PODCASTS

High Quality Innovation That Defined a Marketplace

High Quality Innovation That Defined a Marketplace

 

We would like to thank Matt Thomas in joining our Podcast at Concora the other day. Matt explains the creative ways NanaWall has helped restaurants and other businesses stay in business (and thrive) during COVID with their innovative opening glass wall systems.

 

 


 

 

Podcast Participants:

Graham: Product Director Concora
Kip Rapp: CEO Concora
Matt Thomas: Marketing director at NanaWall

 

Graham:

Hello, everyone and welcome to The Concora Corner, a podcast dedicated to bringing you interviews of folks working in the AC and BPM industry. I’m one of your hosts, Graham Waldrop, and director of product here at Concora. Today on the show we’re talking with Matt Thomas who is the marketing director at NanaWall. Matt explains to us how NanaWall is a true innovator in the industry and how they created the market for open glass walls and how this innovation and further iteration of this market helped many restaurants stay open and thrive during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matt also goes into detail about how the marketing of his company is ever growing, from creating technical specifications, to written materials, videos and more in order to give architects as much information as possible to ensure NanaWall continues to be a force in the marketplace. We hope you enjoy today’s interview with Matt. But before we begin, here’s a quick word from our CEO, Kip Rapp.


Kip:

Wanted to thank everyone again for listening to our podcast. And if you’re interested in knowing more about Concora, we help building product manufacturers get specified and purchase more by providing a great lab experience that’s bolted onto your website, makes it easy for your architects, engineers and contractors to do business online with you. We sum it up as three things. It’s providing a good web experience, good content and good tools. And we have some great tools such as metals, sustainability, project showcases, or anything else needed by our design community to specify and purchase products. We’d be more than happy to show you a quick demo, and you can go to Concora .com, clncora.com to learn more. Read case studies and see how other customers have grown sales with our partnership.


Kip:

Hey, Matt, thanks again for joining our podcast. And definitely from our, I know we had a prep call, I was looking forward to that.

And I just, I get so humbled with these Matt, because most people I talk to, I just don’t know what products they sell. It’s like, all these new things that people are making lives easier for both from a consumer side and a commercial side. So definitely excited to talk about what you guys do at NanaWall. How you’re making people’s lives better. Definitely, yeah, as we all kind of getting to the end of COVID, hopefully, of how we’re supporting this small businesses. That was a fascinating story, because it’s just such a tragic time for a lot of small businesses out there today. But how we start, Matt, is you can just introduce yourself, what you do, what your company does and what makes you different.


Matt Thomas:

All right. Well, thanks for having me on the show Kip, nice to be here. And I’m with NanaWall systems, and NanaWall is the originator. We’re the company that created the market for the opening glass wall, it started with the bi-fold door that everybody may know, because there are so many out in the market now, where the panels are hinged and connected together and open up. And so we’ve been doing that for over 30 years. And so, we target both residential and the commercial space. And in the commercial space, as you and I were having the conversations, we focus on a variety of different markets within that space. And so, we can talk about each one, one by one or however you want to lead.


Kip:

No, that’s great. Now, I know with NanaWall, it’s a family owned business, right?


Matt Thomas:

It is.


Kip:

Yeah.


Matt Thomas:

It’s run by four brothers that founded the company back in the late 1980s.


Kip:

Yeah, and I always get fascinated with that. When we talk to other companies where its fourth generation, and there’s always these kind of nuances with working in the family business, and can you share any insights to that as far as why you started this journey, and then working inside the family business and what you like about that?


Matt Thomas:

I’d always known about the company because I’m an architecture buff, I grew up in an architecturally relevant home, a case study home down in LA. And so I’ve always had an affinity towards it. So therefore I’ve known of the company and what they do, because I’ve always loved the product. And over 10 years ago I landed here and haven’t moved since because what we do is interesting on an everyday basis.

