DUTTON — Instead of relying on a traditional salesforce to sell its products, GR-X Manufacturing LLC aims to grow its business primarily through marketing on the internet.
The Dutton-based manufacturer of material handling equipment such as depalletizers, palletizers and spin trimmers, subscribes to a simple sales philosophy that focuses on online marketing, and cuts out unnecessary steps in the process, said President Jerry Pollard.
“Most engineers and project managers, when they’re given a project, the first place they go is the internet,” Pollard said. “The more people we can drive to our website, the more successful we will be. Usually when you talk to someone doing (business) online, it’s more consumer goods and not so much industrial products.”
To drive sales to its website, GR-X Manufacturing invests heavily in Google AdWords and tracking its analytics. The company also produces standard lines of equipment and refrains from customized work in a move to streamline its ordering and production, Pollard said.
Moreover, the company prices its equipment with spec sheets instead of providing customers with quotes, which can take several days as opposed to 10 minutes, Pollard said.
GR-X Manufacturing formed less than a year ago after a group of employees acquired key product lines from Dutton-based Automatic Inspection Systems Inc., which shuttered its operations in 2015 due to financial hardship.
The company currently employs eight workers from its 25,000-square-foot facility, Pollard said.
While the company’s equipment can be used in virtually any industry that packages a product, GR-X plans to focus on growing its presence among craft beverage producers and the blow molding industry.
As part of that strategy, the company manned a booth earlier this month in Philadelphia at the BeerExpo America trade show, a part of the annual Craft Brewers Conference sponsored by the Brewers Association.
“We see that as a big growth opportunity for us,” Pollard said of the craft beer industry. “We wanted to get into the show and get some more exposure in that industry. We had sold some units already but being there gave us more credibility in the industry, so hopefully we’ll be looking to sell more of those units.”
Pollard also sees a lot of growth potential in the craft spirits sector, especially as the brewing industry becomes more saturated.
“The spirits industry is going to be the next industry that’s like the craft brew industry was,” he said. “We think that will take up some of the slack.”
Based on its success at the Craft Brewers Conference this year, GR-X Manufacturing plans to attend additional trade shows starting in November with the Pack Expo International, which is put on by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI).
In addition to tapping into the craft beverage sector, GR-X also plans to go deeper within the blow molding industry, which includes companies that produce a variety of plastic containers such as bottles for milk and detergent.
Because of the diverse industries its equipment can serve, Pollard remains positive about GR-X’s growth potential in the coming years.
The global market for packaging machinery is expected to reach $43.7 billion by 2019, up approximately 14 percent from $38.5 billion in 2014, according to an industry report published by PMMI.
Experts predict that the Asia-Pacific region will generate the bulk of that growth, increasing at a 4.3 percent compound annual growth rate, according to the report. That compares to the 1.4 percent compound annual growth rate that experts predict for North America and South America.
While it is still in its first year of operation, GR-X Manufacturing plans to generate sales of $1 million, Pollard said. The company currently serves customers throughout the continental U.S.
Since it is early in its operation, the company doesn’t have a specific growth target and prefers to not tie itself to sales numbers.
“It’d be pretty easy to increase 50 percent or even double (sales), but we’re not concerned about that,” Pollard said. “We just figure if we build good equipment that we’re happy with then the customer is going to be happy with it and they’re going to come back. Our customers are going to be our best salespeople because they will talk to their other plants and their peers. We want our equipment to speak for itself.”
Made In Michigan: Having just launched its operations less than a year ago, Dutton-based startup GR-X Manufacturing LLC plans to drive its business through a simple sales strategy that relies on its website, rather than a traditional salesforce. The company, which manufactures a variety of material handling equipment, plans to target the craft beer and blow molding industries.