January 5, 2018
Accelerator Report from Daniel Pitts Winegarden, JD
We continue with the final recap from the 2017 Innovation Roadshow, held on October 10 at the Sukup Manufacturing Co. Tech Center.
Matt Schroeder, Engineering Manager of Stellar Industries, Inc. brought the biggest visual aid – a brand new TMAX aluminum service truck. It’s a perfect example of solving a new problem for an existing customer base. Stellar is a leader in providing service trucks tailored to specific end-customer needs, like heavy equipment tire mechanics. Stellar has a long history of innovation with this customer base, where tires fail far from service bays, so the service has to go to the tire, and not vice versa.
Iowa manufacturers and logistics companies are familiar with the growing shortage of middle skill workers. This same problem is hitting Stellar’s tire service customers hard. Heavy service trucks require a commercial driver’s license (CDL), an increasingly scarce and expensive skill. Now try to find a tire mechanic with a CDL. This skilled labor pain point is a bottleneck for growth for tire service companies and for Stellar Industries equipment sales to tire service companies.
Turns out aluminum is good for more than just improving EPA-ratings in passenger vehicles. (See the new Ford F-150.) An aluminum-bodied service body on a straight-frame truck is enough lighter to fall below the weight that requires a CDL to drive. Suddenly, any tire mechanic in a Stellar TMAX aluminum service truck can now deploy to the field. No CDL required. The increased corrosion-resistance of aluminum is a bonus. Solving this customer pain point requires deep understanding of the day-to-day business of the customer. But the reward is outsized. The patent-pending solution improves a customer’s financial performance by reducing labor-costs and improving labor flexibility. It’s worth a premium. And it’s selling like hotcakes.
Steve Weiss, President of NutriQuest, LLC, shared his team’s rebranding effort and how focusing on organizational values, their priority, and the customer changed strategy and strengthened relationships. NutriQuest’s brand offers innovation driven by servitude. Being customer servants informs everything. It’s the livestock producing customer that demands innovation in agriculture. Innovation requires ingenuity. Practical solutions to difficult problems require hard work, thinking “outside the box”, and persistence. The resulting brand vision or promise is:
Improve the way animal producers succeed and flourish by delivering breakthrough solutions, built on trusting personal relationships.
Weiss shared the branding process and values focus. Great process delivers meaningful results, including deeper client relationships as a trusted partner and sales growth. Another, go home and do likewise tool.
Did you make it to the 2017 Innovation Roadshow? If the answer is no, take heart – we’re planning on following up with a 2018 Innovation Roadshow. In October, we focused on advanced manufacturing but the potentials are limitless. One of the topics suggested for the next Innovation Roadshow is big data – how can information technology expand your relationship to your customers past the one-time sale of equipment? Or, would you like to talk about innovation in marketing and sales channels? We’d love your input! Iowa is growing through the efforts of its innovators, thinkers, and dreamers – the Innovation Roadshow brings you together for a day of discussion, learning, and sharing to make the most of our rural Iowa connections.