Next up in Strategy House’s line up up Candid Conversations is Jason Kazar, VP of Sales and Customer Service at Power Test (click here for the full Candid Conversation). During our chat, he gives us the inside scoop on how Power Test succeeds as global company, how they’re planning to double in growth, and some of the challenges they’re facing. He also touches on how his background in technology has helped Power Test remain relevant in the digital age. Read on for the highlights of the conversation.
Adapting To The New Buyer’s Journey
As a global team based in Wisconsin and abroad in places like Russia and Egypt, Power Test’s representatives handle their products on a ground level - speaking the language, getting to know the people and meeting face to face with customers. As important as nurturing those relationships is, doing so virtually is just as crucial.
The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically in the 43 years since Power Test was founded. We’re seeing more and more people looking online for information before reaching out to a salesperson meaning a solid online presence is key in moving potential customers along in their journey.
With 20 years experience in telecom and IT, Jason joked he came from the future and landed in the past entering the manufacturing industry. Now he’s applying that future knowledge to propel Power Test forward as an internationally selling company by positioning their branding, marketing, and online presence.
With two years under his belt at Power Test Kazar noted, “This is as old as school as it gets. We do welding, these guys work with their hands, so technology is just starting to claw its way into our industry. When I came here I wanted to bring that forward kicking and screaming. We've done a lot of really compelling work, a lot of really rewarding work and the ROI is truly there when it comes to technology and metrics and those kind of things in bringing the future to today from a technology perspective.”
From Tech To Manufacturing
Before Power Test, Jason owned his own business for 15+ years selling internet and telecom services to business. After a while though, he was ready to be involved in something in a more hands on - and that’s exactly what he got landing a position in manufacturing.
“With manufacturing we own everything from start to finish. We create it in engineering, create the drawings, we create the actual product here, we ship it out, we service it, we commission it, 40 years later in some cases we replace it with new stuff. So it's really cool and it's something I hadn't been exposed to in the past”, he said of his transition.
The culture is what he loves most about Power Test. “Our culture is everywhere. Its people first, it's doing the right things always, it's no excuses. One of our values is ‘ski with your grandkids when you’re 77’.”
Power Test’s culture extends beyond company handbook values too. They take care about their people’s health physically, mentally and financially. From personal trainers and an employee gym to bonuses, Jason strives to help employees grow and prosper.
To put it in his own words, “It can't be forced. The culture is either real or it’s not. This is a company where the culture is real and it’s forced because our people have commonality. Morality wise we think the same, it’s not forced at all. ”
Talent Attraction and Retention
Having acquired a business in Iowa last year and taking the steps to move production to their Sussex headquarters means talent attraction and retention is high priority. While some of new business’ current employees will be making the move to Wisconsin, there are still plenty of positions to fill. Jason and his team are taking their search online, but they don’t just want warm bodies they want true talent.
While it can be a challenge, they’ve found success using the typical job search avenues like LinkedIn and other reputable job boards as well as offering a $1,000 referral bonus to employees.
From a sales and service standpoint it can be even more tricky. The sales team travels often while the service team can expect to be traveling up to 50% of the time. “You could be in Kenosha or you could be in Kazakhstan. You’re going to travel. Our stuff is everywhere and it's tough to attract someone who is OK with being gone that much. Our biggest challenge is sales and service hiring as we grow hiring people that you know see a future in being on the road a lot. It’s a unique individual that does that.”
What the future holds for Power Test
With the new company they’ve acquired there are tons of new opportunities on the horizon for Power Test but an equal amount of challenges ahead in terms of growth. Looking ahead to the future of Power Test, Jason told us, “It's challenging but it's the kind of challenge that on a Sunday night makes you excited to get to work rather than fretful. So, that's what we're all excited about, how this company is going to grow.”Want more Candid Conversations? Take a look at all of our most recent ones here.