Construction Professionals are Adapting to Technology

Are you ready for technology?When is the last time you used a Rolodex?  Have you played a VHS tape in the past year?  How often are you pulling your car up to a payphone to call a customer?

Of course, in 2013 these actions seem silly to us.  If you are currently engaging in any of those activities, you are way behind your competition.  Professional business people are saving vCards, sending YouTube links, and communicating with customers via text, email, cell phone, social media, etc.  And professional business people in the construction industries are starting to catch on, too.

For the past several years, it has been difficult to explain to construction professionals the benefits of utilizing technology to market their business.  During the economic downturn, many businesses were fighting to stay afloat, let alone ramp up their marketing.  As we begin to climb our way out of the hole that we were in, many companies are catching on to the “new” ways of marketing, and are beginning to realize just how important they can be to their respective businesses.

I was fortunate enough to attend the EIFS Industry Members Association (or EIMA) General Session in March of this year.  The group has been very active on social media (give them a follow on Twitter), despite a low volume of EIFS chatter on websites like Facebook and Twitter.  Regardless, they are pushing forward, and during their update, I noticed something very interesting.  The industry executives who may have been daydreaming during the same presentation a year ago, were taking thorough notes and even (dare I say it) signing up for social media accounts on their smart phones!  I heard far less grumbling about Twitter being “a fad” and more enthusiasm about the opportunity to better engage their customers.

And this was not an isolated incident.  I’ve had conversations with vendors about blogging and how it can help customers get to know their company cultures.  A contractor has approached me about the QR code on my business card, and asked how he can use the same technology.  We have even had an astonishing 35% of our customers turn down a copy of our printed catalog in favor of utilizing our eCatalog.

The point of all of this is that being in business today means stepping outside of our comfort zones and looking for new ways to brand ourselves and further develop and nurture the relationships we have with our customers.  My only question for you is: are you ready for technology?

-Ryan

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A Small Step Toward Environmental Responsibility

eCatalog E-blastAs a marketer, my primary interest is learning how our customers perceive, interact with, and utilize the resources that we provide.  One of the most important pieces of marketing material that we provide is our annual catalog.  Our customers anticipate this toward the beginning of every year and expect new and exciting things each time we release it.

However, as things move more and more into the digital world, we wanted to explore just how customers are using our catalog.  In 2010 in addition to releasing a print version, we put our catalog online in an easy-to-use eCatalog (we even made a video talking about the benefits of using it).  We’ve heard positive things since, and have continued placing our catalog online for fast and easy viewing.

Collectively, we recognize that our customers enjoy having a physical book to flip through and find our products.  But we also see our customer base becoming more and more attached to laptops, smartphones, and tablets, thus decreasing the need to produce so many printed catalogs.

This Tuesday, we sent out an e-blast asking our customers who receive our print catalog whether they wanted to continue to receive it or if they would prefer to use the eCatalog.  Of those who have responded so far, 35% say they prefer to use the eCatalog.

I think this is a huge step in the right direction for the construction industry.  In a trade where green-thinking is encouraged at all levels, more than a third of our customers have opted to help reduce waste and use our eCatalog.

I’d like to thank everyone who received and responded to our e-blast, and I hope we can continue to make environmentally responsible progress in the years to come.

-Ryan

Posted in Marketing Wind-lock by windlock. 1 Comment

Wind-lock Supports Relay for Life…Again!

At Wind-lock, we cherish the opportunity to give back to our community and the charity organizations that mean the most to us.  It’s no surprise that Relay for Life is a big part of several of our employees’ lives outside of work, and we all try to support it in any way we can.

On May 31st, we held our annual Relay for Life car wash.  Ron, Carter, Annie, and Dennise all got down and dirty and washed over 20 cars with all proceeds going to the Relay.  Just like last year, we shot a quick video to show everybody how much fun we had.

If you’d like to donate, please click here and choose “Dragonflies”.

-Ryan

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Wind-lock is Open for Business Out West!

On April 4, 2012, Wind-lock opened the doors to its newest company run and operated distribution center in the heart of Reno, NV.  To celebrate, we invited our customers and vendors to attend an open house where they could check out the facility and learn more about Wind-lock’s plans to better serve our Western customers.  The event was a tremendous success, and everybody is incredibly excited about the newest venture in Wind-lock’s recent history.

Click here to see some pictures of the new facility.

Want to see more?  Check out the video below highlighting our new distribution center, as well as the open house event itself.

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What you need. When you need it.

Our tagline is pretty simple. It’s not much different than the message that many other companies are communicating. So why do we include it on all of our packaging, our e-mail signatures, and all of our marketing pieces?

