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GUEST EDITOR'S MEMO: New Opportunities Could Be Right Under Your Nose

April 1, 2004
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By Sam Berkowitz, Director of Marketing, HM Royal Inc., Charlotte, NC

What must I do to get you to read this editorial? Based upon today's values, I must promise you one idea that you might want to use now (although you can't make it pay within 90 days so it isn't worth much). Some of you will identify, but I cannot promise happiness.

The adhesive business can be very rewarding and profitable, and the future for the industry as a whole is good. The industry has been fortunate enough to grow so large that there are now many ways to structure a company for success, depending upon the size and whether the company is public or private.

Let me introduce a measurement that is being developed - The Deserved Earnings Range (DER). The concept is easy: How much money should a company expect to earn based upon the value it creates? If you make in excess of the DER you may be stealing your future; conversely, if you make less that the DER, you may want help with your business plan and execution. Keep in mind that manipulating value is not the same as creating value (anyone hear of Enron?). Another point to consider is that you can't save your way to success. You need a positive, strategic plan and the people capable and willing to implement it.

When I started in the adhesive industry in 1962, the adhesive sales people were solving mechanical problems with chemical answers. They went out, found uses for adhesives then offered the service needed to make them work or work better. Over the past several decades, fewer sales people were trained and developed; in fact, fewer adhesive sales people exist in the United States today than 10 years ago. Could it be that fewer sales people, with less training and aptitude and greater daily pressures, could limit the growth of the industry? How many sales people today look for new adhesive opportunities vs. trying to buy away sales developed by someone else? How many business leaders consider sales costs as overhead to be cut when profits are too low?

Now I know that everyone can name the current emerging opportunities, such as those in the medical industry or electronics industry. But where are the next ones? Some may say that new opportunities are in developing countries or they are scarce and not worth searching to find. I say some are right under our nose. For example, many of us own homes that need caulking every year or so. Yet when you go to the store to buy sealants and caulks, they all seem to be warranted for many years. Would I pay more for a product that would truly increase the time between house repairs? Of course, and this could be a new market opportunity. We have no "idiot-proof products" that weather, adhere, and remain elastomeric. I admit to being the idiot. But I may not be alone and this could be a new opportunity as well. Each year that I have bought a new car, they have been less noisy than the past but become noisier sooner. Strange, isn't it? What has changed? What does this say to the pumpable and pre-formed sealer users and producers?

I believe that we have a great industry and that we will all succeed if we do the right things and do them well. I am personally willing to help anyone as long as they can improve my golf game. Just call with a tee time.

We welcome your feedback. Letters to the editor should be addressed to the editor, ASI Magazine, PO Box 936, Lapeer, MI 48446, or e-mailed to mcphersont@bnpmedia.com . Letters must include the sender's address, phone number and e-mail address, when possible. Letters may be edited for space and clarity.

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