PODCASTS

How to Build a Successful Company by Focusing On Customer Needs?

How to Build a Successful Company by Focusing On Customer Needs?

Kip sits down with Dan Benz to discuss How to Build a Successful Company by Focusing On Customer Needs?

 

 



 

 

Podcast Participants:

Graham: Product Director Concora
Kip Rapp: CEO Concora
Dan Benz: Sales & Business Development Manager Architectural Concepts

 

Graham:

Hello, everyone and welcome to the Concora Corner, a podcast dedicated to bringing you interviews with folks working in the AEC and BPM industry. I’m one of your hosts, Graham Waldrop, a director of product here at Concora. Today on the show we’re talking with Dan Benz who is the Eastern sales and business development manager at Architectural Concepts. Dan discusses the innovative ways that Architectural Concepts builds and distributes custom-built doors and glass solutions throughout the residential and commercial projects. This was a really fun interview that I was happy that I actually got to participate in, as opposed to just editing, and I think you guys are really going to enjoy what Dan brings to the table. He’s just an upbeat guy, very good at what he does, a lot of positive energy. We hope you enjoy today’s interview with Dan, 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 web 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 submittals, sustainability, project showcases, or anything else needed by your 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. to learn more. We case studies and see how other customers have grown sales with our partnership.


Kip:

Yeah. Well thanks, Dan, for joining our podcast. Actually was really looking forward to talking to you and your unique approach of how you built your business and how much you were focused on customer needs. And I know a lot of our listeners, Dan, they know that to be true at some level. And just getting kind of your practical experience and

viewpoints and what’s worked out, what hasn’t, is going to be interesting for everyone. So I’d just like to introduce you to our audience and who you are, who you work for, what you do, and what makes you different.


Dan Benz:

Absolutely. Thanks for having me Kip. We really appreciate you guys taking this time to let us kind of talk about the company as well as maybe some tips and tricks that we’ve learned along the way as well. So, Dan Benz. Architectural Concepts is the name of our company. I cover half the country for our company, as well as the Caribbean and South America. So quite an array of clients that we work with. We manufacture and distribute shower doors, shower enclosure barn doors. Doors, frames, and hardware is kind of the history. We’ve been in the business for going on 13 years now. The last crash is kind of where we started. Challenging times like we’ve had over the last year. But it’s been a fun ride and we’ve seen a lot of growth over that time.

 

Kip:

Yeah. I know for people that are either on the residential side or commercial side, it’s been different as far as company growth. And in general, I’ve heard people on the residential side, people are living at home and they want to put doors in or paint things or have better furniture. So has that been your experience on the company?

 

Dan Benz:

Yep. We’ve, you know, some of that side. So our main focus has always been on the hospitality, hotels, development side. Resorts. And we’ve gotten more, over this last year, we’ve gotten a lot more into the residential side sector. We need to adapt based on what’s kind of in front of us. So with multi-family, even with some projects, new build construction on the residential side that we’ve become a little bit more involved in over this last year that we’re not typically involved in as much.

 

Kip:

Gotcha. I know when we talked last, Dan, you did really have a fascinating story of how your company started and how you started based on a particular customer’s needs from many years ago. So I’d love to have you walk our listeners through on how that started and how that relates to listening to your customers and empathy and then taking maybe an opportunity that you could do better for everyone.

 

Dan Benz:

So, like I said before, being focused on hospitality. Marriott Corporate was one of the main accounts that we worked with, or the owner Scott Colby worked with. And he was working for our previous company at the time before he started Architectural Concepts. And based on the needs that Marriott had, they kept mentioning saying, “Hey, you know exactly what we want. You know kind of our timeframe, how we work, what our franchisees need, price points, lead time. Why don’t you just start a company and make it for us? Just accommodate our needs?” He’s like, “Well, you know, that’s a big change just to start a company.” And he took that leap and listened. And we’re over 100 employees now and it started with just 2, within the last 12 years. 12, 13 years.