And we’re, as you noted, we’re a family run company, and that gives us some advantages. We’re very dynamic. We keep our nose to the ground, and we can change and adjust on a fly. And also ideas are very encouraged. We are constantly innovating both from a sales and a marketing standpoint, and what we do in the market in addition to our product lines are always constantly expanding.


Kip:

Got you. And you’re the marketing leader.


Matt Thomas:

Correct.


Kip:

Okay. Yeah, can you walk us through a little bit about how you do marketing in NanaWall and, from a go to market, digital? I know digital marketing is very big nowadays with COVID. So what is, I guess, some of the best practices and things that you do with marketing your product?


Matt Thomas:

Well, in our industry, the architectural construction industry, it’s a mix of two things. It is, and we do a lot of digital marketing. In fact, we’re the probably within the industry, the leader in digital marketing, we have for over 10 years. And we use a lot of innovative tools, and as I noted before, we’re constantly adapting and adjusting in a dynamic way.

But we also do traditional marketing, because again, we’re reaching different types of professionals within the market. There is the early career professionals that are going to be more adjusted, well suited to the digital side of things, there’s mid-career, that naturally would be the middle, a little balanced between knowing digital and also traditional means. And then there’s your late career that really follow the more traditional path.

And the breakdown there is a balance between digital, which is email marketing, which is digital advertising, and other forms of outreach on digital platforms. But on the traditional side, we still do a lot of print advertising and trade show attending, although we haven’t all done a lot of that in the past year. So there it’s the more traditional face to face, I guess you could say old school, because that’s how our industry currently operates. It has a wide mix of people we need to reach from being an architect, a contractor, business owner, et cetera.


Kip:

Yeah, and I do want to spend a little more time there because it’s always a topic of a lot of our listeners are interested in working with architects and getting specified early. And so in your case, it’s really cool where you segment adapt from early, mid to late in that case. I mean, is the architect a main constituent for what you do on the commercial side, or is there others?


Matt Thomas:

The architect is the main stakeholder, who we target. And so we were set up as a B2B company, although we are not going to turn you away if you show up at our doorstep, which happens every now and then. But mostly, we’re a B2B company, and we target the professional, the specifier, the B2B professional that is designing that project, working on that project and engineer working on that product, project, excuse me, that’s our target.

So yes, we’re set up specifically to break down and communicate to each one of those stakeholders. And then also within that, here’s where it gets complicated, is that like I noted before, there’s in say the architect stakeholder, there’s the three different, at least the simplified way of looking at it, of who we’re targeting and who’s most familiar, who sits behind a screen and gets content from a phone versus the traditional means. And believe me, it exists. Never try to run a tweet contest at the International Builders Show. Builders these days are very versed in this but they just don’t have patience for it, they want to get straight to the point. So I learned my lesson the hard way.


Kip:

And that, with the early mid delay, are you finding a propensity that as the earlier career folks and the college graduates, my conversations with people are they are, there is a cultural difference, they are more digital. And do you see that as being kind of more the trend in the pie, the share of the pie as your architecture constituents?


Matt Thomas:

It’s definitely moving that direction, particularly an architect is technically versed to start with. So sitting behind a screen or multiple screens is a comfort zone. So reaching them in that same medium makes a lot of sense. Particularly younger architects, maybe they’re right out of school or they’ve had a number of years under their belt, they want to be reached digitally. And it makes the most sense because it’s quick, it’s direct to them, not going through the mail system, say in a Gensler, where they have these big offices and try to reach them through a postcard or an ad. That’s by chance. So at least we know who they are now, when reaching to them digitally, and we can provide them with information quickly and effectively based on what their requirement is.


Kip:

Yeah, and again on that side, and I know there’s probably a lot of things you have to do from a digital side when we’re talking about an architect that’s either younger or more digitally minded, but is there like an ideal kind of way that you can try to get … one is how you communicate, and then the other is what I think we can communicate, but at least on how you communicate, are you finding that it’s more of catching them on their own time? Is it more through the different mediums that they may be consuming content, either Twitter, or maybe they’re probably doing social media? Could be an email or could be, maybe it is digital print, so is there anything from there that’s been effective?


