BGC Keeps Helping Easy2 Technologies

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CHALLENGE:
When we last checked in with John Bukovnik, CEO of Cleveland-based Easy2 Technologies, back in the spring of 2004, his company had matured from wunderkind to major player. Easy2 Technologies, www.easy2.com, founded in January 2000, provides interactive marketing and training programs to retailers and manufacturers, and it was the entrepreneurial equivalent of the overnight success taking Hollywood by storm. When Bukovnik hired Andy Birol in 2003, his intent was to strengthen the company to sustain long-term success. The result? Easy2 became more efficient as its production increased in scale, allowing it to deliver premium products to a rising number of clients in the home improvement industry. It was only a matter of time—actually, a few short months—before the company began expanding into new markets.

SITUATION:
John Bukovnik first called on Andy when Easy2 was just three years old. As a supplier/partner for the mega-retailer Lowe’s, the company was wowing the home improvement industry with its animated, interactive product demonstrations, tutorials, and buying guides, produced in MacroMedia Flash, aimed at consumers. As more and more Lowe’s vendors sought the customized solutions Easy2 provided, the company needed to scale up to keep pace with demand. With Andy’s help, Bukovnik and his team revitalized their efforts in client services, created product bundles, and established new systems and scheduling tools capable of handling tenfold increases in orders. Working with Andy, as Bukovnik noted in a 2004 interview, had a “definite impact on the [company’s] bottom line.”

Fast forward to the fall of 2004. After eighteen months of terrific sales figures, it was time for Easy2 to “take a pulse” to ensure it was growing in the right direction, according to Scott Moss, vice-president of marketing and business development. “We weren’t satisfied with some of the efforts we were making to diversify,” said Moss, adding, “Andy is good at looking at things from 30,000 feet and giving his objective opinion. When you’re intimate with a situation, you need someone like him to offer that perspective.”

Moss, who joined Easy2 shortly after Andy’s initial work with John Bukovnik, had led efforts to take the company’s product offering to the healthcare industry, with mixed results. With a background in healthcare, Moss understood the “barriers” to getting medical manufacturing suppliers to adopt online demonstrations and tutorials; specifically, the industry’s snail’s-pace embrace of new technologies in general. “Medical companies demonstrate products on-site,” said Moss, “and getting them to adopt new technologies outside of what they are used to doing is very difficult.”

Yet, Easy2 was committed to diversifying. “We are known for being cutting edge,” said Moss, “and we didn’t want to get stuck serving our existing client base with existing products, and risk getting stuck behind the curve.”

THE BGC SOLUTION:
Realizing that healthcare, while a potential goldmine, was a slow-moving industry, Bukovnik asked Andy to help Easy2 refocus on other industries. The first step involved targeting the source of the company’s success. “He challenged us to define the business,” said Moss. “What is our Best and Highest Use®? What is our mission statement? Our vision statement?” Over a period of several weeks, Moss and his team sat down with Andy, hammering out answers to these questions and conducting a SWOT analysis, the first for Easy2 Technologies.

Andy also challenged the team to identify their existing clients in terms of what the company was doing for them … what it was not doing for them … and what it should be doing for them. “We surveyed our clients,” said Moss, “to find out what they need from us, and then we surveyed our employees to define who they think we are.” Data in hand, the group created a mission statement reflective of the company’s BHU. It reads as follows:

Our mission is to leverage our interactive expertise to assist retailers and their manufacturers to:

  • Heighten product awareness
  • Enhance brand perception
  • Increase sales
  • Decrease customer service costs
  • Create and enrich employee training

With these goals in mind, Andy helped the team identify several new target markets. Since Easy2’s products help other businesses serve their customers, and are thus created with end users in mind, the consumer electronics market was a natural first choice. The next step was to determine how to move forward from a marketing and sales perspective, and it became clear that the company didn’t have the public relations expertise it required. “We all wear several hats because we’re a young, entrepreneurial firm,” said Moss, “and we need someone else to do the things we just don’t have time to do.” The company began searching for a PR firm, he explained, “not to brand our identity, but to push our identity out there to those who ought to be in the know.”

In short, Easy2 has initiated an overall strategic development upgrade, including marketing, sales, R&D (based in part on the results of the customer survey), and business development. “We have found other areas where we can serve clients,” noted Moss, “in our core market as well as new ones.”

CLIENT RESULTS:
One year after re-hiring Andy, John Bukovnik has led Easy2 Technologies to new levels of growth. The company has enhanced its reputation in the home improvement industry by shoring up its ability to serve more clients more effectively. In addition, Easy2 has achieved traction in multiple new markets, including:

  • Consumer electronics
  • Sewing and crafts
  • Toys and juvenile products Specialty retail

But the company hasn’t abandoned the medical industry, which holds great potential over the long term. “We just didn’t try to make new inroads with new people,” said Moss, “but we have developed our original prospects. Things are starting to happen.”

In terms of public relations, the company has been featured in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Smart Business Cleveland, and received mention in several other publications, including Inside Business. They have launched a national press initiative, including an email newsletter, and won the Horizon Interactive Award. As for the risk of getting “stuck behind the curve,” no one at Easy2 is riding in the slow lane. “We got busy before that happened,” said Moss. “We’ve been able to modify our products to stay cutting edge.” As for Andy’s role, Moss, said, he served as the catalyst for positive change. “Andy’s value is that he stirs things up. It’s one thing to identify and designate, another to implement,” Moss said. “[Andy] is a call to action.”




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