 

Dan Benz:

So it’s been that kind of focus on what the customer actually needs, not always what they want, but what they need and listening to that and being attentive to that. And so we’ve evolved over that time and we’ve added that glass and glazing. The shower side that I talked about, listening to our client needs again. And they’re saying, “Hey, we kind of want a one-stop shop.” So we added that part on. And then we added a manufacturing side or we manufacture state-side now. So it’s been a whirlwind of a journey, a lot of changes, a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of, I guess you could say, pushing as much as possible and stretching on that growth.

 

Kip:

Yeah. Well that’s cool. So you mentioned 2 people, 12 years ago. You mentioned a gentleman there, Marriott. And obviously there was some kind of relationship. So what was prior to that because he asked, “Hey, you know our needs. Why don’t you start a company and work with us directly?” So what was happening before that?

 

Dan Benz:

Before that, what would happen is the products that we were offering… it’s still a door product but at that kind of price point as well as the other distributors that were around the country would maybe offer up… or the owner would say, “Hey, I need a different type of product.” Even though this is kind of the direction that we want to stay on in the design intent, they would end up getting something else. So Marriott would be thinking, “Hey, we think we’re going to get this door. This is what we would like.” And then, sure enough, they show up to the property to review it and there’s a completely different door than what was originally planned on. And so trying to fix that and make sure that they actually have what they need and what they wanted and what they originally designed and planned on.

 

Kip:

Sure. And so how did the relationships change once you started the company? Did you do anything differently, was there another set of responsibilities?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. So when Scott made that change, it was finding those relationships going from kind of working for a manufacturer to now sourcing the product ourselves. And that’s not the easiest to do. So in that part, we first started as a distributor of other manufacturers stateside and then also started importing product as well based on the lead time and pricing that our clients would need. So that’s kind of where things had to move towards at the beginning. And then eventually, now, we have the import division as well as distributing. But now we also have added that other layer by vertically integrating and manufacturing ourselves stateside to be able to accommodate that supply chain.

 

Graham:

Yeah Dan. I have a couple of questions. I work on the product side of things at Concora so I’m always interested in seeing how products are managed in other companies. So I was curious about your doors and glass and things like that. Are they custom built for each customer or do you have sort of a slate that’s available for purchase?

 

Dan Benz:

Great question. It depends because we’re probably about three to four companies underneath one roof now and different divisions. So most of our stuff, I will be honest, is custom but without the custom price tag. Everybody that always hears the word, “Oh it’s custom. Well automatically it’s not going to be within my budget.” That’s just how it works because it’s not something that you just grab off the shelf at Home Depot. But in reality, every order that we do is made-to-order but it’s still made within that budget. There are a couple of products that they are off the shelf, readily available timeframe-wise. But the majority of our products in the different categories are custom.

 

Graham:

Cool. So how do you manage your inventory then if every order is custom?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. So obviously staying on top of our sales pipeline as much as possible and projects that are coming down the line. So of our [inaudible 00:10:16] that are coming and based on our lead time. That’s what makes it really helpful or makes us unique is that we have that import side where we can import products, and then we have the domestic side where we distribute for other manufacturers as well as we manufacture ourselves. So that lead time can be 12 to 14 weeks, that lead time can be 8 to 10, or that lead time could be 3 to 4.

 

Graham:

You must have a great relationship then with your designers in order to facilitate all that.

 

Dan Benz:

Yes. We try to as much as possible. Every person that we meet that we haven’t met before says, “Where have you been? Why have I not heard of you before? Because you have what I need. You’re like a hidden secret out there that I just found.”

 

Kip:

That’s great. And I was talking to someone else, Dan, where they specialize in flooring. Right? And so why they’re different is that they just know flooring really well. So it sounds like with what your product, you can solve problems by customizing it and all types of dooring type of solutions or similar solutions. So is that similar to what your expertise and why people like you is because you’re just really knowledgeable in that product type?