It’s because that tagline is truly what we live by, and it shows in the service that we provide. We work very diligently to keep our warehouses stocked with the products that you need, and to get them out on time, every time. We strive to answer your questions thoroughly and completely, so there is no question that the product/service you are receiving is right for you.

“What you need. When you need it.” is more than just a tagline for us. It’s a mantra that we embrace internally so that you can experience it externally.

-Ryan

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Wind-lock’s 2011 Holiday Party

The first weekend of December is always a special time at Wind-lock.  The turkey has been eaten, the Fall weather starts turning to Winter, and our annual Holiday Party is finally here!

Every year we celebrate the holiday season with a super-fun holiday party at the office.  Some of our more festive photos can be seen below.  You can find the rest of them here.

-Ryan

Santa at Wind-lock

Santa made a special appearance at our party!

Wind-lock Family & Friends

Wind-lock Family & Friends

Wii Dancing

A competitive game of dancing on the Wii

Talking Strategy

The girls talking strategy before playing the Wii

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Happy Halloween 2011

Christmas and New Year’s are okay. July 4th and Thanksgiving are decent. But at Wind-lock, our favorite holiday is Halloween.

There’s nothing better than dressing up in the scariest costumes we can find for a fun-filled day at the office. Just like last year, we filmed a video to show our customers just how much fun we are having. This video is Ron-man and CB approved!

-Ryan

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The History of Wind-lock®

A few weeks ago, our marketing department (myself included) was working on a new print piece and wanted to add the year in which our company was established to it.  In so doing, a light went on and an idea was hatched; to utilize our blog to recount the history of Wind-lock®.  It would be fun for both customers and employees alike, to chronicle our company from start to present!

So, I decided to go straight to the source; the guy who has been with the company since 1992, had sold Wind-lock® products back when the business began, and has led our company for over a decade – Ron Chelli.

Ron educated me on how Wind-lock® has evolved over the years, from its incredibly humble beginnings, to developing into an extremely well-respected international supplier of a wide variety of building products.

Wind-Devil 2Wind-lock® was founded in 1985 as a company centered on the Wind-Devil® fastener (our flagship EIFS product to this day is the Wind-Devil® 2, a younger, refined brother of the original).  Wind-Devils® are a revolutionary alternative to adhesive for mechanically attaching EPS insulation to a variety of substrates, including wood, lite metal, steel, and masonry.  They offer tremendous positive attachment and superior negative wind-load resistance, effectively locking the insulation in place; hence “Wind-lock.”

With EIFS still relatively youthful, Wind-lock® fast became the industry’s most reliable accessory company by the late 1980s.  In addition to the popular Wind-Devils®, a growing number of labor saving tools were discovered and/or developed to help make contractors more productive and profitable on the jobsite, as well as enhancing the aesthetics and workmanship of this ever-popular wall system.

Early on, sales were primarily found in the major metropolitan areas of the US and all shipments originated from our warehouse in the Philadelphia area. By the mid 1990s, however, we were shipping orders throughout virtually all of North America and to many countries abroad – word had definitely spread about Wind-lock®!

With this success came challenges.  So in the late 1990s, management recognized the strong necessity to diversify, while maintaining Wind-lock’s® roots within the EIFS industry.  After much due-diligence, Wind-lock® embarked on a rather aggressive program to promote its value as a one-stop-shop, with a large breadth of products to the ICF (insulated concrete forms) and SIP (structural insulated panels) industries. This led to both significant growth and the birth of our next major flagship product – Foam 2 Foam®.

The diversity strategy continued in earnest.  In 2001 we purchased an apparel (and promotions) company and immediately renamed it Black Lab Apparel® (in honor of Ron’s favorite breed of dog, the loyal and faithful Labrador Retriever).  Although seemingly a far stretch from construction, the need for apparel and promotions, within the industries we served, was significant in both their respective offices and jobsites alike.

As we continued to expand our product line, we took advantage of an opportunity to exclusively distribute glass fiber reinforced gypsum (GFRG) access panels.  And, what had begun as an accessory product soon became a steadily growing line.  Named Stealth in 2005 because of its virtual invisible appearance, the product continues to garner additional market share to this day.

Insulation and energy efficiency have always been in Wind-lock’s® DNA.  So it was with this in mind that, in 2005, we committed to stock only Dow® spray foam insulation and weatherization products.  By 2008 we had become Dow’s® largest RED DIAMOND distributor.  Today, it represents approximately 30% of our annual revenue and continues to realize tremendous growth each year.

Wind-lock® was extremely busy during the mid to late 2000s.  And by significantly improving service efficiencies, we were successful in enhancing our value to our customers throughout the US and abroad.  In addition to our early expansion of warehousing in the West, satellite locations were established in Jacksonville, Florida; Peoria, Illinois and Dallas, Texas, extending our strategic warehouse locations to five.  We are now proficiently fulfilling orders from multiple locations throughout the country, and staying true to our mantra of “What you need.  When you need it.”

