Wednesday, 31 January 2007 19:00

Planning for success

A move to a new location requires careful planning and the input of an expert. So when it became obvious to Dick Muny more than two years ago that it would be necessary to consolidate the diverse technical disciplines of Chemsultants International Inc. at one location, he set in motion plans to relocate to a corporate campus he hoped would improve efficiency and be more conducive to collaboration.

When Muny founded Chemsultants in the mid-1980s, the company was primarily a consulting laboratory specializing in the polymer and adhesives industries. Later, Muny found that a market existed for processes and devices his company had developed for its own use, and so he launched ChemInstruments and ChemDevelopment under the Chemsultants umbrella.

And while sales increased, topping $14 million in 2006 revenue, the expansion presented problems. Located in three separate buildings in Mentor and one in Cincinnati, the company struggled with communication breakdowns.

“Often, a project leader would have to place a phone call and wait to make an appointment with a guru who is in a different location,” Muny says. “Because of the inconvenience involved, we often had these bright people working on that aspect of the project themselves instead of getting the help of an expert.”

At the new location since last summer, Muny is already observing the results he hoped for: increased collaboration and efficiency, and an increase in workload for the company. He credits the success to preparation. The planning aspect of a major relocation is vital to ensuring the project’s success, and Muny says the right time to begin planning a move is two years before you actually move.

“It’s easy for someone who is in the research and development business to think ahead because that’s what we do every day,” Muny says. “For many years, I’ve been sitting around at my desk designing fantasy buildings or fantasy campuses because it’s just part of working on your next vision for where the company’s going to go.”

To assist in planning for and executing the move, Muny brought on relocation consultant Brian Winston, a former project manager for Avery Dennison Corp., a decision that he says was important to the project’s success.

“He helped design the building, he helped negotiate with the contractor, he kept track of all the details,” Muny says. “He single-handedly helped us avoid some real disasters because he was able to focus on that specific project, while I had to run the business and all these other things, as well. If I had to do my regular job and that job, too, we would not have had the same quality building.

“No matter how experienced you think you are, you’re not an expert in dealing with builders and contractors. You need somebody that speaks their language and can tell you when things aren’t right.”

In addition to having an experienced project manager, Muny says such tasks require that employees at all levels make an effort to ensure a smooth transition. He was astonished at the results of collaboration when moving day finally rolled around.

“Everybody pitched in and made it work,” Muny says. “I was amazed by the fact that the day we moved into this building, every computer worked and all the phones worked. That kind of stuff our central office people spent an awful lot of time planning. That was huge.”

HOW TO REACH: Chemsultants International Inc., (440) 974-3080 or www.chemsultants.com

Published in Cleveland
Monday, 25 June 2007 20:00

Going to the ’Net

Advertising real estate via a book just wasn’t cutting it for Real Living Realty One anymore, so the company expanded its reach by launching RealtyOne.com The Magazine.

The magazine is available on newsstands and provides links to Realty One’s Web site for more information.

“You use the Net for its advantage, which is way more information and pictures,” says Barbara Ann Reynolds, president of Real Living Realty One. “You use print also as an adjunct and support to the Internet.”

Reynolds says the company started investigating the benefits of using the Internet in the late 1990s. Although the use of the Internet as an advertising tool seems like a no-brainer, Reynolds says that wasn’t the case: Any time you are transforming the way you have traditionally communicated to a consumer, there are questions surrounding a change.

“Is it going to be accepted?” she says. “Is the public going to be ready for this? Do they just as well want print and don’t care? Those are all challenges.”

Reynolds says she first tried to get everyone internally on the same page by spending a lot of time in focus groups with employees and agents, who have day-today contact with customers. It took more than a year of engaging people in what the future would look like, what was happening in other industries with technology and how the company might adapt before she made a move.

“At the time, there were a great many that considered the Internet a threat to Realtors,” she says.

Fast forward to 2007, when Reynolds looked at Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom to see how they use their catalogs and the Internet to market their products.

“If you look at any of those catalogs, at the bottom, it directs you to the Net,” she says. “It is from that I am taking a retail approach, also knowing full well there is a good marriage between print and Internet. We tend to want to make it exclusively the Internet or exclusively print, and it’s both.”

Reynolds says the pluses of using the Internet to market far outweigh the minuses because it is a great way to educate customers, and “an educated consumer is your best customer in the end,” she says.

Several years ago, in an effort to understand what the customer was thinking, Real Living Realty One invested in a large amount of consumer research. And it went a step further and did individual interviews with people who used the services of its competitors.

“We always stay out in front of our competition,” Reynolds says. “Whatever that takes.”

And for companies that have not yet fully embraced the Internet, Reynolds has this advice: Look at it as if it were the opening of the company’s biggest store.

“I would say, when you are doing a Web site, consider it your No. 1 biggest store because it has everything in it,” she says. “It’s the Wal-Mart superstore of any company. It is opening the doors of your company to a broad reach. If you look at the Internet as every little piece is a different department, you can go to every department.”

Overall, Reynolds said using the Internet heavily to market properties was an evolution for Real Living Realty One.

“The Internet offers so much to the public,” she says. “There is still a person that lingers with print, but it helps them realize print is great, but go to the Net because there are so many more things we can offer you on the Internet, so much more information in real time and so much content. It is bridging those two things and making sure we are supporting 100 percent of the public.”

HOW TO REACH: Real Living Realty One, (866) 438-7315 or http://realtyone.realliving.com

The Digital Age

Real Living Realty One isn’t only using the Internet as a way of reinventing its marketing campaign; it has also invested in billboards, including the 180-foot by 40-foot former “Goodyear” board above I-77 and I-480 to advertise realtyone.com.

The company is also using digital billboards, which can change messages instantly, according to Barbara Reynolds, president of Real Living Realty One.

But companies should be ready to pay to advertise on the signs. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Clear Channel division President Bill Platko says that depending on the amount of time a billboard is rented, prices could range from $8,000 to $10,000, or even up to $30,000.

Reynolds says that although electronic boards are more expensive than most traditional billboards, the flexibility makes it worth the cost for Real Living Realty One.

“The idea that we have the same message up for all that time is not as nearly as exciting as being able to change it,” she says. “It’s real time.”

“On the way to work, we could say, ‘Have a great day, go to realtyone.com.’ On the way home we can say, ‘Did you go to realtyone.com today?’”

Published in Cleveland
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