Most of the technology that we take for granted would be useless without the connections made by wires and cables, and that makes the solutions provided by Wisconsin-based IEWC essential. Likewise, it’s the connections IEWC creates with its customers that have been responsible for the company’s continued success over the years, and CEO David Nestingen says the company is never finished improving its customer service to ensure those connections remain strong. By bringing what he calls the “Your Team” approach to the solutions it provides, IEWC makes customers feel like it is a member of their own teams.
For more than 50 years, IEWC has concentrated on providing best-in-class wire, cable and wire management solutions to a broad selection of OEM customers. OEMs make up nearly 90 percent of the company’s customer base, although in recent years IEWC has branched out into providing products for the broadcast and communications sectors.
Unlike many of IEWC’s competitors, Nestingen notes, IEWC concentrates specifically on wire, cable and wire management products, rather than having those products as a subset of a much larger product line. Nestingen says the fact that the company specializes in wire, cable and wire management solutions means customers are confident that the company knows those products inside and out. This technical expertise has allowed IEWC to build many long-term partnerships with numerous customers around the world.
Even with the many advantages that have made IEWC a leader in the wire, cable and wire management arena, Nestingen explains the company has never been content to rest on its laurels and take its success for granted.
Continuous improvement is the name of the game for the company, and a number of recent initiatives have it positioned for even greater success in the future. Not only is IEWC strengthening the connections it has with existing customers, Nestingen says, but the company is putting itself in position to make new ones that will last just as long.
Nestingen explains that the key differentiator between IEWC and its competition is the “intense and passionate” customer service IEWC provides. He stresses that the technical application expertise the company’s internal staff can bring to its customers makes IEWC’s people indispensable for them.
The company refers to this approach as the “Your Team” philosophy, because it means IEWC makes customers feel like it is a member of their own teams.
IEWC backs up this philosophy with extremely strong processes, high-quality information systems and a breadth of products that are virtually unmatched in the industry, Nestingen says. “It gives us an opportunity to be a one-stop shop,” he says.
Just as technology continues to push new and improved products out into the marketplace, IEWC continues to push itself to effect internal improvements that will make it an even better partner to its customers. “We do a lot of internal process improvement, and that helps our own internal efficiency and helps us to be a competitive player in the marketplace on the basis of our cost structure,” Nestingen says.
One of the most recent improvements made within IEWC has been a change in the way the company approaches potential customers. Nestingen says the company took a one-size-fits-all approach in the past, but today the company’s marketing department is taking a more refined approach and getting to understand unique customers’ needs from a more specific perspective. Nestingen says the addition of Director of Marketing, Joe Crum has been a significant boost for the company’s efforts in that regard.
The improved marketing efforts also strengthened the company’s relationships with its customers and suppliers. Nestingen says IEWC is always looking for channel partners who could benefit from partnering with a company of IEWC’s size and scope, and its new marketing approach has been helpful in doing so.
Another area where the company is focusing its improvement efforts is the Internet. Nestingen says the specialized knowledge IEWC has in its niche gives it a strong platform on which to build its web presence.
“At some point, you need to make the conscious decision to deepen your investment in your digital functionality, or you’re going to be on a path to get bumped out of the industry,” he says.
Even though the company continues to make improvements, it still faces some significant challenges due to the condition of the economy and the industry. The most significant challenge at the moment is finding the right talent, Nestingen says.
Unemployment has been on the decline and companies throughout the industry have ramped up their efforts to hire the best and the brightest. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the challenges to bring in the talent we need to sustain our growth,” Nestingen says.
Along with the competition for the best of the talent pool, IEWC additionally has to contend with the volatility in the marketplace and the uncertainty that accompanies it.
“Every time you think you hear a good note about the economy, you hear another note that gives you pause,” Nestingen says. “I feel like, ever since the 1999 tech bubble burst, our economy has been a bumpy road.”
Although the economy remains uncertain, IEWC started 2015 on a strong note, sales-wise. According to Nestingen, the company is confident that its well-known reputation for passionate customer service will help the operation continue to draw in new business.
“We historically have felt like we have a strong story to tell,” he explains. “In this very competitive market space we are able to differentiate.”
Nestingen says the future looks strong for IEWC, but it will require some significant investment to reach the next level. “Growth is certainly the name of the game, and it’s going to take people and talent and training to do that,” he says.
Some of the company’s most important customers are planning to expand globally, and as a mid-sized company, IEWC is in a dangerous place from an efficiency standpoint to meet this increased global demand. Nestingen says the company will need to grow in order to maintain the level of efficiency its customers need.
Nestingen explains that the company is open to the idea of branching out into new customer bases, and he believes this could happen sooner rather than later, given the company’s growth aspirations. To reach its vision IEWC will need to add more resources, and that includes finding new partners that could help it grow. “We have very strong growth aspirations, both organic and through acquisition,” Nestingen says. “I think there’s reasonable chances that through acquisitions we could be in adjacent areas.”