Custom motor and generator manufacturer Windings Inc. teams up with Enterprise Minnesota to pinpoint new customer markets and grow its business.
Since 1965, Windings Inc. had a marketing budget of nearly zero. The company, which custom manufactures motor and generator parts for a variety of industries, has primarily grown the old fashioned way via word of mouth from satisfied customers.
But as company leaders sought more growth and diversification, they decided to research which markets might reveal the best opportunities for new customers. "There are lots of people out there who need just what we do," says Jerry Kaufman, president and CEO. "They need
our service and skills, and they don't know that we exist. We're trying to dramatically improve our ability to make the people who need us aware that we're here."
First, Windings leaders brainstormed general industries in which they saw possible expansion opportunities. To identify specific market niches and companies within those industries, the company partnered with Roger Hurd, Enterprise Minnesota process engineering specialist, to
conduct market research. Hurd confirmed that the wind energy, ocean energy and surgical tool industries contained potential customers for Windings. He also provided the company with a list of specific businesses it might pursue. With a wind energy trade show coming up, Hurd helped
Windings define a specific marketing message it could present to attendees.
Scott Ward, executive vice president and CFO, says the marketing research and messaging helped Windings target a wider spectrum of potential customers and turn more interested companies into customers.
"Probably 30 percent of the contacts that we made [at the wind energy trade show] were real strong potentials," Ward says. "In other words, we got higher-quality contacts because we were able to present a message that said, 'Yes, you need to be working with us.' "
One month after its market research efforts, Windings had two new customers in the wind energy market, and it expects to enter the ocean energy and surgical tool markets in the coming months. New customers in these markets could grow the business ten percent within the next
year or two, Ward says. The biggest challenge this year will be to pursue potential customers without being too pesky.
"We've been pretty passive in the past, so we need to be a little bit more aggressive," Ward says. "But we need to be smart in that aggressiveness."