 

Dan Benz:

Correct. Yeah. So we like to help from that design concept as well to be able to make sure it’s within budget, to make sure that design is being kept. Because so many times something will be designed or something will be selected and that budget number could be not realistic of where things actually need to be which adds a lot more work for everybody else to do on the backside or closer to when the project is supposed to actually happen. So it’s definitely helped us a lot to be able to accommodate that. And clients are always saying, “Hey, do you do this as well?” And we’re like, “No. We can’t be the jack of all trades, of all products that go into a project.” But we definitely want to stay the master of the couple that we are comfortable with and that we do know and have that expertise to be able to add that knowledge and that experience that we’ve had over the several decades between the company owners.

 

Kip:

So it’s like holographic doors or something.

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. There are some things that… it’s always unique. I’m just like, “Well you know, we could make it but I think that only exists on that computer screen. I don’t think you can really make that in real life.”

 

Kip:

Yeah. And what’s a good example, right? If you’re… like you mentioned solving problems and so I imagine a customer gets to you and they’re like, “I got this unique objective or problem or design type of vision that I have.” I assume that’s how some of that goes. But is there a good one that you can share that you were able to help out with?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. So there’s actually one. I was actually just on a conference call Wednesday.

 

Kip:

Wednesday? Yeah.

 

Dan Benz:

For a project in New York. You know, they’re getting ready for a model room. They kind of have a budget, not necessarily. But they know that they’re already way over budget before things. And so that conversation that I had with them is kind of what is that design intent, looking at all the renderings. Finding out where their budget is as well. “Hey, if we are over budget, how far away are we from that? And I’m going to let you know of how we can get closer to it based on utilizing these options. You’re looking at these images and this is what your conceptual design is and we’ll try to make it a reality based on that actual budget.”

 

Dan Benz:

So the model room’s going to be this summer so we’ve got our team on our glass side as well as on our door side that are working on making sure to find the options that we can offer that will be within that budget to be able to help that become a reality. And this is a conversation in project that we work on on a regular basis. And one of the biggest things is what is the lead time, what is the budget? Those are the two most essential things that knowing ahead of time of working towards that end goal and kind of working backwards on that.

 

Kip:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So was their objective more of a functional or aesthetic or what was kind of the customization they were looking for?

 

Dan Benz:

A lot of aesthetic. There is functional. It’s a high-end property and they’ve… if I showed you the renderings, you’d be like, “Wow.” It’s gorgeous but like holy cow. And part of it’s trying to figure out, once again, it’s on a computer screen and now it’s like how do we make that a reality? And that’s where Architectural Concepts, we take on that challenge to say, “Okay. Hey, this is how we can make this a reality.” And we have another project that we just did over the holidays. They said, “Hey, we need everything in four weeks.” Okay. You know, there’s only certain things that we can get within four weeks.

 

Kip:

A square door?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. Pretty much everything that you designed and that was selected needs to get changed. And we presented those options and everything has been ordered. And we actually are installing stuff for that project for the model room within the next two weeks.

 

Kip:

Yeah. It’s so apropos with your name, Architectural… it’s like designs and solutions and how you’re really making that a reality for your customers. And was that the name of the company 12 years ago?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. Yep. Architectural Concepts. Yep. Yep. And so, I guess a funny story about it. It’s AC for short. The owner, his last name is Colby and his wife’s name is Audrey. So it’s actually named after his wife, Audrey Colby. So AC.

 

Kip:

Oh AC? Not like alternating current? Yeah. That’s nice. Was that always been the vision 12 years ago is to be a vertical type of integration of what you’re trying to do?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. Absolutely. It’s never been about being the biggest company out there. But we just want to make sure that we can vertically control and service our clients, the way that we have heard what they need, and deliver on those needs that they have. So, you know, we probably can have opportunities to sell our products all over the world and be kind of like that price driven. But we want to be able to be nimble, still somewhat smaller to be able to maneuver around and to be able to accommodate those needs of our clients. We don’t want to be everyone’s client but we want to be the best to our clients.

 

Graham:

How has your sales process changed in the advent of COVID? Other than I’m sure the obvious one of not being able to travel as much and things like that. But what specifically for you has changed and how have you adapted to continue to make your sales process successful?