Drywall Tools2011 marked yet another milestone for Wind-lock®, as we leveraged our true strength, or core competency, to launch a full line of drywall tools in January.  We currently stock over 2,000 SKUs of drywall tools and accessories and have experienced the fastest rate of growth for any product line in the history of the company.

Wind-lock® has grown tremendously over the past twenty-six years.  What started as a small company offering one major product and a few hands full of tools, now offers over 4,000 SKUs, to a wide variety of customers; supporting a wide assortment of building types and industries. We yearn to always have fun and are dedicated to exceeding our customers’ expectations each and every time they need us!

Only one thing is certain here at Wind-lock®.  We will continue to evolve, search for and discover fresh opportunities and improvements to our customers’ overall experience.  And, we will always appreciate our roots and respect where we came from, but never stop trying to improve and get better at what we do.  It is within our core and it truly is who we are!

-Ryan

Social Media Etiquette

Social media is great.  I think we can all agree on that.  Currently, Wind-lock focuses on the big three, and I think we’re pretty good at it.  Almost daily I’ll come across a style of sharing that inspires me to try a new approach, like the increasingly popular #FBLT hashtag on Twitter.  Other times, I’ll see some things going on that make me scratch my head and wonder “what were they thinking?”

As there are unwritten rules with everything else in life, there are certain things that anybody actively participating in social media for business should know.  You certainly don’t have to follow these rules to a T, but you’ll probably find more success if you do.

Facebook

  • Stop hijacking pages.  There’s really no need to post on another company’s wall promoting your own products/services.  This is social media hijacking, and just makes you look foolish.  If they want to learn more about your products, they can do so on their own.
  • Posting everything you post on Twitter to Facebook is a big no-no.  Using third-party applications like TweetDeck and Hootsuite are great ways to organize your social media feeds, but very annoying to Facebook users.  Keep your Facebook updates to one or two a day.
  • Easy on the quotes.  We all like to think of ourselves as a great philosopher, but I don’t need to see your favorite Yogi Berra quotes ten times a day.  Keep it to yourself, or share via your personal profile.

Twitter

  • Avoid DM’s at all costs! There’s nothing more impersonal than a cookie-cutter auto direct message asking you to “check out our website”.  If you really want to thank somebody for following you, shoot them an @ mention and say something worthwhile.  It shows that you’re actually there.
  • Self-promotion can be self-detrimental.  Whenever I see a new follower, I’ll check out their profile.  If every single one of their posts has their website and/or phone number, there is zero chance of me following them back.  Put that information in your bio if it’s that important.
  • Relevance is key.  With over 200 million registered users, Twitter can be a bit overwhelming.  If you’re not tweeting relevant information to your followers, you can bet they won’t stick around too long.  Focus on useful content that will keep your followers interested and engaged.
  • Stop putting periods in front of your @ mentions.  I know I’ll probably get some grief about this one, but it’s one of my top pet peeves.  For those that don’t know, adding a character before an @ mention makes that tweet visible to all of your followers.  The issue with this is that 99% of the time, your tweet to so-and-so doesn’t matter to me in the least, yet you went out of your way to make sure it ended up on my timeline.  Stop it!

YouTube

  • Quality content.  Anybody with a smartphone can upload videos to YouTube.  That’s great for videos of your cat that you share with your friends, but not necessarily for business.  If you really want to get the most out of your YouTube channel, invest a couple hundred bucks into an HD camera and some editing software.  You don’t have to be the next Spielberg to make a quality video on YouTube.
  • Don’t beg for subscribers.  If you ever go to a top YouTuber’s channel, you’ll notice that nearly all of the comments are begging for a sub.  I’m not sure of the success rate of this tactic, but I would be willing to bet that it’s almost non-existent.  Just like Facebook, if somebody wants to learn more about you or your business, they will find you.  No need to comment on their channel or send them a private message.

So there you have it.  My top rules for the top three social networks.  If you follow all (or most) of them, you’ll be alright with me.  Otherwise, I’m not sure we can still be friends (okay, maybe we can).

-Ryan

Posted in Marketing Wind-lock social media by windlock. 2 Comments

New Video: “Wind-lock® Seals & Insulates a Bay Door”

Here at Wind-lock, we don’t just sell great products; we use them, too! So when our Leesport, PA warehouse required a new bay door, of course we chose to use Dow’s Froth-Pak to seal and insulate. With a two-man crew of Donny (spraying the foam) and Ryan (filming Donny), we have created the video below for your enjoyment.

As always, if you have any questions about our products, please feel free to give us a call (800-872-5625) or visit our website.

-Ryan