Start-up firm banks on vertical search to reach electronics pros

By Published on .

Founded April 2002 in Grand Junction, Colo., Canyon Electronics & Cables entered the electronics component industry as a small start-up in a crowded manufacturing niche with entrenched competitors. The company specializes in producing custom cables, wire harnesses, printed circuit boards and electromechanical accessories.

"The original business plan called for us to serve manufacturing customers within a 500-mile radius of Grand Junction," said Steve Kramer, Canyon Electronics VP and founder. "It quickly became apparent, however, that we needed to expand beyond that radius in order to grow the business."

The company's marketing efforts focused on direct mail and identifying potential customers through local Chambers of Commerce in their region. "Initially, we tried a variety of Web-based listing companies to expand the customer base and accelerate the sales cycle," Kramer said. "But these listings were largely ineffective in generating customer inquiries and leads. I started investigating additional methods of reaching potential customers through various means, including general purpose search engines. The engineering vertical search company GlobalSpec kept coming up, so I decided to pursue the company further."

GlobalSpec delivers more than 2.4 million registered engineers, scientists and purchasing executives in the electronics and other manufacturing industries, said Guy Maser, GlobalSpec VP-marketing. "In total, we host approximately 76,000 supplier catalogs and more than 95 million parts on our site. Engineers can find what they're looking for by the exact specifications of the product."

Canyon signed up with GlobalSpec and listed its entire product catalog on the site. When a design engineer identifies a Canyon part as a potential fit for a project, the site provides the engineer with detailed information on the company through an electronic brochure, complete specification products sheets and announcements of new products. If interested, the engineer can then e-mail or print out the product information or submit a request for quote (RFQ)-all activities that GlobalSpec tracks and reports for Canyon.

"The RFQ shows the engineer's broad product specifications so that the company's sales team can recommend alternatives and upgrades," Maser said. "And our tracking reports show what competitors the engineer was also considering and allows the company to filter leads and distribute them to the sales team."

The cost for using GlobalSpec ranges "anywhere from $3,200 to $100,000-plus, depending on the level of service a company signs up for," Maser said. The company also offers sponsorship of its e-newsletter and sponsored search ads on the Engineers Web, its engineering-filtered version of a Web search engine.

Canyon Electronics has grown quickly since it partnered with GlobalSpec, Kramer said. "I began receiving inquiries from qualified prospects almost immediately, and started closing sales in about 60 days," he said.

According to Kramer, Canyon Electronics acquired $300,000 in new contracts in its first year with GlobalSpec, helping total revenues skyrocket to $845,000 in 2004 from $60,000 in 2002. "In that time, we broadened our reach into multiple industries and acquired both national and international customers," Kramer said.

The quick ROI helped take Canyon from a start-up to an established player, Kramer said, and helped the company to expand from three employees to more than 20.

Most Popular
In this article: