Tommy Huskey, CEO, Gardner Glass Products, North Wilkesboro, N.C.
The economy has not been our best friend for the past 18 months to two years. It has been very rough on the construction industry, which makes up the majority of our sales. However, in a way, I’m sort of happy to report that we battened down the hatches in advance of the recession hitting. Our industry — the mirror industry — has been very competitive and in an overcapacity position for as long as I can remember, and this is my 30th year in the mirror business. Our company was founded in 1962, and up through the ‘90s, we sold mirror on a per-square-foot, truckload basis. We saw a need to change our company and our business in the late 1990s, and that’s when we invented the word “Dreamwalls.” Now, we have Dreamwalls Color Glass, Dreamwalls Marble Glass and OnGlass Experts. Originally, we were looking at creating the ‘walls of your dreams,’ and now that has been expanded to the ‘world of your dreams.’ We make products for vertical and horizontal surfaces that enhance your environment.
We developed a culture within our organization to help create innovation in the marketplace, and Dreamwalls has given us optimism when things might seem bleak. We haven’t gotten on base or hit a home run every time we’ve stepped up to the plate … but we’re getting a lot more at bats than we would cornered in the bat room by a contractor.
Diane Staples, communications coordinator, Mainstreet Computers, Belleville, Mich.
Mainstreet began to see how the declining economy was brutally impacting our software customers, which therefore rippled down to us. We were forced to evaluate business and make adjustments, but did not want to lose any of our outstanding employees in the process. So, we devised a plan that would leverage our existing resources and create a new source for revenue.
Four years ago, Mainstreet Computers expanded business to provide Web Services for glass shops and other companies. The birth of this new division addressed the marketing needs our customers had, while allowing us to keep our employee staff intact by restructuring responsibilities. We began with a few shops signing up to have a professional, custom Web site built, and it has now exploded into a solid secondary division of Mainstreet.
We know the economic and business culture will continually change. As it does, we will persist in providing business solutions that will improve efficiency and increase income for our customers, which may in effect become new profit centers for Mainstreet.
David Cates, vice president of sales and marketing, Flat Glass Distributors, Jacksonville, Fla.
Our slogan is: “We’re redefining customer service in this industry.” From a financial standpoint, for example, it has been tough to get people to pay, and we feel like sometimes we finance the industry for our customers. But we decided to try to work with people, and we’ve had success. We’re [also] in the process of putting together a preferred partner program. It’s a customer loyalty-type reward program that provides marketing services: a Web site, e-mail surveys for customers, follow-up Internet marketing and things like that. The whole idea is to send business to our customers.