 

Dan Benz:

Great question and I’m sure everybody is asking that question or has been trying to figure out that question over the last almost 12 months now. You know, before I was traveling every week with presentations every other day all over

 

the country. And that came to a stop and then it’s like, “Okay. Now we need to figure out how do we continue to get our product in front of clients.” So we’ve actually done a lot of virtual presentations, one-on-one presentations with decision makers to be able to kind of show. I actually set up a tabletop at my house with all of our products, just like what I would [crosstalk 00:18:30]

 

Kip:

Sock puppets?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah you know. Every so often my little baby girl who’s a year and a half starts banging on the glass door and is like, “Hey dad!”

 

Kip:

Look, it’s resistant to break.

 

Dan Benz:

Exactly. So it’s definitely been a challenge to adjust. And one of the big keys that I’ve found that I’ve been successful with is when talking to clients, and especially with follow up, is finding out from them when they would like me to follow up back with them. Not a, “Hey, I’ll follow up with you in two weeks or a month.” It’s like, “Hey, when would be a good time for you because I know you’re busy. You don’t have a lot of time.” Last thing that you want is a manufacturer or a vendor rep to be calling you once a week that’s on their calendar that’s like, “Okay. Follow up with Joe. Follow up with Joe.” And the same response, “Yeah, I’m still working on it. I don’t have a feel for you yet. No, we haven’t designed it yet.” So that’s something that I’ve found that clients also really appreciate is being mindful of their time and how busy they are to be able to follow back up with them on that project or that design, whatever they might be working on.

 

Graham:

Right. That sounds smart, especially the adjustment in terms of asking them when you can follow up. I think that’s great. And has your website been more critical now than ever before or digital marketing game? Getting the word out since there are no trade shows right now and things like that.

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. Absolutely. And over this last year with our door manufacturing plant coming online, our website, obviously we haven’t gotten all of our products on there. But it’s like, “Hey, we need to show all of the offerings that we have now and not just from the different divisions but now stateside as well.” So we’ve got our catalog up there now, we’ve got DWG files as well as PDFs for clients to be able to make those changes and customize it that little bit that they need based on their design or based on their project. So it definitely has had a decent size overhaul and continues to have an overhaul as we speak.

 

Graham:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

 

Kip:

Yeah. And so I was trying to connect the dots when you mentioned customers and then you’re trying to work out solutions in either the doors, indoors or sliding doors. Are you typically competing against a spec or are you a spec… because I’m guessing that these architects or building owners are struggling with some of the design requirements they have. So could you walk me through that? Like a lot of our manufacturers are a little more standardized, right? They have a spec product and they’re working with architects to say, “Oh, here’s why we’re different. Here’s how we can help you. Or here’s how you can use us instead of what’s in your specs.” Any thoughts on that?

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. So kind of unique. When the company first started, it was more on the backside. So we’re maybe not necessarily the specification but providing an alternate or similar to VE option. But over the years we’ve become, and especially I’d say within the last three years, we’ve had a big ramp up into actually being specified on brands or on projects. So being that spec products rather than just being kind of a number or as a equal to on the backside. So starting that relationship and establishing that relationship with the designer and architect at the beginning of that process has definitely been a shift in change that we’ve been moving towards as the company has grown and we’ve been able to utilize that more and push in that direction.

 

Kip:

So how do you reconcile being spec’d and custom designs then?

 

Dan Benz:

Asking a lot of questions at the beginning. And sometimes you can’t always predict the future, especially when something’s being designed at the very beginning, but you can come up with a good schematic at the beginning, and especially to be able to stay within that budget realm. And by selecting products that are within that wheelhouse, that box, to kind of stay in line so that nothing really changes over time. And then if there’s some tweaks that happen, they’re small tweaks instead of a complete overhaul when it comes to actually building up a project.

 

Kip:

So in that case, you’re working with… is it the building owner, the GC, or the architect? Or is it a mix for that early design?

