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September 26, 2002

2 Min Read
Marketing: One molder’s way to differentiate itself

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Company-sponsored events that feed and educate a clientele can pay off handsomely, as Ven-Tel Plastics has found.

Finding ways to differentiate themselves from the thousands of molders in the U.S. has become a real challenge for many custom molding firms. Yet, bottom line, differentiation is what the marketing game is all about, says Steven Meitzen, VP of sales and marketing for Ven-Tel Plastics Corp. (Largo, FL), a 20-year-old custom injection molder.

On the third Friday of each month, Ven-Tel sponsors what it calls a “Lunch & Learn” program for customers and potential customers, held at Ven-Tel’s new 105,000-sq-ft facility. The program begins at 11:30 am and goes until 1 pm, with lunch catered by a local deli. After the program, attendees are invited to take a plant tour and ask more questions.

Topics for the program are determined in large part by feedback from Ven-Tel’s sales reps as to what customers are interested in learning. “Topics have to be timely and the information has to be of value to attract people,” says Meitzen. “We focus on what will be of interest to the buyer.”

Through a website, Meitzen gathers a database of potential customers. He purchases a list of Ven-Tel’s target market, and then identifies the best potentials.

At one event, Branson Ultrasonics covered the topic of welding plastic components. At another, the subject was “How to buy tooling offshore without fear,” given by Walt McMullen of Four Corners Engineering. McMullen, formerly of Xerox Corp., has been instrumental in helping Ven-Tel launch the L&L programs.

A talk given by an official from the State of Florida addressed a group of medical manufacturing OEMs about selling medical products to Cuba. “It’s a hot political issue here in Florida,” notes Meitzen, adding that it’s legal to sell medical products to Cuba.

Ven-Tel specializes in small to medium-volume runs for medical, electrical, automotive, lawn and garden, marine, and aerospace components. It operates 39 presses, 10 to 550 tons. Three of its machines are at a local technical college being used for the plastics processing apprenticeship program.

The Lunch & Learn programs provide an opportunity for customers and potential customers to get to know Ven-Tel and its personnel, and, adds Meitzen, “Once they meet you they want to know more about you.”

The real payoff is getting new business. Meitzen says that the company has received requests for proposal from every program Ven-Tel has ever done and gained some multimillion dollar customers. “By being proactive with a program like this, whether you do it in your plant or the local Holiday Inn,” he advises, “it can separate you from the competition.”

Contact information
Ven-Tel Plastics Corp., Largo, FL
Steven Meitzen; (727) 546-7470
www.ventelplastics.com
[email protected]

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