Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre

Auto Flex Next Level Case Study

The Innovation Centre is proud to announce the latest company we have worked with to rebrand using our Next Level funding to increase their attractiveness to potential customers and distributors.  Last week autoflexsuspensions.com was launched which was a joint effort between LBC Trailers, Imaginarium Studio, TBay IT, and the Innovation Centre.

The project was first initiated when the Innovation Centre reached out to LBC Trailers who manufacture the Auto Flex Suspension system for pick-up trucks.  The technology instantly caught the eye of our organization as an innovative product with mass appeal we need to promote to get sales outside of Thunder Bay.  I sat down with the guys at LBC Trailers to discover their product, its primary features and benefits and how we communicate them to customers to develop their Next Level application.  The Next Level grant allows them to spend $0.20 on the dollar toward an investment in their company to assist in the commercialization or acceleration of product sales.  We got a baseline of where the company is today and where it needs to go with this investment.  The goal of this brand building is to increase sales by 400% and receive a 30,114% return on investment.  Although this may seem like a lofty goal, this is very well obtainable with combing other activities the company is actively pursuing.  I recommended key objectives we are looking to overcome with the funding such as website, mobile site, e-commerce capability, and video.

The next step was to obtain quotes for the proposal from qualified contractors to perform the work.  We reached out to several parties to explain what the company was looking to do with its budget.  I knew it was a great product personally, but after seeing the reaction of  contractors it confirmed my thoughts.  After reviewing the initial quotes from contractors with the Auto Flex owners were thinking about just doing the website with e-commerce.  I helped explain that we may as well use the entire grant program to its fullest and that if we had video content we would also pull quality product shots to populate the website with.  For those of you who aren’t aware, video content is going to be crucial to quickly explain your product as many people don’t read anymore (maybe I should start a video blog…), see my blog about the rising importance of corporate video.  I recommended to Dereck and Paul Legros of Auto Flex that we should sit down with the good folks at Imaginarium just to see what they can do.  Milosz and Piotr’s professionalism and quality of previous work had an impact on the owners and quickly became an easy decision that video would be a key element to communicating the benefits.  See the video for yourself!

The final step was solidifying the web designer to pull all the graphic material together.  Mark at TBayIT was very thorough at explaining his quote, value proposition, and was patient with the non-technical business owners by integrating easy to use tools to manage the company’s website with reasonable on-going maintenance fees.  Mark’s experience with mobile web content was also a crucial piece of the puzzle for when people see the product on the road a smartphone device will be right on hand to capture sales.

After deciding on the contractors I wrote up the grant and all that was left to do was a signature from the crew at Auto Flex.  The grant was quickly approved and work began as we headed towards a tight deadline before the October 30 SEMA automotive show, the largest aftermarket auto show in the world.

On the Innovation Centre front, I worked hands on with LBC Trailers to negotiate with and select contractors, develop web copy/content, secure pricing and shipping, tabs required for website, project managed both contractors to hit deadlines and amalgamate both of their work to create the final product, and developed a go-forward marketing strategy.  The next steps include a full audit of their tradeshow and sales materials as well as an organizational and production review of how to scale their business.

See below for before and after shots of the Auto Flex website and the outcome from the funding.

Auto Flex Website Before Next Level

Auto Flex Before Next Level

Auto Flex Website After Next Level

Auto Flex After Next Level

Imaginarium on set shooting the Auto Flex video

Imaginarium working with Auto Flex

Auto Flex Air Ride Suspension Results

Since completing the Air Ride Suspension next level project, they have done very well.  Their sales have nearly tripled, they've appeared on several customer forums, have risen in Google search engine rankings to be found organically more often by those searching for air ride suspensions, they have been featured on the front cover and a multiple page spread in TrailerLife Magazine, Mr.Truck, covered by CBC Radio & Northern Ontario Business, and a 5 part series of The Fast Lane Truck - All while expanding their distribution network.

Posted in Innovation by Nick Kolobutin on 10/29/2012 9:30:31 AM
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