grocery stores. Okay, yeah, yeah, we had a couple of large, large plants. But what we did is we from from a, from an operational and a customer perspective, we redesigned the line to be very configurable and standardized, right, because this wasn’t the time when when designers still designed in stuff that wasn’t all connected. Yeah. And but what we are doing without realizing it is we were creating a configurable set of variables that that people could just punch in numbers. And it made it very easy to sell because I go, I want this model, I want it this long I want it to with this accident cover, I want this. And as you talk about how you help manufacturers, if I would have had a solution like that back then I would have made it to the customers could have ordered that thing. Without even talking to anybody anytime of the day or night they wanted to which would have been groundbreaking in that industry. Right. And and it’s and as you say that and that’s this is the thing that’s always intrigued me a lot about what you what you’re saying, because as you take this concept, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a standard product. And you got an example where you helped a company with I believe it was a ground strap. That’s right, explain a little bit about that.
Curt Anderson 25:50
Sure. So yeah, I don’t have an example. So So
no, in a great thing. So again, just just did a webinar. This week and I use that I use that example. I have the example my book and I have the exam kind of beat it to death. But the thing is, as I go through that process, I don’t want to say it’s applicable to you know, like what you know Susie, her an entrepreneur say, Oh, it’s for anything and everybody, it’s not it for anything and everybody, for the companies that it’s applicable for the example I used, and I’ll get into this in a second. As I was doing my workshop, I’m like, it was for business advisors here, all throughout New York State and small business development centers for all business advisors. And I’m like, this would be applicable for a pizza. We’re like, okay, I can show these I want pepperoni I want this. It could be relevant for insurance where I’m 51 years old, I have two and a half kids I have to you know, like, you know, whatever that menu is, you could create it so this to this. So what Damon’s talking about, so real quick, I work with a custom manufacturer been around since 1985. JOHN, baby boomer owns it. Same guy that founded it owns it today. I mean, how often do you about a guy, you know, or Nigeria or a man or a woman owes the same business, no business partners for 35 years, as you know, most businesses closing the first you know, four out of five close in the first five years and he does. So you know, but again, he’s had a great run he does fixtures for like any sort of fixtures for Walmart and Lowe’s and in great company, great Run, run but as the brick and mortar stores are now you know, everything is focused on e commerce. They got kind of caught off guard, you know, that customer that’s 2030 50% of sales. Now, what do I do? I’m 30 years in what do I do? So we started instituting a ecommerce strategy is we’re going around the shop and just kind of brainstorming they make this little thing. It’s called a ground strap. And then a thousands and thousands of this little thing as a ground strap. And a ground strap goes in any electrical device that you can think of an example I use with you a few weeks ago was planes trains, automobiles, yeah appliances in your home that computer We’ve been staring at for the past two months, everything has to be grounded. Otherwise you guys would all look like me, you’d be electrocuted and shakima. So they make thousands and thousands of these for two separate VMs in the auto and trucking industry. And they have the equipment, they’ve the machinery, and it’s very inexpensive. And they’ve the expertise, they had all the raw material and the raw materials readily available. It’s cheap, profit margins are fantastic. I’m like, dude, let’s take a shot. Like what we just saw a webpage up and start marketing these as an e commerce store. So our risk our investment was a web page, and he’s on a WordPress website. So we took, you know, probably have probably most of you know people around in WordPress. Yeah. Their ecommerce plugin is called WooCommerce, which is also free my favorite word, and we put that on, we just almost create like a fictitious line of products and put it on a website. Like it’s really nice to see anybody When it comes to it, so sure enough, I always call like when I work with clients I call it like those ideal dream clients dream customers. I call them soulmates. How can we find your soulmate? And so sure enough, an industrial buyer, then all sudden, you know, OEM comes along, auto in our oil industry, agriculture, awesome Boeing, Britain, your backyard Boeing giving an order. So here’s this little manufacturer costs it, you know, in upstate New York, and Boeing, us and Halliburton buys Pratt and Whitney buys like it was like multiple fortune 500 companies by so then the challenge was, a lot of people were like, hey, well, we’d like what you have. We like this length, or we love your prices. We’d like what you have, but we need this length, not what you have. We need this width or different configuration, just like you’re talking about with a cashout
