Rolling tape since 1987
With headquarters in Fairless Hills, TaraTape is a small manufacturing business that develops, produces, and sells Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) tapes used for industrial packaging. Since 1987 the company has marketed its products commercially through a national network of industrial distributors and is viewed as a high-quality global supplier with the ability to produce custom-designed products for specific and often demanding industry applications.
Transitions are often lonely affairs
In 2013, with a long legacy of quality products and solid market position, Tara Tape found itself facing several significant changes. Tom Dodd, President & CEO and long-time majority owner was getting set to retire and on the heels of his exit led the company in instituting an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), setting the stage for a new President and Chief Executive Officer.
John Liberatore, a long-time TaraTape executive with deep market and operational experience, was a natural fit to lead the organization. As he took on the role of lead change agent, however, Liberatore wanted to better understand the real market opportunities and conditions facing the business.
Liberatore knew it would be helpful to bring in some outside talent for support, so he called DVIRC. It seemed that there were a lot of potential starting points, but joining the DVIRC Sales & Marketing Network Group seemed to make sense as an initial step.
Network Groups Work
As a charter member of DVIRC’s growing Sales & Marketing Group, John had a chance to meet twice each quarter with 12-15 business owners and sales executives. Collectively, they discussed and shared knowledge about best practices and worked together to understand which techniques work—and which ones should be avoided.
“For me, signing up for the Sales and Marketing Group was an investment in benchmarking and networking with other local manufacturers,” Liberatore says. “Through the group I got to know DVIRC’s Sales and Marketing Program Director, Chris Scafario, and I picked up some of his ideas for stimulating our market growth.”
Voice of the Customer—A Good One to Listen To!
Applying a “walk-then-run” approach, participating in the Sales & Marketing Group, and getting to know DVIRC and its capabilities ultimately made Liberatore comfortable enough to engage DVIRC for a Voice of Customer research project to survey his current, former, and prospective customers.
“We had been struggling to grow sales revenue for about two years. Sales had flattened around $20 million, and we were looking for growth amid a host of organizational changes,” Liberatore says. “I was looking to improve my understanding from a leadership perspective, and the ESOP brought some new energy to the organization, so I wanted to see what opportunities were out there. The Voice of Customer project hit home with our Sales Team led by Carl Hamaj.”
As the primary market research project began, DVIRC designed a Voice of Customer survey to help TaraTape identify organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. DVIRC conducted its market research using telephone-based interviews and uncovered ways for TaraTape to penetrate existing markets more deeply in order to grow sales.
“We needed to understand what our customers think about us and then use that knowledge to pursue leads,” Hamaj says. “Chris Scafario and Sylvia Wower, DVIRC’s Director of Market Research, worked together on the project and did a very good job keeping us informed along the way. They engaged our entire team in the process.
“Our relationship is working out very well,” Liberatore adds. “We learned a lot about who our customers are and what our internal strengths are. The survey results were a little different than we expected—we had some that were very good, and one that really smacked us in the mouth. That individual’s response, though, enabled us to go back to the customer and reopen dialogue on their terms.”
“We’ve already been asked to quote on some business that I think we would not have had without this process,” he said. “We were able to look at why and how we misjudged ourselves so badly as far as this particular customer was concerned.”
Within just a few weeks of the project close, TaraTape secured over $100,000 in new annual sales and the potential for additional sales that will likely become recurring business.
“We received our first order about 30 days after the survey wrapped up. The survey gave us an easy way to open the discussion from the customers’ perspective rather than ours,” Hamaj says. “Maybe we would have gotten that business [without the survey], maybe not, but I do know that when we met with them, we had a real understanding of what their expectations were, and we closed very quickly. We are very pleased with DVIRC’s deliverables and with the results we are starting to see on the sales side.”