Matt Thomas:

Well, yes, I mean, all the above, as you noted. I mean, we have a big social program on all the different platforms, but we also notice that different entities tend to gravitate to different platforms. Architects, like LinkedIn, architects, like twitter, contractors, like Facebook more. Architects and homeowners like Pinterest. So we’ve noticed those stat demographics over the past number of years, and so we adjust accordingly, and send relevant content to those platforms based on who we believe is consuming the content on those platforms.

Now, more importantly, is making sure that the right content gets to the recipients. So by having a strong digital content marketing platform, is and has been of utmost important to us over the past seven to 10 years, because it’s just like you and I going to a trade show and meeting each other there. We have a informal conversation, we just get to know each other. I start to find out what your interests are, and then I start providing you with the information based on your interest. You can do the same thing digitally. It’s just a conversation, but you get more straight to the point and then you’re providing the right content to what that customer needs.


Kip:

It makes sense. And in that scenario, as we talked about how you communicate and when maybe, and so can you maybe touch a little more on what you’re communicating.

Because I was talking to other folks, Matt, and there was like a common denominator around education, interest, problem solving, differentiation, as things that you communicate, so I wanted to get your point of view on what’s effective as far as what you can communicate.


Matt Thomas:

Well, these days there’s never enough content digitally. The demand is outstripping the supply because of the pace, the speed, the cadence in which that content is being delivered, and the requirement from that stakeholder, that customer. So what we provide is, across the board, from an architect’s interested in technical specifications, CAD, Revit, BIM, you name it, we provide that general information on all our product lines.

How our products are used, we have different types of content, from written to video, to over 5000 images to allow that architect, for instance, or builder to visualize what their project could potentially look like. Animation, presentations, I literally go on, but basically, it covers all traditional platforms, and then, inventing new ideas too, of how to reach those customers. And again, the important thing for us is providing the information that they need, being a knowledge base.


Kip:

And everything that you said makes a lot of sense. Is there something that is not as appropriate to communicate? Or is it … Like in my world, if you talk more features than benefits, it’s not as appropriate, because no one understands what your features are. But is there any similarities with the architects?


Matt Thomas:

Oh, sure. You want to get straight to the point, they’re busy people.


Kip:

Yeah.


Matt Thomas:

And you don’t want to spend too much time talking about yourself and your product features or the reasoning why your product is so great. They’ll determine if it’s great. I mean, we provide things like for instance with us, what differentiates us is we independently test all our product and that’s very important because there was an old saying back in the 1980s, you don’t get fired for buying IBM.

Well, we like to feel the same way about NanaWall, the architect doesn’t get in trouble by incorporating NanaWall in their designs because we are battle tested, but we also have, focus squarely on providing all that necessary backup that an architect needs to feel comfortable using our product.

So that’s our, again, our focus lies is. Meeting them to what their requirements are versus us just talking about ourselves. Hey, tell us about your project, let’s work on it together. And we even have an in house staff architect to work with you and a development team that knows the product, but also understands projects.


Kip:

Awesome. Yeah. And I know, I wanted to get more into how people use your product, especially in supporting COVID. But then from COVID itself, was there any material differences that you had to change? I know when … it kind of almost started like a year ago from now, like-


Matt Thomas:

One month ago, today.


Kip:

Yeah. So was there, and I know it was scary, right? Not talking to other leaders, the unknown is scary and what will happen. But for you and then learning, what were the things that worked out well from a marketing side that you had to adjust? Because obviously, the trade shows and some of the other more analog ways weren’t available, right?