conveyor belt. So we’re like, Hey, we went to our web designer. This is a guy I’ve been working with for like 15 years phenomenal guy. Like hey, can we create like a little story? Offer tool where we could make our own, our customer could come on and make their own software tool or make their own ground strike rather. And again, the the drum that I beat is, how can I help the customer make a buying decision Friday night at midnight without having to wait for us to buy or to open? And so sure enough, man, he just crushed it. So we have this little software tool, I go when I do a presentation, I go through the slides. I mean, it’s so kiss, it is so stupid, simple. Like even it’s five steps, it takes 60 seconds or less. We have a video on each page. And again, if you’re listening, you know for those listeners, it’s not about it’s not about me or this little ground strap example. It’s about how can you make it so simple for your customer to buy. How can you create a software tool that’s just so easy and then like this cost us like a couple grand and not sort of a video on each step. And sure enough, fortune 500 company are soulmates. We had a great time. About a month ago during COVID, we had virgin Hyperloop. And it’s one of Richard Branson. His high speed train down in La 600 miles an hour. I mean, he found our little company and use our software tool for this cutting edge. We’re like we would have never found that customer. You know, in a wrap up on the, on that example, this customer right now, his top customers are like Lowe’s Target, WalMart, and then he says a bunch of other you know, he’s somewhat diverse. But bulk are those three Guess who’s not buying right now. Walmart Lowe’s target because they’re just so laser focused on trying to get product out the door. They’re not buying fixtures. So because he diversified. He’s in decent shape right now. Yeah, so and he’s, he’s getting orders daily for these grounds for this particular item, and it’s ones and twos, but he never knows when that one piece is going to turn into that thousand piece or that engineer at Boeing. That needs. Yes. What you know, so
Curt Anderson 32:02
I’m sorry for that sorry to ramble on, but that’s
Damon Pistulka 32:04
the No, no, but I just love it because you’re you’re you’re hitting the heart of what I think is is ultimately for a company like that. Yes, they’ve got another product line, but for that product, right? You give an engineer an easy way to get a prototype. You give it you give a yes, man that the startup company the way that they can buy 10 of them that could turn into a million of them. It just so many things that happen like that is just cool as heck. You know?
Curt Anderson 32:34
Yeah, we had a customer in agriculture, like
pig pig farmers something Yeah. And gave the guy you know, he ordered like $9,000 worth of ground straps. We’re like, What on earth is a farmer, you know? Well, it was a very heavy duty and again, we configured it, he use our software tool and look at the competitive advantage here. You know, like so say if somebody was going overseas or cheap imports or what have you They can’t, he’s created a competitive advantage that nobody else can engage with. They can again Friday night at midnight, go on to the heat, they’re creating their very own product. It doesn’t exist anywhere on the planet. It’s I need 17 and a half inches. Where are you going to find this item? And again, it’s not about me or my example. Think about you or your business. Yeah. And in this person on Monday morning, we’re we have the equipment and flexibility. We make it that day. And it goes out and go into shipping is phenomenal. So and here’s the last thing for you. So we’re like, Okay, how can we diversify? Like hey, I hate I’ve been following Jeff Bezos since 1995 you know being an e commerce guy and obviously I’m not quite as successful as he is but so I’ve been following Amazon but I always I never wanted go on Amazon just you know, you hear the you know, they copy your product or whatever. We put our product we put this particular item on Amazon in June. their product if you if you do a search on Amazon for growth with straps, they’re the number one organically we don’t pay a penny for advertising. They’re number one. And they actually, if you ever shopped on Amazon, Amazon, you see that little Amazon’s choice. It’s the badge of honor saying like, we we give our blessing on this product. They have the Amazons choice. They have a best seller button. And a guy’s looking to do six figures this year. And it’s a $3 item. It’s a $3 item. He’s looking to do six figures just with Amazon. And this would again no receivables. Easy, isn’t it? You know, so again, because he stood up and had the guts to take the chance. It’s it’s a nice diversification for this guy. Yeah.
Damon Pistulka 34:39
Yeah, it’s cool. Well, I just looked up that I didn’t even realize that we we’ve got we’ve got viewers actually Joseph stemp keys out there he Hmm. Yeah, Joe. Joe is actually did a comment for us here. And just want to let people know I realized I don’t have Kurt’s name up on the screen. But this Kurt Anderson with us, and man, we’re just talking a little bit here about how how some of these companies you wouldn’t expect could use e commerce to help their customers and and you bring up a really valid point with making it easy for the customer to buy. And an example that I always drove me crazy and I was actually talking to someone a couple years ago about this now an e commerce person is my spouse had had to work and work in large medical companies, okay, selling devices stuff you don’t even want to know that they make I usually But anyway, the ordering process was so manual that I couldn’t believe it. I’m like they’re still filling out purchase orders and junk like that. And you think about the the massive amount of time saving that you can do in a company like that where if if I want to buy This product from your company, why are you not making it easy? Why are you not making even if it’s a closed site where you can’t get to the public can get to it, but I never have to do anything. You know, I remember when was it? It had to be 1012 years ago now Granger had their setup like that. Yep. Remember when the very first started to do it, is that I was running a company and and one of my, one of my purchasing people said, Listen, I want to start buying from Granger and I said, Why do you want to buy from Granger said well, they’re they’re about the same price as everyone else. But they keep my, all of our supplies. They make it easy. All we do is go in and we just put how many we want and they send them every you know, it’s just this like they said and this was it was it was like oh, and they had everything to you know, so it just made it so much easier. And this that the e commerce piece that people are missing in their businesses could be that piece. That really, one day saves them.
