SCHMIDT has been around for a long time. In fact, they still have the old hammer and hand stamp technology in their product mix. The portfolio has expanded now, of course, to include the latest in laser systems and pin marking for 2D data matrix, barcode marking and just about every marking application you can think of. Engrave a poem on the head of a pin? They can do it!
At this point, many legacy companies would call it a day and bank on their catalogue to keep money flowing. That’s a recipe for disaster, according to SCHMIDT President, Chuck Banker, who was brought in a year ago to ensure that the company keeps pace with the market and grows beyond its current portfolio of products. We talked to him about what progress he’s seen so far.
Chuck is happy to state that 2017 ended on a very strong, positive note and all signs point to more of the same in the new year. “All analytics are trending up, including sales and customer confidence,” he said. “In fact, the company had to expand the sales team to keep up with customer demand!” But what’s going right? What new programs have everyone so fired up? Let’s take a look.
A Stronger and Deeper Foundation
When Chuck arrived, the plan for the future of SCHMIDT was pretty much the status quo. Not a lot of innovation was going on. He created a new operations team, keeping the best of the experienced veterans and bringing in new talent who looked at every aspect of the organization with fresh eyes. The goal was to build a unique culture that still had roots in the past, but is firmly focused on the future. Chuck now believes the chemistry is just right, citing a new feeling of confidence, cooperation and job satisfaction that has become apparent on the shop floor.
Chuck immediately put the revitalized team to work on developing new products. Four were launched within 3 months of his arrival. These are already contributing to the bottom line. The product process is so compressed in the marking industry, the company has become permanently proactive, with eight more launches in the pipeline for this year. While still under wraps, Chuck says the products are very diverse, will reach across the company’s entire product portfolio and are aimed at the cross-over medical, government and military market segments as well as general industry. Their introductions will be staggered throughout the year so that each one gets its moment in the marketing spotlight.
“The nimbleness and agility that will allow us to take advantage of fast developing market trends are now part of the corporate culture,” Chuck said. “The industry is moving so fast, we’re already making plans for our 2019 product launches.”
Our Secret Weapon
How do we know what products will find a ready place in the market? Analyzing technology trends is helpful, but we have enlisted some of the finest experts in the field to advise us – our customers. The program is called “The Voice of the Customer” and it is a major element of our product development process. We ask for their feedback on product designs and use it to match their needs as closely as possible. They have proven to be an invaluable resource to help us determine the validity of prospective new products. In fact, this feedback is so important that we have dedicated a manager on the marketing team to drive this project on a full-time basis.
In addition to a healthy bottom line, a renewed spirit of cooperation and optimism can be seen in the organization. One example is that we had 100% participation in the “Feed My Starving Children” program we sponsored on December 22. Together, working as a single unit, we all packed enough food to feed 178 children for an entire year. “This all-out effort shows that people at every level of the firm are energized and excited, not only to work hard, but to give back to the community,” Chuck commented. “This new feeling of unity and collaboration has to be one of the big wins of 2017, and will be the foundation for our fiscal and personal success in the future.”
Just the Beginning
Watch this space, because other new programs, including a plan for additional international sales, are under development for this year and the next. The bottom line is, we’re proud of our past, but from now on, something new will always be brewing at SCHMIDT.