Matt Thomas:

That’s right. Well, a lot of my contacts who are traditional advertising sales people weren’t too pleased, because I renegotiated a number of contracts. Because magazines, if you think about it, magazines weren’t landing in the hands of the people that needed them, that we intended them to land in. If that makes sense. For instance, they’re just not getting to the end user. They were sitting on desks, like you go into my desk in the office and there was an 18 inch stack of magazines. Am I going to flip through and read all of those? Not till this is over. I do some, but I had to also put myself in the seat of an architect, with how busy they are adjusting to this new reality, and changing design based on the new reality.

Are they going to be sitting back with their feet up on the desk looking through magazines and looking at advertisements? Odds are against that, because they’re too busy. So we knew right up front, because we do communicate with many, many architects if they are very busy making adaptation to this new reality. And so we ourselves adapted and pushed more digital, because we knew that was the sole way to reach them, other than literally picking up the phone and calling them.

So that was one of the key changes, was that the traditional methods, as I noted in the beginning of this conversation, went on a temporary hiatus, and so we just moved the shells around.


Kip:

Yeah. And do you think after COVID, I’m getting this from other folks, is there is a transformation and some of that sticks, where it becomes that much more of a digital experience now. Are you thinking the same way after COVID?

 

Matt Thomas:

Well, there’s a downside to that, too. If you took a big high level viewpoint of what happened in the past year, since we’re exactly one year in now, clearly, other people got the same idea in knowing that digital is a way to reach people, because it’s almost the only way to reach people in the past year. So the challenge was competing with all that additional noise that was thrust into the market. Many of these publications that I know, they went to a temporary all digital format, they also increased their output of email and so did everybody else.

Our competitors, other indirect competitors, or co-companies in the same industry, everybody opened the spigot of digital. And so all of a sudden, your inbox is just full of content. So how do you reach all those people? You’ve got to have better content, because it’s become a big stew that companies or the individuals in these companies have to sift through.


Kip:

Got you. And there was another person I was talking to Matt, that they were working with architects and the commercial side has taken a hit. And some of these firms were supplementing with residential and I think with your product, you’re both residential, commercial, so did you see any of that with trying to support the architects in your community?


Matt Thomas:

We did see a big shift in some projects, in some architects work, specifically say in interiors while they were working to figure out what the next generation, the post-COVID interior environment was going to be. They needed to keep work going, so many of them moved into the residential environment. Whereas residential went through the roof, because everyone’s at home, everybody knows that they’re stuck at home and now’s a good time to work on that home.

So that’s really what happened. And I think anyone could get their own measurement by just walking, you’re going over to a Home Depot. You’re fighting through the aisles, there’s so many people in there because everyone is working on their home. I know I did, many of my friends did. It just was the right, a good time to do it. I don’t know about the right time, but a good time to do it.

 

Kip:

Yeah, I guess I’m not that type of personality going like, oh, I didn’t have any urge to fix my , but the evidence is out there. Right?


Matt Thomas:

Yeah.


Kip:

I mean, everyone’s … It’s interesting, and I appreciate that. And when we talked earlier, Matt, you had some really good examples on the commercial side, and how you’re able to support the businesses out there. And I do kind of get sad, when you think of all the small businesses out there. It’s tough to stay in business from restaurants, the normal places you would go, stores, retail stores that are out there.

And so you had some great examples of how your product specifically addressed some of these problems. Even maybe some of these restaurants didn’t even know how to solve themselves, and I think that’s very notable. So I’d love to hear you walk through some of those stories that we were talking about earlier?


Matt Thomas:

Well, straight off the bat, we know that a lot of environments got hit hard and let’s start at restaurants. When the shutdown happened, and everybody stayed at home, and they either ordered their food in or they just went down to the market and cooked at home, great for Weber grills and all those companies that make things for the home. But the poor restaurants, as somebody who loves to go to restaurants, and a lot of my colleagues are big on going out to restaurants, it was hard, not only for the customer, but more importantly for the people who rely on that industry, the wait staff, the chefs, the cooks, the owners, the general managers, everyone.

