Last quarter “steel” was one of the most sourced products on the Thomasnet.com platform. Sheet metal and metal stamping facilities are rising and contributing to the growth of this market. But it also comes as no surprise when steel and metals represent an important supply source to the aerospace, aviation, and medical industries — timely to today’s global pandemic of COVID-19.
So how can steel and metal manufacturing businesses continue the momentum of their business growth? First, make sure you have a clear business plan. Some manufacturers try to grow their manufacturing business by doing everything possible. Choose business goals that are realistic and document them so you can see your milestones and track your growth along the way. You may overwhelm yourself and your employees if you don’t have a clear plan first.
Understand What Your Employees Need To Thrive
You may have heard before that when you keep your employees happy, they keep your customers happy. It’s true that both your employees and your customers are at the heart of what you do — and key to business success.
Amerequip Corporation, a designer and manufacturer for the utility tractor, skid steer loader, and lawn & garden equipment markets implemented a number of steps that contributed to their $150 million annual revenue. One of the first steps was improving the culture of their internal teams. They needed to improve processes and reduce employee turnover to ensure their business was equipped to handle more growth. Ameriquip modified their working hours with morning and afternoon shifts that run 10 hours each, Monday through Thursday, and a weekend shift that comprises three 12-hour days, Friday to Sunday — and they’re now able to fill their talent pipeline.
Flexibility is what the modern workforce is looking for today, and it’s a solving factor of one of the challenges many U.S. manufacturers are still experiencing to bridge the generational gap. Addressing internal improvements can ultimately lead to efficiencies, improved quality control on the shop floor, and an increase in customer base.
Build On A Customer-Centric Model
As a business owner, we know you’re already focused on servicing your customers — but don’t get so busy tending to their needs that you forget they’re key to attracting new ones. Keep your customers happy by communicating with them regularly — outside of regular customer service needs or problems. Involve them in your new growth plan and ask them for feedback about what you could be doing better. This helps you keep their needs top-of-mind while opening opportunities to address new challenges for other customers. Also, reminding customers of your presence when they least expect it can go a long way in keeping them in your accounts receivable column. You may get a customer referral out of it.
Another Angle: What To Do If You Lose A Key Customer
Take Advantage Of Modern Technologies
We can’t stress it enough — it’s an increasingly digital world today and the strength of your online presence is more important now than ever. Many manufacturers may argue they don’t need an online presence because they have sustained growth through word-of-mouth referrals and traditional growth methods. But this creates a false sense of security. Seemingly overnight, COVID-19 changed the way businesses operate and individuals live their lives. Video conferencing has taken a big role in meetings, tradeshow dollars are being shifted to be used toward online solutions — more manufacturers are investing in different ways to stay connected with their customers.
Corrugated Metals set a record for quotes and tapped into the aerospace industry after investing in online advertising from Thomasnet.com — read their case study here.
Steel and metal manufacturing companies looking to grow need to take advantage of the digital revolution not only from a marketing perspective, but to improve operation models and the supply chain. Digitization in the steel and metals industry will give supply chain access to real-time information and appropriately respond to unpredictable changes in the market while decreasing risk and providing opportunities for growth.
Growth For Continental Steel & Tube Company
The manufacturing industry has always aspired toward supply chain consolidation. Sourcing your products from fewer suppliers can significantly benefit your company’s bottom line and reduce frustrations.
This kind of consolidation helped Continental Steel’s Don Ascione grow his business in a way he didn’t plan for — but was able to recognize and capitalize on as a metal specialist with a world-class network. Continental Steel has established itself over the years as a company whose specialty is sourcing hard-to-find metals. Ascione, the company’s founder, utilized his background in operations management and his connections from around the United States and Mexico to amass a tremendous network of metal suppliers.
By supplying numerous fabrication contacts with necessary materials, Ascione also created a tight-knit network of fabricators. This network allows Continental Steel to act as a manufacturers representative for the fabrication companies and sell projects to customers looking for pressure vessels or staircases (as an example).
Continental Steel has an advantage to really help the customer because he can choose the best fabricator for the job, as well as provide the best pricing on the raw material for the project. The customer gets the best of both worlds, and the network gets more business as well.
When Ascione realized the opportunity to generate revenue from connecting customers with the very fabricators he was supplying, he leapt at the chance. It couldn’t have happened without Continental Steel’s expertise, knowledge, reliability, and firm establishment as a leading source for procuring elusive metals.
Knowing that opportunities like these are few and far between, Ascione seized the opportunity to nurture this new stream of revenue. Pairing a network of metal specialists with fabricators is tremendously helpful for clients. Rather than looking to Continental Steel for metal procurement exclusively, groups can now find the fabrication services they need for their project, which they previously would have needed to quote from somewhere else.
Continental Steel is now positioned to meet all of its clients’ needs, from finding whatever metal materials are required for the project, to developing the top-quality final product. Clients know that the caliber of fabrication will be unsurpassed because of the wide reach to find the best for the job.
His team works to find metals and fabricators for his clients so they don’t have to do it themselves. And now Continental Steel has become a leading source for metals procurement around the globe and a premier source for custom fabrication, as well.
Take a look at Sourcing Trend Data to see how steel and metal services surged in demand for procurement professionals and engineers on Thomasnet.com in Q2 2020
Foster Growth With Manufacturing Business Resources
Navigating the digital landscape can be tough, along with changing global policies, and complicated distribution channels — as a manufacturing business owner, you already have so much on your plate to manage. But Thomas has been powering the manufacturing industry for more than 120 years, connecting buyers to suppliers and helping engineers get their jobs done. Our industrial experts have compiled the below resources to help ensure your business grows and continues to prosper no matter what economic or global health situations come your way.
Our related blogs to keep you up to date on the latest industry tips:
- The Importance Of Marketing And Advertising During Economic Downturn
- The Manufacturer's Playbook For Direct-To-Consumer Selling
- How CAD Models Drive Lead Generation
- What Manufacturers Need To Know About The Defense Production Act
- 6 Common Mistakes That Job Shops Make
Our online solutions to help you grow:
- Learn about our free video content production services to help manufacturers and industrial companies connect with more customers creatively online when travel is restricted.
- To see where you can improve online and how your brand compares to competitors, request a free Digital Health Check.
- Increase your RFQs with a free Thomasnet.com profile and connect with new customers on the platform where more than a million buyers from a variety of industries and geographies source are sourcing for products and services.
- See the exact companies that are searching for your steel and metals manufacturing services with a free In-Market Buyer Report.
- For articles just like these, subscribe to our daily email newsletter Thomas Industry Update.
Editor's Note: If you're sourcing suppliers for COVID-19 items, click here for those manufacturers and distributors. If your industrial business can support the production of essential supplies to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, please complete this form to notify us of your availability and willingness to dedicate resources. Thomas is working with State and Federal Government offices to help mobilize manufacturers to deliver supplies and services.
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