Bright White Paper Co.: Never stop innovating
Learn how Wells Fargo customers Rick and Sharon Kazdin run their paper business by prioritizing product innovation and customer feedback.
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When customers find us, we tend to keep them. Our customer base grows all the time, and where we used to get maybe only 20 new customers a month, we're getting anywhere from 40 to 60, even more a month now.
Well, one day we were in the office and the phone rang, and with caller ID I actually, you know, could see who was calling. It was the IRS. And I wasn't sure whether I wanted to answer the phone or not. Fortunately, they were placing a very large order, and so it was good news from the IRS.
It was a milestone because from there we got a lot of other government orders. You know, once one government agency finds you, then more and more do find you after that.
Our plan for our business was always to be small, while our competitor traditionally are much larger than us. We don't have the availability for tons of sales people, or we don't have the ability of a lot of distributors, which our competitors tend to rely on. So normally, we're always fighting our way out of a corner.
The beauty of being small, the beauty of working together is the fact that if I've got an idea, I can sit down with Sharon at any given moment and we can talk about the idea.
By coming out with new products all the time, or at least new ideas all the time, whether it's products or marketing, that really makes a big difference.
I think you also have to listen to your customers. If your customers want a product tweaked, or if they want something changed, you have to listen to them. It might not always work, but you have to try it, listen to them, and take heed.
What we've done is pursue our poster paper business. Now we offer 30 different colors with that. We've expanded into wide format papers, wide format inkjet printers, cold laminators as well as display boards and variations of that.
When we're at trade shows one of the advantages is we can actually come up with new ideas for our products. We came up with a variation for our Easy Board at the restaurant trade show. Some of the attendees said they wanted something smaller for a tabletop, so we came back here, came up with some, some samples for them.
Unless you listen to your customers and try these ideas, you'll never grow or never come up with other products.
I think the biggest issue with people are that they, that they have ideas, and good ideas for businesses, but they won't try them. And I think that even by failing, it gives you the confidence that you can at least try. At least you tried.
We have two patents on our process now. And it was a very, very long and very expensive process. But it gives us the ability to keep our competitor out of the market, out of our process. For us, having the patents gives us a lot of strength.
It's actually quite rewarding when you create new products and, and, you know, help your customers out — day in, day out. And it's actually very nice to spend a lot of quality time, you know, with your spouse.
Some of our friends think that we're crazy working together every day, living together. But the secret to that is to really have your own areas of expertise in the business. I'll do the books and he does the marketing. We work well together because our fields really don't overlap. I feel very lucky to own my own business and to work with my husband. It's, it's a lot of fun.