So what we noticed is the restaurants who had our product had a distinct advantage going into COVID. To give you an idea, there’s a restaurant out in Detroit, and it uses our product in a very unique geometrical shape where three of the walls are open, all on offset walls, and it’s a very interesting building, it’s called Lumen Detroit. And what the general manager told us at Lumen Detroit was that they were able to keep their restaurant open, conforming, of course, to the rules and rags, but because three of the walls out of four opened, they were classified differently. And they fell under different rules and regulations in your traditional closed in restaurants.

So they were able to stay open. They were able to keep customers safe and comfortable because that’s where we come in, we’re the customer, and we want to be safe and comfortable in an environment. So by having a lot of fresh air ventilation, natural day lighting, that created a healthier environment. And so Lumen kept our panels open all the time. Even inside under the covered roof, because three quarters of that building were open, it was like an outdoor tent. And the breeze rolled right through in one side and out the other. Customers enjoyed themselves, wait staff stayed employed, general manager stayed busy, chefs cooked, everybody is doing what they do.

And the restaurant was making enough money to stay in business. And that’s the important thing. And that was really an indicator to us that, hey, we’ve got something here. What we do and the versatility of our product, has allowed many of these restaurants to stay open, stay in business, keep people employed.


Kip:

Now, that’s great. And was that something that like some restaurant called you or someone in NanaWall said, hey, we have these restaurants, they’re struggling and we believe we may be able to have … Or it may be an existing setup you already have with other restaurants, but how did that kind of come to fruition?


Matt Thomas:

Well, we already had restaurant messaging, it’s a core area that we focus on and our product has always been one of the … Let me rephrase that. We’ve always focused commercially. Our product is durable, it’s tough. It can withstand the commercial environment, particularly a restaurant and so we’ve always known that we are perfectly matched for restaurants with what we do and what we make. And so we just took a long, hard look at it, and we started noticing restaurants in our area here. Right down the street from me, there’s a restaurant that uses our product. And I noticed they had those panels open the beginning of COVID all the time. And they were seating people out in these makeshift patio, the patio, but then they extended that patio further into the one way drive for the parking lot and they just took it over.

They got approval from the city, and so they were sitting people outside and the customers and the waitstaff are going in and out of the building through our product. And the proverbial little light bulb went off in my head and went, wow, we’ve got something here. You’ve got these panels that can withstand being opened and closed multiple times a day, but they’re also by being what they do, providing a service for that organization, that restaurant. And that’s where it started, we started making phone calls and talking to general managers, and started getting stories. And each and every restaurant had a different story about how they were able to adapt better, how they were able to seat more customers, and how they are able to conform to the local rules and regs better than their competitors who don’t have a product like ours.


Kip:

And that’s great. Is that something where if someone wants to use the product in that situation, does it take a few weeks a month? Or what is the general the timeframe for them to be able to use your product?


Matt Thomas:

Well, we have our lead times to build product, but there’s a whole construction process behind that. And that’s not what we do, we just provide the product. But that’s where the architect has to come in, the structural engineer has to come in, it does take some effort.

But what we did notice is restaurants early on recognized this, spoke to their local ordinance rules and regs, people whoever they may be, and before even new rules and regs were implemented, they were able to get concessions or a general direction of what is the best scenario for them to do that.

And so by mid-summer, we noticed that a lot of plans were showing openings in restaurants that were solid walls before. New Jersey, I believe, off the top my head, passed a, either a law or regulation. I think it was just a local ordinance that you had to have a wall open to again, allow for that airflow. Now, for us, in an area like New Jersey where it gets cold in the winter, we’re very comfortable in that, because when you close our product up, it keeps those elements on the outside. But think about this, in order to flush the restaurants air, you want to be able to open that wall many times a day, quickly, open it up for a minute without the inside getting too cold, and the customers getting too uncomfortable. But enough to flush the air and then quickly close it again.