 

Dan Benz:

Everybody always asks, “So who do you work with? Who do you work with?” And I’m like… just like residential or commercial, in sales there’s kind of different breeds of people that relate better or work better with other people. I wear multiple hats. I can be in a CEU presentation with architects and we’re talking more technical on that side and fire ratings and codes. I can be on the other side talking with a designer and showing the different finishes and the colors that they’re touching or the different hardware. With an owner, I can be talking with an owner or a GC, and mainly it’s going to be like, “Hey, I need this door. Doesn’t really matter what it looks like. That it looks like this, but here’s my price point that I need to be at bottom line.” So it’s learning to be able to kind of switch that dialogue and that conversation that you have with them on how to be able to present because something that you may say to an architect or a designer, an owner may not really want to pay attention to that or hear that conversation.

 

Kip:

Yeah. In those cases, as you mentioned, if you’re earlier in the design process you can build that relationship, understand those objectives. And it sounds like then, from a customization side, you can work with those constituents that really design a door that meets their needs. Is that fair?

 

Dan Benz:

Absolutely. Yeah. A door, a shower. You know? And with the unique things that we deal with on a daily basis, like the barn door right behind me. Or if it’s a swing door, there’s a lot of parts that go into that for functionality and making sure that it actually fits and works in that space. And then also on some of the parts that you don’t really see on the construction side, is it a renovation, is there blocking? Or is there a thermostat on the wall that’s sticking out where the door’s going to run into it? So there’s a lot of unknowns sometimes as well that you encounter and you deal with the best that you can and you kind of help either design around it or change things.

 

Kip:

That’s cool. And do you see, now that you have a relationship and you have a nice design for this door, does it then make it harder for other competitors to compete? Or what’s your thoughts on that?

 

Dan Benz:

No. I mean it’s similar. I would say that we’re kind of the new kids of the block. You know, we’re still a little bit more nimble on that side. There’s other companies that you can customize and you can kind of change things. But the way that we’ve kind of been unique on that is that, with our lead time for example, we had a project, it’s a custom door. They said, “Hey, we need this door and we need it at the job site in two weeks.” Unless you’re buying it off the shelf, typically that’s not something that it’s like, “Oh yeah. Sure.”

 

Kip:

We’ll go to Walmart.

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. You know? It’s like, “Hey, you might have a better chance at Menards or Lowe’s.” But we’re able to accommodate that because we know that that’s the need of the majority of our clients. And so we’ve adjusted in kind of our plan of attack as well as our main client base to be able to accommodate those needs. Where sometimes, other manufacturers, they might talk to our other companies. They’re like, “Hey, this is the time frame.” Like it is what it is because they’ve either grown to a certain size or because that’s what they’re focused on and those are the clients that they work with. Where we try to make it more about the clients that we work with. We know that those are those situations where they need something within a week to two weeks and it has to be custom. You know? It’s not something that you just get… the sizes are different, the panel’s different, it might have a mirror, it might have a piece of glass, it might have five panels. So definitely changing and adjusting to those needs.

 

Kip:

And you mentioned some time ago being spec’d more in the last year. Is that then correlated to manufacturing your own doors too and being able to support more of the supply chain? I was just trying to connect… is there a connection there?

 

Dan Benz:

There is. And we’ve also gotten out a lot more as well. So we’ve grown our sales team as well as our presence. And before COVID, we started going to some of the trade shows, we started showing our product off. We’ve been having a lot more inquiries about our product as well. And part of that is because of our sales team that has grown, we’ve seen that, as well as now being able to manufacture and have that lead time as well as stocking some of our certain models of shower doors that are readily available. People are like, “Oh, you have something available. When I need it right away, I’m going to call you.” Or, “Hey so and so. You should talk to so and so because they can definitely get something for you when you need it and still within that budget timeline.”

 

Kip:

Yeah, that’s really cool. So I’m hearing this manufacturing, having some set of standard doors being spec’d, and then there’s also where your roots are which is customizing solutions to objectives and aesthetic type or functional design requirements. So is it a balance there or is it still a lot of custom work or are you taking some of that custom work and building standard products from that to sell others? Or how does that work?