Absolutely. And I would, you know, as we continue conversations, I’d love to hear your take on this. But I also, again, like my my book, in my book I saw I talked about it keeps you in your wheelhouse e commerce keeps you in your wheelhouse and again, especially with custom manufacturers, you know, and you see it with the manufacturers that you deal with, and it’s more so on the custom side, but it’s, you know, you get the RF Q, you know, and again, most low a lot of manufacturers are not noted for their marketing expertise. And so when a nerf two comes in the door, man, it’s it’s bells are ringing, it’s exciting. And yet it’s not quite what we do, you know, it’s like I’m over here but maybe that are excused. So, so we’re going to pursue it because I want to keep the machines running and I want to keep staff and people they don’t and you find yourself out of your wheelhouse, you know, and I know if I just share a quick tip with you. And so, you know, 100 years ago, I was probably like, you know, 2000 again, I was a train wreck entrepreneur trying to build this business. And he caught, you know, a bubble, it just
Curt Anderson 38:12
burst. And you know, I’m like, What am I crazy trying to, you know?
And so I had I had I decided to diversify. So I was, I had five different things going on. So if anybody talked to me like, hey, Kurt, what do you got going on? Like, man, I’m diversified. I thought I was cool. And I was, you know, I was trying to set my tone like some manufacturing. I was dropshipping. I was wholesaling this ecommerce thing. And I wasn’t going to get caught being vulnerable with one one or two things. I was diversify. Yeah. And so the thing is, I was great at growing sales, but I was not my bottom line was horrendous. I always said, Man, I sold my dollars for 97 cents better than anybody. So unless you sold your dollars for 96 cents. Nobody was beating me, man. So the business was growing. I was spending more than I was making and I’m like, God, I So I’m doing something terrible. So I brought a consultant. And she comes in and she sits down. She’s like, Hey, you know, tell me about your business. I’m like, Man, I’m diversified. You know, I’m like, 30 years old, and, you know, kind of you puffing my chest. And she’s like, Well tell me about it. I’m like, Well, I do this, this, this, you know that. And she’s like, why? So I explained, each one had no competitive advantage, and like, you know, several areas. She’s like, Well, why are you doing this? And I’m like, well, because, you know, I’m trying to justify why you’re doing this, you know, that she was. I’ll tell you what your problem is. You’re doing five things horribly, instead of one or two things exceptionally. Yeah, get rid of the other three or four things and focus, everything you’ve got in one thing. And I could I go, Well, look how good you are ago, you just saw my problem in 30 minutes. I don’t need to talk to you again. And like we were kind of kidding. But she really did kind of solve my problem in 30 minutes, and move that conversation. She said, Well, what’s your core? What do you guys absolutely best at what I’m like what our legacy we’re holding. business, but man, the future I’m telling you, it’s e commerce. She’s like, you focus on e commerce and data that you know, and again, so it turned my philosophy around, it turned my focus around. And so I’m sure you see it on a daily basis. And unfortunately, custom manufacturers, they’re so eager to grab that RF cue. It takes them out of the wheelhouse. They’re going to buy different machinery, different tooling, different what have you, you know, lacking experience. Now they misquoted it after they’ve already they find that out after they start making it. Oh, yeah, we’re e commerce. We’re this this whole process like that goofy example. I just gave you the ground strap. It keeps you all the engineering is already done. I’ve already done it. You did that conveyor belt, all that engineering is already done. Yeah. And now it’s it’s not quite the Henry Ford. You can have whatever color you want as long as it’s black, but it’s just narrowing down the focus staying in my wheelhouse and you’re just creeping up competitive advantage. We’re nobody can touch you. Yeah. You’re just relentlessly focused on being the absolute best at that, whatever it is that whatever problem you solve,
Damon Pistulka 41:09
yeah, yeah. Well in that company, the the interesting thing, what standardization allowed us to do on that company is we went from an eight week lead time down to attend a lead time.
Isn’t it? Awesome?
Damon Pistulka 41:20
Yeah. And we cornered the market. I mean, really kill it. We could do things that nobody else could be because it all started with the fact in the end, it’s a little different than the e commerce focus. But it started with the fact that we talked to the customer, because we had to 400,000 square feet of manufacturing. And about I think that time at 250 odd people in those in the factory parts of it working. And we had almost about I think it was close to 40,000 square feet of product that was finished at any one time that was there because a construction schedule would change. And out of the frustration of those things would set so long they would get damaged, we’d have to rebuild whatever you know. And that because you’re trying to store these big things, we figured out that we realized that we needed to be able to cut our lead time within the timeframe that the cost of the construction schedules were firm. And by doing that, we didn’t realize really, that we would be able to the standardization process would drop the price, the cost of it by about 30%. And the manufacturing lead time, you know, we knew we were going to do that, but we didn’t know we could get it down to 25% of what it was.
