Last Tuesday, the Thunderbird Technology Business Club played host to Greg Heiland, who was on campus to talk about Life Lessons: Building a Personal Brand. Mr. Heiland has been in the clean-room consumables industry for 28 years. In 2002, he founded Valutek which was, and still is, a unique business model where the convenience of all core products is offered in one brand.
While personal branding was a great part of what Mr. Heiland imparted to the student audience, he also spoke of B2B branding. He talked about the importance of branding and how its a differentiator for Valutek. The company was originally a distributor for other clean room consumables manufacturers but after the dot com bust in the early 2000s, it started selling clean room consumables with its own brand. This despite the fact that the company doesn’t manufacture any of the products save one.
The session was extremely popular with students and they came away with great insights. Howard Chao ’14, was particularly interested in how Mr. Heiland went about building Valuetek’s brand, particularly through differentiators such as video blogs and white papers. Howard, who has recently partnered with other T-birds for an entrepreneurial venture, was also drawn to Mr. Heiland’s explanation of Valutek’s logo revolution, with its current logo having 8 colors, each of represents a main Valutek product line.
Patrick Mah ’14, was struck by Mr. Heiland’s energy as well as his application of unconventional ways of thinking to his very conventional industry, by constantly thinking and adopting methods from other industries. He felt that it was an original and insightful perspective on how a manufacturer was able to take advantage of cost savings int he supply chain (by cutting out the distributor) and using the excess margin to develop a strong brand through packaging, social media (via videos, online Q&A, and online education), event marketing (trade shows and on site education).
Branding of the type above, has allowed Valutek to implement the direct to customer business model with customers being able to order their products online. This becomes particularly relevant in a B2B context, with commodity product being sold to commodity making manufacturers – which in Valutek’s case is clean room gloves, bouffants, etc being sold to semi-conductor manufacturers.