Business Growth Collaborative Program Puts Concord Awning & Canvas on Path to Success
The year was 1919 when Concord Awning & Canvas, now located in Bow, New Hampshire, began in business. Fast forward to 2010 when Denise and Peter Sandberg sought to run their own company and decided to purchase Concord Awning & Canvas.
“Almost everything we offer is made at our facility,” said Denise Sandberg, President and Owner of Concord Awning & Canvas. “We stitch, fabricate, weld and paint everything ourselves. The only products we sell that are not made completely by us are our retractable awnings and drop-down motorized screens. Those come from trusted suppliers and are both made in the USA.”
Concord Awning & Canvas is housed in a 6,000 square foot facility with 9 employees and looking to expand to 12 in the future. The company caters to residential, commercial, industrial and military markets. “We stand by all our work, from design through fabrication and installation with a 100 percent guarantee on workmanship.” said Peter Sandberg, Vice President and Owner of Concord Awning & Canvas.
“When we purchased Concord Awning, we recognized it needed some upgrades. There were no standard operating procedures, no pricing tools, an antiquated computer system, a paper-based system to track sales, and the company’s static website was not focused on bringing in new customers.” said Peter Sandberg.
“About 5 years into running the company our largest customer took their business in-house and hired 3 of our employees,” said Denise Sandberg. “We realized from the start that having one disproportionately large customer was not a good long-term plan for our business. When that customer made their decision to leave, we knew we had to accelerate our existing plan of expanding more into commercial and industrial markets to balance out the seasonality of the awning portion of our business.”
Denise and Peter attended the NH MEP “5 Steps to Sustain Business Growth Executive Information Session.” It was designed specifically for small and medium-sized manufacturers to accelerate and sustain business growth with cost-effective approaches for customer retention and expansion. After the information session Peter signed up for an in-depth series of 6 business growth and strategic marketing workshops put on by NH MEP called the “Business Growth Collaborative Program.”
Concord Awning & Canvas attended the Business Growth Collaborative Program with 5 other companies. The program gave them the ability to identify the right markets to target, and how to obtain customers in those markets. They also learned how to set smart goals, hone their elevator pitch, create and send out e-Surveys, analyze website metrics, learn the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), create and send out e-Newsletters, develop sales forecasts, create sales and marketing action plans and more.
“What I liked best was the collaboration,” said Peter Sandberg. “It helped each of us find out about each other’s challenges and discuss how we could overcome them.”
“The Business Growth Collaborative Program helped us increase our annual sales by over 20% from the prior year and also surpassed where we were when our biggest customer left,” said Denise Sandberg. “With the increase in growth we invested in a CRM program to better track new opportunities and we brought on a new hire to devote more resources to the sales process.”
We upgraded the Concord Awning web site and unveiled our new look in August 2019. The new site is mobile friendly, designed for SEO and will help to bring in new opportunities. Our Shade Sail division, New England Shade Sails, will be launching its own web site later in 2019. We are working on a third product division that focuses on industrial and military customers, to design, prototype and fabricate new custom covers for protection of machinery, electronics and people.
The following results for Concord Awning & Canvas can be credited to having gone through the NH MEP Business Growth Collaborative Program:
- $100,000 in new sales over the last 12 months
- Retained sales of $75,000 over the last 12 months that otherwise would have been lost
- Added 2 new full-time employees over the last 12 months
- Retained 1 job over the last 12 months
- Increased investment of $25,000 in new products or processes over the last 12 months
- Increased investment of $10,000 in plant or equipment over the last 12 months
- Increased investment of $5,000 in information systems or software over the last 12 months
- Increased investment of $5,000 in workforce practices or employee skills over the last 12 months
- Increased investment of $20,000 in other areas of business over the last 12 months
“We continue to use the fundamentals learned in the Business Growth Collaborative Program to be certain we are focused on the right customers and products. We look at profitability, long term relationships, and where we provide what others cannot which is expertise in design. My group still meets quarterly, facilitated by Eric Basta, NH MEP Project Manager, where we continue to check in, share new ideas, hold each other accountable and celebrate achievements. NH MEP’s Business Growth Collaborative Program was a terrific investment of my time that continues to pay dividends, and I’d highly recommend it.”
– Peter Sandberg, Vice President and Owner, Concord Awning & Canvas