Our company has been in business for 32 years and we sure have seen quite a few ups and downs during those years, especially in 2008 and 2009. Burdened with a $2.5 million bank loan, we had to make drastic changes or lose the business. We survived in spite of a $1O million sales drop. It took us years to recover while paying back the bank loan in small increments. Towards the end of 2019 we were finally bank debt free, but here came COVID-19.
The pandemic did not require significant internal changes since we are a sales organization using online websites to sell capital equipment in the US, Canada and abroad. Our organizational set up with satellite sales offices allowed us to continue our operation without significant interruption. We successfully applied for PPP loans, sales were coming along, and we had money in the bank. One thing we didn’t have, while we are at and beyond retirement age, were plans for succession and a company infrastructure with procedures in place that would allow others to run the company without a longer learning curve.
When I received an introductory phone call from Steve at COGENT, I listened. The timing was right and I said, “yes” to having an analyst from COGENT visit us for three days. Here came Arion Albert, Senior Analyst, in his very refreshing and “wake up to reality” approach with his incredible experience and we signed up. His analysis and assessments were confronting, but very convincing. The option to cancel the engagement at any time without any further obligation got us over the fence. I’m glad we did. After having managed EX-FACTORY for 32 years and having run two other companies, I thought I knew and had seen it all. Speaking with Arion, I realized how much we had fallen into a routine, neglecting some of the key management tools working without a proper budget and with no metrics of measure.
So, Michael Beadle became our Project Director. He himself had extensive experience in sales and was able to relate to our business within a few days. He used a gentle, “nudging us along” approach to move us through the program. I had to relearn a few tools I was
aware of from the past and now we’re using them. He didn’t try to change our business. He implemented improvements within our existing structure. He introduced new procedures, some as basic as an annual review, combined with detailed job descriptions. Working with Michael has become a real pleasure. It showed that he really cared for us and truly wants us to succeed.
Embarrassing to say, we haven’t had company wide meetings for years and since most of our 35 employees work offsite, he organized, guided us, and participated in our first two Microsoft Teams meetings. From now on, the plan is to have regular monthly meetings.
Most importantly, we have the fundamentals of a structure that future managers can easily step into while it also opens up the door for successful succession. We’re looking forward to continuing the Life Cycle Program and we gladly recommend COGENT ANALYTICS to anyone who may be in a similar situation.
Juergen Schumacher – President