At the end of the day, it’s really a crap shoot (or maybe a pheasant shoot) when you buy an existing business. There are so many questions, and not always easy answers. Having firmly decided and committed to the risk factor of acquiring the assets of Cottonwood Welding & Manufacturing in Minnesota as the starting gate for Hydroswing®, I knew I had to look at this purely through entrepreneurial eyes. Several key issues came into play that would impact my future risk:
Location. Shall I keep the shop in a small town that’s a 2 hour drive from Minneapolis? Or relocate manufacturing?
Management. Since I would not be a fully present CEO, I had to ask, shall I introduce new blood into the management system, or hire within?
Product. Shall I begin innovation and development right away, or let things roll for a bit?
Following a short negotiation and asset purchase (and much pheasant hunting, snow mobile riding and beer drinking ...... all under the banner of knowledge gathering and diligence), we dug in and began in earnest to look at the direction we needed to go.
I had the same thought all owners have, get the word out and get the sales up… IMMEDIATELY. And the task begins. I threw in everything my experience had brought me over the last 20 some years. As I was kicking off in the new age of web-based marketing, I knew the campaign would need to bring the product worldwide exposure.
In an online universe there some really important things to consider: Branding. Branding. Branding. Immediately my mind went to, well you guessed it, branding. The key to any product messaging, and my own soapbox as well, is to deliver a message that was far reaching, modern, simple and very recognizable. My goal was (and is) singular—to place Hydroswing® in the forefront of large door systems market around the globe.
Out with the old...
In with the new...
Logo and visual messaging to the Ag, Aviation and Architectural markets were the main drivers (and something we have become known for). It has always been about the clarity of message… simple, strong and secure, just like the Hydroswing® itself. So we kept it clean: Hydroswing ...Hydraulic Doors & Walls said it all! The brand took hold quickly, maybe even a bit too quickly.
The groundwork was in place. Things were solid. Questions were leading to more questions, but we knew the direction, we had had started to draw the map. We were on the road. You buy a business, you step back, take a look, and then the real work begins. To be continued...