Manufacturing in North America has never been more challenging. Not only are manufacturers competing with cheap imports, they’re also facing steep competition at home. To stand out and win in a very competitive market requires a shift in attitude.
Almag Aluminum has differentiated their brand based on speed. Bob Peacock, President of Almag Aluminum explains, “We are the emergency department for our industry. If you have to go to the emergency department at the hospital and then have to wait twelve hours, that’s a big problem. So we think the same way. We want to be in a position when a customer comes to us and needs something quickly, we want to react and respond to that.”
Almag is a family-owned manufacturer serving customers throughout North America. They are a single-source supplier for aluminum extrusion projects that range from design assistance and 3D prototyping to complex, fabricated finished parts.
But a core differentiator for their brand is their ability to respond and deliver faster than the competition.
Speed is an attitude
Bob argues that Almag’s approach is grounded in an attitude. He explains, “Our attitude is if we have more than four or five days of backlog, it’s too much. We will work to reduce that. Whereas, most companies if they have less than two weeks of work in the backlog they get very concerned.”
It’s all about perspective. What’s a crisis for one company is an opportunity for another. Almag has the attitude that the faster they can react, the better they are.
Speed is a niche
Almag focuses on delivering faster, because there is a market for highly responsive aluminum extruders.
Bob says, “We recognize there are some industries and some customers that live and die by their ability to turn things around quickly. So if we can support them in that, we’re going to get their business.”
A big part of Almag’s market is commoditized and driven by price. But by understanding what their customers really want creates an opportunity to specialize, and serve a niche that is less price sensitive.
Speed requires strategic choices
The right attitude will only take your brand so far. To create a sustainable competitive advantage that differentiates your brand requires strategic choices.
Almag is able to serve their niche by making strategic choices on how they organize and manage their business. “We really focus on speed, and it’s often more expensive to do that. This means we work a little bit more overtime. We often have excess capacity, and we never want to be sold out. So when you take your fixed costs, and allocate them over the hours you are working, we are generally working fewer hours than most people in our industry. Just cause we want that time available so that if somebody needs something quickly we can turn it on, and we have the capacity and space to do that,” says Bob.
It’s these choices coupled with the company’s core skills and assets that enable Almag to respond faster than anyone else.
Speed is a brand promise
Focusing on a niche is a commitment. Almag positions their brand as the emergency department for their industry. It’s a bold claim, but they back it up with the attitude, systems and capabilities to deliver on it.
Differentiating your brand in a competitive market requires similar choices. Who do you serve? How are you differentiating your brand from the competition? What can you do better than anyone else?
Sticky Brands make strategic choices to stand out, and be their customers’ first choice.