That’s the other attribute that we noticed about what we do, it really came shining through because you have to be able to operate that product many times a day, and for it to be easy and quick in order to flush out these restaurants, when the weather is too cold to leave them open 100% of the time.


Kip:

And we’re these guidelines more towards COVID or just normal guidelines that were in place?


Matt Thomas:

What we’re learning is that it’s different everywhere, it’s going to be different in Los Angeles, than it’s going to be in Chicago. So we work with our local representatives, who are architectural representatives, people who are very versed in understanding the whole process, and then working with that customer to make the right fit and understand the right product that we utilize in that scenario. So, that the local, we’re very involved in the local level through our representatives, and that information comes back into us, and so its teamwork at three different levels for us. Internally, our representative and then of course the customer.


Kip:

Yeah, so from a timeline perspective, when COVID hit and certainly hit majority of the businesses probably right around now too, I would imagine or maybe a month later. And then your kind of innovation to the problem with the exposure and your systems, did it take what you would say six months or five, is that then the lead time for like a restaurant owner to yeah, after all kind of the architect and maybe the permits and regulations to get approved?


Matt Thomas:

Yeah, roughly. But again, I wouldn’t want to vouch for any timelines, because they’re going to be different everywhere.

Kip:

Yeah.


Matt Thomas:

And I’m sitting out here in California in the local area in which I live, are going to be different than like I said, different various places across the country. But we did notice fast tracking, because everyone, in the beginning of this they used, you saw the public service messages saying, we’re all in this together. I think what happened is that yeah, you had your local counties and cities, they all realized, hey, we got to keep these businesses going, we’ve got to keep them afloat, and the way to do that is by helping them and going above and beyond and cutting through the red tape.

And so we saw a lot of that, at the different levels. Just like I said, I saw down here, they closed off streets downtown and no one complained. And they just allowed the restaurants to push out into the streets so that they could serve people and have, again, for them stay in business and for the customer to have some assemblance of a normal life.


Kip:

Yeah, that’s great. And so restaurants, definitely, that sounds like one of the key areas that you’re able to help and support. Was there other industries like hotels or retail or other types of businesses?


Matt Thomas:

Retail, let’s start at retail real quickly. Poor retailers. It’s great ordering things online, I got to say, I do it, almost everyone I know, either orders through Amazon or other services. But there’s nothing like going local and then supporting the local community. And I think that has really shone through in the past year. And as we were talking earlier in the call, few weeks ago, I was in Los Angeles, and I was in Santa Monica. And in Santa Monica, there is 3rd Street Promenade. And that’s one of the early, it’s around 30 years old now. One of the early great examples of how an outdoor retail, restaurant, entertainment, congregating environment should work.

I mean, it’s obviously Los Angeles, beautiful weather, day and night. But all those retailers that line at each side of the Promenade, they had plenty of business until right up to COVID. COVID hit, and people are scarce to find. And what I noticed is that a lot of these businesses are, have gone out of business or just pulled out of that environment, because they just needed to recoil. But what we noticed is that in the place of a lot of the retailers that have our product, they’re utilizing it and opening that up, and customers are gravitating inward to these environments.

To give an example, there’s Pollstar, which is the Swedish electric car manufacturer, they moved into where we used to have the space in which was. It uses one of our folding glass walls, and the entire opening opens up, it’s about 20 feet wide. And I watched for 10, 15 minutes, customers gravitate in and out easily and comfortably, and stayed in the environment because they have that great big opening.

The Pollstar employees told me it’s great, they just quickly close it a little if they need to, if the weather changes, or if the wind picks up, and then they can easily push it back open.

So that’s an example of it being used and then T-Mobile, who uses one of our products in another 26 foot opening. They went very innovative with our product, the entire thing opens up and disappears. But again, when that weather changes, or they just don’t want the entire thing open, the way that they design their the system with us is that you had swing door, panel swing door and one was in and one was out. So there’s a good three to six feet of separation between the in and the out. So customers again felt comfortable going in, and that door was open, and then they had the out. And so you’re not fighting with somebody to get in and out.

