Five keys to capturing (and keeping) new business

We keep hearing from the automotive industry that there is a shortage of moldmakers. Yet, moldmakers keep wondering where all the business is? Surely, if there's a shortage of moldmakers, there must be more business out there.

Darcy King, president and CEO of Unique Tool & Gauge , along with his director of sales and program management, Al Standaert and Joe Luckino, director of new business development, sat down for a conversation about finding and capturing new business. There are five keys to finding and capturing new business that King has found works for Unique, a mold manufacturing company that specializes in large-sized aluminum molds for the automotive industry.

1.     Don't be afraid to expand your operations to meet capacity and technical requirements. King notes that every company with which he deals contacts him with the same concern: "How much capacity can we handle?" That's a tough question to answer because there are a lot of variables, including how much of the mold work stays here  and how much will be off-shored. "In spite of the reshoring talk, there's still a lot of work going overseas," King said. "We have a really good niche, we work with both Tier 1s and OEMs, and we still see a lot of work going to Asia. That's a variable that we don't know - how much will go to Asia."

In spite of that uncertainty, King noted that moldmakers have really improved their capacity over the past few years. "We can certainly do more work than in 2009," he stated. "We've expanded our facilities, and our competitors have as well. The key to being able to grab the work is to transform your operations into world-class facility. Have good equipment and a good team focused on taking care of customers."

2.     Have a good marketing plan and get the word out that your company is the best provider of the services your customers and potential customers need, and really push to get that out there. "That's part of the differentiation - keeping your customer base as large as you can so you can invest in technology and stay busy. The days of sending your brochure out and hoping someone will call or come knocking on your door are over. It isn't going to happen," Luckino said. "And winning the work is more than just about the cheapest price. Today, jobs are awarded from a group sourcing board that take into consideration service, equipment capability, tooling engineering and program management, tooling cost, and the overall confidence that our customers have in us to get the job done on time."

3.     Agility is key; being able to move faster in every phase of the program, noted Standaert. "A customer will send us something to look at and quote, and we have to get the quote out accurately and very quickly. We have to adjust our schedule to their schedule and be able to turn the mold build around quickly," Standaert emphasized. "We try to limit the mold trails to one or two before the mold goes out the door and ensure the

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