September 22, 2008

Web Boosts Troughs in Business Cycle

By Doran, Ryan

According to industry insiders, manufacturers are embracing the Internet to expand into new markets and beyond domestic shores, enabling them to court that most vaunted of business modifiers: recessionproof.

"Manufacturing companies are leveraging their business with the Internet," said Linda Rigano, director of strategic alliances for ThomasNet.

Manhattan-based ThomasNet is a major supplier of Internet marketing solutions to industrial suppliers.

Rigano said 80 percent of manufacturing businesses Web sites fail to alert a possible client if he or she is in the right place among the Web's 67,000 product categories.

OEM Controls of Shelton, a family-owned and operated manufacturer, sought professional assistance for its Web layout last November.

"We wanted to increase our visibility through the search engines, and to help customers and prospects easily find the products and services that they were looking for on our site," said Ken Fried, marketing communications specialist at OEM Controls. "The result has been a 20 percent increase in monthly visitors over the past 10 months."

According to Rigano, many companies start out as very specific parts manufacturers and don't consider how these same parts can apply to alternate industries.

"These are custom businesses, but they can be more if they gave access to markets that can use their applications," said Rigano.

According to Art Lukach, president of Micromold Products in Yonkers, N.Y., Micromold's online catalogue has brought the company, a self-proclaimed small player, into the big leagues.

"We now have a huge contract with an aerospace manufacturer," said Lukach.

According to Lukach, this is just one example of an operation that has approached his company solely on the basis of the Web site.

"It's not an industry we would have gone after in any shape or form in the past," said Lukach.

Micromold's formerly domestic operation has found clients via the Web in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, China, Hungary, Dubai, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Peru, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Prior to Micormold's new Web presence, it was expanding 6 to 8 percent each year. That number has in the past two years doubled.

"Before our Web catalogue, nobody would have known how or where they could've found us," said Lukach. "There would have been no way. We had a little place-holder Web site. We're very much a niche player; the segments are small enough that it doesn't attract a lot of competition."

Lukach said the largest value of the company's Web layout is its lucidity.

"People can take one quick look and see if they're in the right ball park," said Lukach.

That lucidity has resulted in scenarios like a multibillion- dollar Dutch company calling Lukach for specifically designed water tanks.

Copyright Westfair Communications Aug 25, 2008

(c) 2008 Fairfield County Business Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.