The last thing I’ll say is, for those of us who have iPhones and you go into the Apple store, have you ever gone to an Apple store and then it’s so busy, that you’re opening the door, that one door and somebody else is coming out and you clip shoulders or you run face-to-face in front of somebody because you’re going through this little narrow opening. That’s counter to what we believe. We believe, open it up, make it easy and comfortable for the customer to come in and out. Make it easy for the customer to feel comfortable, and make it easy for the employee to operate that door system without having to even think about it. And that’s what our focus has been always, and it’s really become very noticeable through the pandemic.


Kip:

I really liked that. And I appreciate that because, one of the things I think about when I go into like a Walmart, or somewhere, it’s like, you’re in like this big cave and then there’s all these fluorescent lights and walls are everywhere, and your kind of claustrophobic. And I can really see the T-Mobile example, and the Pollstar example, where it’s an elegant type of experience, it’s transparent. So that kind of high quality type of feel when you think of glass and transparency, and it’s open.

So I do think there’s a lot of just general for me, psychological benefits that I like about that environment. And it’s not like direct, because you keep that open and you just have, oh, I can go in at any time. I don’t have this physical barrier. Plus the COVID that you talked about where you’re just kind of like elbow to elbow, in those types of environments. But in your kind of scenario, though is it … also, were there regulations on the retail side that said, hey, you had to have this amount of space or opening that made your product more attractive versus kind of the more of the aesthetic, and the things that we’re just talking about?


Matt Thomas:

Not in the past, but we anticipate that to change. In other words, just to lead on to what you said, we’re anticipating that local rules and regulations will stipulate openings for retail environments to change, to be bigger, to be more open, to allow for greater fresh air ventilation. And then that puts the pressure on the manufacturers like us to produce a product that can meet those requirements. Because again, like I said earlier, everyone is the same when it’s open, every opening is the same, it’s operating even when it’s closed. And it’s got to be easy for the employee to operate, and it also has to be durable for it to withstand the daily commercial grind.

And that’s how we cut our teeth as a company, is we cut our teeth in these difficult to operate within commercial environments like retail, call it hospitality. Retail, restaurants and hotels, they have to respond to what the employees of the management of that environment wants. And again, that’s one of our core focuses is, and why we took such interest in this particular segment at the beginning of COVID.


Kip:

Got you. And I know we have a few more minutes left, but I did want to touch on more of the residential side. I know you had a few examples there. Are they the same examples? Because I know with some products we were talking about, one gentleman had a product that really changed how people can live at home in the time to COVID. So was there any similar type of experiences with your product?

 

Matt Thomas:

Well yeah. Again, when you’re in your home, when it’s open, you open up that product, it’s great and the weather is nice, but when the weather isn’t, you want to know that, when that is closed, that it’s going to keep those elements on the outside. That’s what we notice that customers really focus on. They think all this glass means that I’m going to be cold, or I’m going to be insecure. Insecure meaning, security, like is this a threat to have all this glass? It’s actually quite the opposite.

One day the president of the company was at his desk and he received a phone call from a fire chief, who a week earlier had responded with his team to a house on fire that had one of our products in it. And that fire chief told the CEO, “Well, I got to say, you make a strong product. It’s very secure.” And he said, “Why?” And he said, “Because we thought upon entering that home, oh, here’s a 15 foot wide wall of glass, no problem getting through. Let’s go, we’re going to put the team on that, get your pickaxes out, let’s go.” They could not get through the door. And so, they would have had to break the glass. But in many cases, particularly if you’re in Florida, our product has impact glass in it. And a pickaxe isn’t going to break that class. So they had to go through another door.

