With the downturn in the automotive industry, Columbia Tool & Die’s customer base was shrinking rapidly. The company was close to laying off several employees and faced serious problems. Simply put, it had to diversify its business to survive. To right the ship, Columbia Tool & Die sought out the support of the state’s preeminent group of turnaround specialists, the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP). Together, Columbia Tool and Die and SCMEP engineered a remarkable comeback.
SCMEP, a private, not-for-profit group that supplies state businesses with innovative strategies to facilitate productivity, helped Columbia Tool and Die grow its customer base, develop new industries, and achieve AS9100 and ISO 9001 certifications. Most importantly, monthly sales rocketed from $30,000 to $100,000 and Columbia Tool and Die was able to save jobs. “SCMEP introduced us to great resources and has helped us grow our business significantly,” says Jake Brackett, General Manager.
Columbia Tool & Die is a premium tool and die shop that uses the latest technology and CNC equipment to quickly perform general engineering, fabrication, supply and repair tasks. Starting with the engineering process, Columbia Tool & Die uses innovative CAD/CAM software to produce precise drawings and specifications for highly technical projects. The company prides itself on swift customer service, providing high-quality parts for its customers at a good price. Columbia Tool and Die’s extensive familiarity with injection modeling, die casting, metal stamping, and other tooling applications ensures fewer maintenance requirements, minimal set up and start times, and fewer trials during production. Still, the company was losing ground because of the economic recession. Its technology and expert workforce could not survive without new customers in new industries.
SCMEP initially conducted a free-of-charge competitiveness review and found that the company’s greatest challenge was overcoming its small customer base. SCMEP provided a thorough recommendation of how it could diversify its business model. First, Columbia Tool & Die underwent AS9100 and ISO 9001 certification, a pair of quality management systems that helped confirm the company’scommitment to industry excellence. AS9100 is a structure pertaining to the aerospace industry, while ISO 9001 remains one of the most widely used and respected management tools in the world today. A large portion of the project’s funding was provided by the Midlands Workforce Development Board and Incumbent Workers Training (IWT) program.
Next, SCMEP helped to recruit, hire, and train a new sales manager, acquired leads and set-up a lead and customer relationship management (CRM) software. To further optimize its business performance, SCMEP set about creating new marketing messages and promotion for Columbia Tool & Die
through a website overhaul and high-definition video production. SCMEP also performed industry research to identify and pursue new target customers and provided new, crafted presentations for target customers. Website traffic quickly climbed through search marketing campaigns, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising, and social media.
“SCMEP and the Midlands Workforce Development Board have been a huge help to Columbia Tool and Die allowing us to expand our business rather than go down the path that so many unfortunate companies have faced in today’s tough economic environment. From the beginning, SCMEP has been a great partner and we look forward to their continued help growing our business” says Jake Brackett.