 

Dan Benz:

It’s still custom. So even when working at the beginning of a standard or a design, there might be an overall… like, for example, this door with the mirror in it. That might be the concept of it is that, “hey, it’s a three foot by six foot, eight door with a mirror in it and with these handles.” But that may change a little bit on a project by project basis. So the design is the same but the actual maybe size, width, thickness, or machining that needs to be done on that door is unique to that individual project. So as much as we would love to plan ahead and have those standard designs, every one of them somewhat changes, especially when it comes to doors because every opening is not always exactly the same, especially when you deal with a renovation or how things are built.

 

Kip:

So in that case, is there… I’m thinking like retooling or if there’s something they haven’t done in a while, then you have to retool the manufacturing a bit and there’s maybe some lead time there I would imagine. And you mentioned an example where someone needed something in two weeks on the job site. So yeah.

 

Dan Benz:

Yeah. There is. There is. And part of that is staying in touch with the team that’s on the floor at the plant.

 

Kip:

Yeah.

 

Dan Benz:

And having a good pulse on that, on kind of where we are with production of current orders. And, “Hey, this is what we have. Can we accommodate this? Can we kind of put this in the mix?” Yes, it may change things a little bit. And yeah, there’s going to need to be some retooling, especially if it’s a mirrored door versus a panel door or a certain type of groove that needs to go in it profile. And that’s where I guess you could say on the phone a lot on a regular basis to make sure that those unique opportunities or those quick lead time needs come in. And communication is always the key and keeping everybody up to date on kind of what the status is and what’s happening.

 

Kip:

It sounds like a fun ride and a long journey that’s been organic. And what does it look like for your company… I know you said you’re manufacturing now. And is there things like next year… is there a longer vision over the next few years that you’d like to head into? That you can share maybe? Maybe you can’t share.

 

Dan Benz:

No. I mean, there’s some things that I’m like, “Ah!” You know? Trying to make sure I don’t get in to much trouble. You know, because obviously I’d like to share everything. But I will say staying at our continued growth path that we have right now on the manufacturing side as well as the kind of overall in the products that we provide in continuing to be fully integrated for all the divisions that we offer to our clients. So that’s kind of… it’s still staying on the same growth and how we have organically evolved, like you mentioned. That has been our focus and is going to continue as well.

 

Kip:

Good.

 

Dan Benz:

So, you know. As they say, the sky’s the limit right?

 

Kip:

Yeah. Yeah. And as we talked about this kind of vertical integration where you’re controlling more of the supply chain… which is really noble because you have customer’s needs at the top of it or at the bottom of it that says, “Oh, this is what our vision is.” And then now you have elements of that supply chain that you can design it, manufacture it, source it, build it. Are you selling through distributors or are you taking more of that downstream supply chain too?

 

Dan Benz:

Kind of both. So part of it’s finding those good partners that are on that, I guess you could say, in that division or in that category. So it’s definitely been something new for us to deal with and work with. And part of that has always been having a open conversation and being frank and honest. The fastest way to lose your reputation is to try to cheat somebody out of something or steal something from someone or not tell the truth and then somebody find out about it. So we try to be as transparent as possible with our clients, with distributors that we work with as well, because that’s how the company has been built so we don’t see any other way to be able to continue to grow and to move forward.

 

Graham:

And speaking of growth, you mentioned starting to move into residential areas as well. So you can walk through a little bit of difference between selling to commercial versus residential?

 

Dan Benz:

Our main client base is still hospitality and mainly commercial. And I guess you could say in residential, we’re starting to take the path more of being a manufacturer and having distributor partners that take care of that residential part of the company to kind of help take that off of our plate I guess you could say. Because it just makes more sense for us for growth wise.

 

Kip:

What else can you share though like if there’s other people that are in this space and they’re either trying to start a company or they’re trying to grow a company that’s a little more organic? Anything that you could share with them on a takeaway that they can learn?

