Bestbath has developed a built-to-order Bestbuilt manufacturing process to ensure that customers’ requirements are met on every order. It begins with the client working side-by-side with sales reps on product specifications, then goes through design and production, with a series of quality assurance checkpoints along the way. Created with the customer in mind, the process helps reduce the chance of mistakes, accommodates changes during design, allows for shorter lead times and provides clients real-time information on when orders are being built and will be shipped.

Another example of Bestbath’s dedication to customers is its commitment to sharing knowledge. “We have worked hard during our 50-plus years in business to truly be experts in the shower industry,” says Multanen. “We do a lot of webinars and white papers that provide useful, important content for potential customers.”

Photo Credit: Bestbath

Webinars cover topics ranging from design trends in single family housing to building code compliance. The white papers present specific projects with architects, builders, general contractors and plumbers. For example, one white paper discusses a new trench drain gate Bestbath developed for showers in Sunrise Senior Living facilities across the U.S. based on extensive conversations with the client. “Some of the things they wanted re-tooled and some of the design elements they requested were not special to them,” says Multanen. “These are things that other people in senior housing are concerned about.” By sharing project details in the white paper, Bestbath can help others seeking similar solutions.

Naturally, the branded webinars and white papers help promote Bestbath. But it’s not solely about generating revenue. “Sharing information doesn’t always lead to closing a sale,” says Multanen. “We are a resource for people, and they may go elsewhere.” And she’s OK with that.

When Multanen and other leaders at Bestbath discuss how to stand out from competitors, it’s not all about the products they make. They reflect on what kind of organization the company wants to be. At the heart of those discussions are people – customers and employees.

“I could sit there and talk about why my shower with barrier coat is so much better than a shower that doesn’t use barrier coat,” says Multanen. “But one of the things that resonates with customers who are considering using our products is the way we truly take care of employees. We commit to regular schedules, a safe environment, and a living wage and benefits. That helps tell your story and helps customers understand why they might want to commit to a longer relationship with you.”

Composites One: Sharing Knowledge

Leon Garoufalis, president and COO of Composites One LLC, says it may sound cliché, but without the customer there is no company. “As a distributor, we don’t manufacture any products. It’s not like we can bring our own products to market with our own developed innovations,” he says. “For us, it’s all about serving the customers and creating value in different ways.”

One of the ways that Composites One serves its clients is by providing training in processes, products and applications. The company works with partner suppliers, as well as organizations such as ACMA and IACMI – The Composites Institute, to host workshops and teach the principles of closed molding. It also presents webinars. In 2020, webinar topics included tooling, vacuum infusion processing for aerospace and wind energy applications.

In 2008, Composites One formed the Closed Mold Alliance to provide training and resources related to complete closed mold solutions. Working alongside alliance partners Magnum Venus Products and RTM North Technologies, the company hosts hands-on demonstrations of vacuum infusion, light resin transfer molding and other advanced processes. During CAMX 2020, the Closed Mold Alliance held seven virtual demonstrations under the tagline “Knowledge is Power.”

Composites One also collaborates one-on-one with clients. “We work with customers and, in many cases, conduct turnkey conversions from open molding to closed molding environments to greatly improve product quality and manufacturing efficiencies,” says Garoufalis. The company helps customers assess their products, select the right closed mold process for those products, manufacture molds and train employees. It also offers technical assistance for initial trials of new manufacturing methods.

Providing ongoing technical support is paramount to Composites One. Most of its salespeople have years of experience in the composites industry, many on the manufacturing side. “They are not just out there to sell products,” says Garoufalis. “They are there to solve customers’ problems and help them work through issues to become more efficient and effective.”

Of course, the company hopes that serving as a resource for customers will spur them to do business with Composites One rather than its competitors. “If we’re doing the right things for the right reasons for our customers, over time we will benefit as well,” says Garoufalis.

Recognizing that “Knowledge is Power,” Composites One is also committed to helping educate the next generation of composites employees. For example, it sponsors the composite materials technology program at Davis Technical College in Utah. The 900-hour program – designed for industry, by industry – introduces students to basic composite materials, techniques and procedures, then progresses through advanced composite skills. The college boasts a 94% placement rate for students in the composite materials program, who graduate with both a local industry-driven certificate and ACMA’s Certified Composites Technician (CCT) designation.

“We are helping train people so they can go to work for our customers,” says Garoufalis. Assisting customers with their workforce needs is critical in an industry that faces challenges in finding, training, growing and retaining employees. Composites One is currently working with IACMI and Davis Technical College to replicate the program in other composite hubs around the country.

While Garoufalis and his leadership team at Composites One fully support a customer-centric business model, that’s not enough. For customers to genuinely be the focal point of a company, you need employee buy-in, says Garoufalis. “If employees don’t understand how critically important it is to serve customers, then it doesn’t matter how much we speak about it,” he says. “Team members have to internalize the concept of serving customers.”

When everyone in a company puts the customer first, then good things happen. “In our organization, it’s all about serving the customer and creating value,” says Garoufalis. “If our customers are successful, then we are successful.” And if composites companies are successful, then the entire industry will thrive, too.