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Maneuvering for Growth: Innovating and Launching New Products with a Leading Domestic Chain Manufacturer

The customer is an industrial chain manufacturer that traces its roots back to 1854, when it began as a small blacksmith’s shop in St. Louis, MO. Its first products included the chain that hooked oxen to Conestoga wagons as pioneers began their journey west along the Oregon Trail. Today, the company has four facilities across North America that house over 250,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space. It produces chain for a variety of applications including overhead lifting, tow & binding, traction, and marine, among others. 

Facing Heavy Competition

The customer engaged goBRANDgo! to provide strategic guidance in honing its competitive advantage as the company prepared for a leadership transition. With competition from foreign-produced chain steadily on the rise, it was becoming urgent for the customer to differentiate themselves in an increasingly commoditized market. This challenge left us two choices: overpower the competition, or outmaneuver it. 

Despite the customer’s strong position as a highly reliable and well-respected manufacturer, we knew that attempting to overpower the competition with a big advertising budget or other conventional tactics would not be effective in differentiating it from its competitors. We began to brainstorm with their team about creating a new product that could fulfill customer needs that weren’t being met at the time. 

The Insight

We began our relationship with the customer (as we do with every one of our clients) with our immersion phase, in which we deployed our proven process that helped goBRANDgo! understand their business and industry through “day in the life” shadowing, competitor research, and customer interviews. The moment we stepped foot into the customer’s Fenton, MO facility, we understood instantly that safety is the first priority of both their operation and the products they produce, and every bit of information we learned after that supported this focus on safety.

Through our research, we also discovered that construction workers comprise only 4% of the labor force, but account for 21% of work-related fatalities. Also, between 2011 and 2015, half of all fatal crane-related injuries resulted from the worker being struck by an object, and 24% of all crane-related fatalities occurred in manufacturing and industrial settings. So, as we continued to brainstorm with the customer’s team, we sparked an idea: what if there was a way to make industrial chain easier to see?

A Chain Like No One Had Seen Before

The customer’s team got to work developing this new product, and as a result of their expertise and ingenuity, produced a chain that was 20% stronger and lighter than any other U.S.-made chain, as well as featuring a brightly-colored powder coated finish. Two finish colors were developed, a bright yellow and a bright green, in order to visually indicate the grade of the chain. 

goBRANDgo! was tasked with naming this innovative new product, and our team conducted a series of structured brainstorms to create a name that would communicate the benefits and quality of the new chain. Thus, Hi-Viz was born. As a result of the collaboration of the customer’s and goBRANDgo!’s teams, they were able to go to market with a product unlike any other in the industry. 

For the launch of Hi-Viz chain, goBRANDgo! created a marketing campaign to educate customers and create excitement for the new product. The campaign included direct mail, an email drip campaign, a website landing page, and other supporting materials to help the customer’s sales team and distributor partners demonstrate the value of Hi-Viz chain.

Safety, Strength, and Profitability: A Win-Win-Win

Hi-Viz chain increases the safety of the environments in which it is applied by making the chain stand out from the environment—whether in a manufacturing plant or outdoor construction setting. With loads weighing as much as 100,000 tons being lifted overhead regularly, the greater the visibility of the equipment being used, the safer the site becomes. Not only does Hi-Viz chain help address safety concerns, but its lighter weight and stronger capacity also make it a more effective product for consumers and increases margins for the customer.

In a highly commoditized industry, the ability to think strategically and differentiate yourself from the market is paramount. It spells the difference between growth and decline. Waging a war of attrition in such an environment is risky—it’s unlikely to work, but is sure to be expensive. At goBRANDgo!, we prefer to help our clients develop a maneuver strategy, which leverages innovation and agility to help them occupy new spaces in their industry that create competitive advantages in ever redder oceans.

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