Mastering the Pressure of Marketing
It was two years after Graeme Cooper took over his business Tecpro that it hit. He still remembers it vividly.
“It was the strangest thing. We had just taken out a second mortgage and then we lost our second biggest customer — about 25 per cent of our business. Something just clicked in my brain,’’ he said.
“My brain was saying: ‘Oh poor Michelle (his wife). She can’t accept that we are going to lose everything’. I walked up and down in the kitchen in the early hours of the morning thinking how I was going to top myself.”
Graeme was diagnosed with depression. But just as quickly as he went to those dark places, he came out of it. He considers himself lucky, and that his recovery helped his business grow for the last 15 years.
“I sort of snapped out of it. Things weren’t as bad as I thought and I clicked back in. It forced me to diversify and get a bigger customer base so. If one falls over, there is another one in its place.”
Tecpro deals in hoses, nozzles, spray systems and water cutting.
In the early days it sold retail products through Mitre 10 and BBC Hardware. But as Bunnings emerged, with its product sources, Graeme had to find other business.
As part of his recovery, he walked away from retail altogether and concentrated on industrial solutions, especially in mining and food production. But as he progressed, he realised challenges continued. One of them was marketing.
“I looked at Gerry Harvey. He is marketing all the time. With our business we would market when things got slow. When we were busy we would stop sales and marketing because we didn’t have time.”
Though he loved the sales side of his business, Graeme outsourced to Sonja van den Bosch’s Twin Life Marketing. She is still on retainer today. “It made a big difference to our business,” he says.
And it has grown, though with mainly imported products the falling Aussie dollar is biting into profits.
“This year we had our first shipping container of goods brought in. When we started we had an airfreight shipment once a month. It grew to a point of having sea-freight shipments, but now we bring in container-loads. It causes cashflow problems, because there’s more money in the stock.”
The Castle Hill-based business now has 12 staff and Graeme never forgets the stress, with the knowledge it can be all-consuming.
“Michelle sometimes says when we bought the business it was like a third person entering the marriage.”
The good thing is they have learned through tough times how to manage the stress, and Tecpro.
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