 

Dan Benz:

I mean, I would say probably the number one thing or the main thing is start small and be okay with being small. You know, it’s always hard starting at the beginning of something and you see all the opportunity or you’ve experienced it maybe when you were working for another company of where you can get to. There are a lot of parts of that to get to that point that you don’t know yet and you’re going to learn that over time. And be okay with those small growing pains instead of those large growing pains I definitely would say would be part of the key.

 

Dan Benz:

And over this last year, we’ve actually seen that [inaudible 00:35:22] or the opportunities that people kind of take that risk or say, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to kind of start something.” Now is probably the best time to do it. And that’s when those entrepreneurial minds like, “Hey, let’s jump into it. Let’s go after it.” Which I think is absolutely amazing and we need more of. But definitely taking that… being small and starting small is okay and know that eventually it’s going to pay off and that you’ll be able to grow to where you never would have imagined before.

 

Kip:

No, that’s great. And I guess on the other side, you mentioned you started manufacturing about a year ago, right? And COVID hit. I’m sure it must have been scary. I talk to a lot of people who are like, “We don’t know if this is the end of the world or what’s going to happen to our business.” And some people manage better than others. And I can only imagine because one, being in commercial, it’s a little tougher because of things being stocked and suspended a bit. And then if you have a factory floor, then it’s people can’t work together as much. They have a cough and they have to go home, right? So did you experience any of that or was it stressful at the beginning?

 

Dan Benz:

Yes. I’d say yes on all accounts. You know, in the beginning of last year, we had a lot of trade shows and conferences that we were getting ready to display products and ramping up and getting ready to open our manufacturing of the doors. Then everything hit and it was like, “Okay, our plan for opening everything, it got delayed.” That’s the way it worked. But it was how long is it going to be delayed? Should we put this on hold for a little bit longer? And with the commitment that the owners had, said, “Hey. We’re going to continue to push through. This is something that is going to help with the growth of our company. Period. And we’re going to continue to go because that’s what we’ve done over the last 13 years.”

 

Dan Benz:

And it’s definitely been hard, it’s been trying, it’s been frustrating, there’s probably been tears along the way, a little bit of blood, and a lot of sweat. But we’ve overcome and we’ve gotten to that point. And now, looking back on it, there’s nothing that we would have changed on making that decision to move forward with starting that manufacturing in the middle. At a time when orders are not really there. You’re trying to find things, the production line. You’re like, “Okay, well we’ve got x amount of production we can do. Is there anything coming?”

 

Kip:

Yeah. Well I really appreciate that. I mean it sounds like… you’re obviously a positive guy Dan and it sounds like your company grew on great culture and guiding lights and it kept you well in alignment in the COVID times and that’s paid off apparently. So it’s definitely something that I appreciate and I agree with. And it sounds like you have a lot of exciting things moving on. And I did want to wrap up here Dan and I appreciate your time spending here. And if people wanted to reach out to you or your company, how would they do that?

 

Dan Benz:

You know the best thing is going to probably be our website. So it’s going to be a-r-c-h conceptsllc.com. If not, I’ll put it out there. My phone number is 704-231-2046. Just pick up the phone and give me a call. It’s what I enjoy, trying to figure out what we can do to help out.

 

Kip:

Awesome. Well thanks again. I’ve enjoyed this. I know Graham and I are in a lot of these and it’s definitely… you learn a lot of things that you may not have thought about at the beginning. So I appreciate you sharing with the audience and hopefully the audience has gotten a lot out of it too. So thanks again.

 

Dan Benz:

Absolutely. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity and being able to share the story and kind of what we’ve done. And thanks for giving me that chance.

 

Graham:

All right folks, that wraps us up for today’s show. So you can find our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and SoundCloud by searching for Concora Corner. If you’d like to, we’d love a rating or a short review if you listen on Apple. Any feedback is appreciated on any of our shows that are coming out 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 at concora. And you can find us on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/company.concora. Thank you for listening and have a great day.

 

 

 

 

Concora is the Web Experience Platform for Building Product Manufacturers.