One of the big themes of the movie Field of Dreams was “Build it and they will come.” While that might work in a fantasy tale about a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield, that philosophy doesn't necessarily work well in business.
Take the recent case of Kipe Molds Inc., a tooling maker based in California. George Kipe, its founder and president, was a pioneer in the liquid silicone rubber industry. He was well-known in the sector, and the firm gained a lot of business via word-of-mouth referrals.
But over time, that became a less successful way of doing business. Friends retired, and engineers lost purchasing decision-making power to what Kipe Molds officials call “bean counters.” Suddenly, making a value case for high-quality tooling wasn't such an easy proposition.
Kipe Molds can cite instances where its tooling still is being used to make parts after 20 years. But when that same customer, who reported bad experiences with other vendors, wanted Kipe to build new molds for the same applications, it couldn't get its purchasing staff to approve a 30-percent premium for what could be $80,000 worth of tooling.
It didn't matter that the customer's engineering staff wanted the Kipe Molds tooling that had proven to be successful. And it didn't matter that buying the premium molds would save the customer money over time. Eventually, though, Kipe Molds found that building top-notch tooling and waiting for the customers to arrive wasn't working. A new generation was in the liquid injection molding business, and many didn't know this Southern California tooling maker. Add in a recession, and business dropped off dramatically.
Kipe Molds, though, didn't just quit. It dedicated more resources to marketing and sales, and getting the Kipe name known again in the industry. Sales started to rebound, slowly at first but more strongly the past two years, to a point where its future once again looks bright.
And its new philosophy might just be: “Build it, market it, brand it and sell it, and they will come.”