Heavy Metal Thunder
A motorcycle accessories company is cruising after its FSB makeover.
(FORTUNE Small Business) – THE DOBER CLAN WAS IN HIGH SPIRITS WHEN FSB caught up with them just as they were leaving for a weeklong biker rally in Nevada. Matriarch Marilyn Dober says revenues at the family's profitable motorcycle windscreen business, Windvest, are up about $40,000 (15%) since last September, when this magazine gave the company a makeover.
The new windscreen models are selling well, says Marilyn's son Doug, who mainly runs the company, based in Campbell, Calif., now that his father, Norm, is semiretired. Doug benefited from the sound management advice of makeover consultant Rolanda Pollard, a professor of organization psychology at nearby San Jose State. After Pollard counseled Doug, a self-confessed control freak, on the fine art of delegation, he trained an employee to follow up on customer complaints. Doug now lets his sister Tami handle relationships with many of Windvest's retailers. "It really made a difference," says Doug. "I've freed myself up to spend a lot more time working with new distributors."
Last year Marilyn expressed concern that she'd be out of a job if she delegated too much to other family members. She's not worried now. "I was out sick for a month," she says. "Other people picked up the slack. And when I got back there was plenty for me to do." Marilyn still keeps the books at Windvest and has recently added graphic design and advertising to her portfolio.
The Dobers have also made strides in optimizing their network of distributors. Doug says he's following marketing expert Melanie Schmidt's advice to gather data on why some distributors are more successful than others and then use those lessons to educate the laggards. "I'm a teacher now," says Doug proudly.
Windvest has made only limited progress in lowering its manufacturing costs. The Dobers haven't yet followed up on supply-chain expert Gordon Von Bretten's suggestion that they manufacture parts in nearby Mexico. But they are working on diversifying their existing supply chain. "I've been dealing with a second plastics supplier, which has been one of our bigger costs," says Doug. "But we haven't done a lot of bargaining with our suppliers, even though that's still our goal."
Windvest's success has allowed Doug, an enthusiastic bachelor, to realize his dream of buying a deluxe party trailer for use at motorcycle rallies. "It's a 22-footer," he crows. "Very cool." That means lots of cool parties. And as Doug reminded us last year, parties are good for business--and your love life.
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For more on Windvest, got to windvest.com.