I think they went through the front door or something. They could break down the front door with the traditional sense, but security is very important. My point is, is security is very important to the homeowners. And when you have a product like ours, particularly when you’re in home all the time and you have this big glass wall, we focus on the fact that our product is highly secure, and it’s also easy for them to open. And obviously, they want pleasing aesthetics and different configurations. We can go on down the list, but a couple of the key things were ease of operation and security. And that’s been, from the beginning, our focus, is to make this product easy to use, also, highly secure.


Kip:

Yeah. And that’s great. Is the, because I do think when you brought that up, I was like yeah, it could appear cold, because you touch class normally and it appears cold. And then is the normal use at a house, like a patio or a backyard door, what is a normal use of the house?

 

Matt Thomas:

We pretty much do every room, but the most standard is going to be the living room. But also what’s really jumped up in the past five to eight years is kitchens. And we for instance, to not talk about us too much, we have a product called the kitchen transition. And it’s where you have the kitchen opening up to the outside, and it’s a dual height system. So these panels open up as they normally would, but then you also have connecting panels that are on top of the counter. And so you have this space that opens completely to the outside that both you can walk through, but then you can also serve drinks and food and have people sit at a counter. And that’s really become popular.

And we created that configuration, that product line. And I’d say kitchens and living room are definitely the core focus. We’ve always heard of that too, bathrooms and kitchens are always a key renovation and focus point of home construction.


Kip:

Yeah. So when you mentioned kitchen, when you mean outside, that would be what? To the living room or the seating area?


Matt Thomas:

Out to the outdoors.


Kip:

Oh, okay.


Matt Thomas:

Right out to a deck, into the yard, having that outside come directly into your kitchen or living room.


Kip:

Yeah, because talking to others, Matt, with homeowners, especially, there’s always the status quo. And I think that’s like a big barrier for a lot of products, is getting people off the status quo, because the contractor pushes the status quo, and the homeowner only knows the status quo, and then this kind of education on how you can make an elegant open experience with your products, it just seems awesome in that way. But I think that’s probably part of it, is just educating people on it.


Matt Thomas:

It is. We do focus on the homeowner, too. We always have, because we know the homeowner, nowadays, they get on all these different sites, they’re on their tablets and they look at these things and develop ideas. And so we, we have idea books, we have all these different ways to communicate the possibilities of what we can do to the homeowner. But you’re right about the contractor. Sometimes they just aren’t aware of what we do too, or they push what their local hardware lumber store pushes. But it’s all about making sure that we have the right messaging. And like I said before, allowing the homeowner or the business owner to understand the possibilities of what they can and can’t do.


Kip:

Well, that’s awesome. Well, again, Matt, I do thank you for your time and just the stories you’re able to tell from the marketing side, of how you do marketing at NanaWall. What’s worked and what’s worked with architects of all careers, early, mid, late, and how you’ve adjusted, and your great approach on how you’ve acknowledged both the traditional and the digital side of marketing. And then going over to more of the actual support to these businesses, it’s again, very noble. And you only live once and it’s great to look back at that and say, this is how we were able to make a difference. I really appreciate you sharing that, so.


Matt Thomas:

Thank you.


Kip:

Yeah, no, absolutely. And if people wanted to reach out to you, Matt, or your company, how could they do that?


Matt Thomas:

Easy, nanawall.com. N-A-N-A-W-A-L-L.com. They want to reach me, it’s just matt.thomas@nanawall.com.


Kip:

Awesome. Well, thanks again for your time, Matt. It’s been a joy and a pleasure, and I’m sure listeners will really enjoy this when we put it out there, and I look forward to talking to you again.


Matt Thomas:

Well, thanks for having me.


Kip:

All right, folks, that wraps us up for today’s show. So you can find our podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify and SoundCloud by searching for The Concord Corner. And if you’d like to, we’d love a rating and a short review if you listen on Apple. Any feedback is appreciated on any of our shows that are coming out and/or just the show in general, or if you just want to say hello.

You can find out more about Concora and our services at www.concora.com. We are on Facebook at facebook.com.concorallc. We are on Twitter @Concora, and you can find us on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/concora. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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