Curt Anderson 42:40
I mean, what’s that 75% drop in lead time. I mean, that’s just,that’s just staggering.
Damon Pistulka 42:46
We cut the manufacturing space in half. We went from 400,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet and, and increase the volume by about 40%. And drop the skews the same by about 50,000 skews, automating this kind of thing. But it does the kind of things that you can get when you really think about a business differently. Like e commerce allows you to do allows you to do things that you just your your competitors will not do. Either they’re too stuck in their ways or whatever they whatever they are. And I think the the example that you, you have shown is so relevant for so many companies I talked to you, as you said, talk to companies almost daily and and I talked to a company last year, the CEO of a company last year, they sold automotive lubricants, right? Yeah. And I forget what size they were. They were. They weren’t they weren’t small by any means. It was under 50 million, but not by much, you know, so nice sized company. Well, they have just started playing with e commerce. I never saw a few million dollars for the e commerce stuff either. Is that crazy? No, it’s nuts when you start to think about this, and it’s like some of these businesses can can drive 1020 50% increase in sales, just by hitting the customer now that does not want to go to the store,
Curt Anderson 44:16
right here. You know,
here’s a staggering stat that I threw out this week. So manufactured goods in the United States in 20. I don’t have 19 numbers in 2018 was $6 trillion manufactured goods of that $6 trillion 356 was distributed via e commerce, that comes out to 5.9% 5.9%. So there’s a 94% upside of e commerce opportunity of $6 trillion. So I mean, even if you’re just in that 356 billion grew 22% from 2017 to 18. I don’t I don’t know what it is. Did from 918 and 19. And it’s it’s it’s growing at double digits every year. But even at double digits, you’re going from 6% to maybe seven 8%. If somebody’s looking for a pivot right now, or an opportunity, man b2b e commerce or if you’re a manufacturer, or distributor important wherever you are, I mean, and that’s and, you know, back with my, that where I was all over the board, like in that focus, when you get that focus, now you have a key word strategy. So, I mean, the strategy impacts your tactics, you know what I mean? So, like, if I’m a custom manufacturer, I do CNC I manufacturer, you know, whatever, I’m broad, I’m struggling to get those leads, but when I narrow it, in, I focus in I’ve found a market in a niche, it just now I know what social to do. I know what keywords to attack it just really it just, it makes, I don’t say easier, but it just makes things a lot more concise.
Damon Pistulka 45:58
It has focused IT folks Cuz you’re not doing a little bit for everyone you’re doing a lot for a very deep right very deep market
exactly like times you’re nothing nobody you know when you try to be everything to everybody you know so it just it certainly makes it difficult you know but yeah
Damon Pistulka 46:14
yeah let’s cool stuff Kurt I’m sure sure appreciate you taken the time today and absolutely man it’s my honor.
Curt Anderson 46:21
Thank you dude.
Damon Pistulka 46:22
It’s great to just talk with you about this stuff and I can talk about for hours but I will I will save some of this for another day because I know additional conversations and I’ve got a few other few other stories that I’d like to share in the in the future on this but I appreciate your time today guys. I’ve got Kearney Anderson with us today on the Business Roundtable, talking a little bit about helping businesses you know, explore and utilize e commerce to diversify their customer base, Kurt, someone that can help you out. Now Kurt, if they want to get ahold of you what’s the best way to do that?
Well like yourself, I’m not not at your level, but I’m a LinkedIn junkie. So you know, LinkedIn is the best way. I actually I created. I’ve been blogging I blog every week, and I created a bunch of free ecommerce resource guides. Yeah. And say it’s called b2b tail. So kind of like it’s play on words, instead of retail, it’s b2b tell, so be the number to be tale calm. I have a bunch of free resource guides, kind of e commerce checklists are really free to anybody who wants them. And so that’s how you can. Yep,
Damon Pistulka 47:34
yeah, well, I forgot to even talk about the fact that I was just reading your LinkedIn articles today and going through some of that stuff. And well, we’ll get to that another time. Yeah, man. Just Thanks a lot.
Thank you, dude, this is on and this is an honor man. I appreciate our friendship. And I love Thursdays and any entrepreneurs out there that are looking to grow their business or they’re thinking succession plan. They need to they need to team up with you and Andrew and I really admire what you guys do. So thank you.
Damon Pistulka 48:00
Hey, thanks a lot, Kurt. And for now, everyone, we’re gonna sign out and I will put Kurt’s information in both in the Facebook and the YouTube. So you can see that as well. But thanks again and we will talk soon.
Curt Anderson 48:15
Thanks Damon. Appreciate it buddy. Bye