Bull Barn Fence Factory's Pivot from D2C to B2B

John McConnell

Episode 15

This week, Bill interviews John McConnell, founder and owner of Bull Barn Fence Factory in Blairsville, Pennsylvania. Bill and John discuss Bull Barn's transition from D2C to B2B and the growth that resulted in just a few years, as well as the importance of building strong relationships in business and choosing your product line with intentionality based on market needs.
 
Bull Barn Fence Factory manufactures high quality woven wire for farmers, ranchers, and livestock owners. Bull Barn is proud to provide manufacturing jobs to western Pennsylvania, and supports the strong agricultural roots in the region.

Episode Transcript

Bill: Thank you for joining the Missing Half podcast. I'm Bill Woods, your host, where we're discovering what's missing in B2B and manufacturing marketing. We're here today live from the Ascenso Tires warehouse in Stow, Ohio. As you can see, we're surrounded by a lot of tires, both large and small. And with us today is the marketing manager of Ascenso Tires. Annie Boyer. Annie, thank you for joining us today.

Annie: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Bill: Excellent. Well, thank you. So we've been working with Ascenso Tires and Tyres International before that for a number of years. And I wanted to start by just getting a little bit into your background. So you're newer here to a company that's been around a long, long time. But in the two years you've been here, you've been baptized by fire and this transition and growth. So maybe if you would talk a little bit about your educational background and maybe where you came from, because I think that also ties into why we maybe we could talk about the heritage you have in the tire industry and just start there and we'll just learn more about you.

Annie: Sure. Yeah. I went to school at Bowling Green State University. I actually started out as a marketing major, switched to public relations and then finished with a communications degree. So I took a lot of classes it just worked out that way. I was able to study abroad in France for my last semester. So that was that's an amazing experience to discover really, who you are as your final release before the real world.

Bill: Yeah. My daughter is advocating at least a year abroad to study art, and so I'm sure that will cost me a lot. Anyway, that's great, and I think that is an experience. Those are the type of experiences that really can shape you internationally and then you're now working with an international company. So that's kind of a neat transition.

Annie: Yeah, I learned early on the communication styles. I was told I have a very American accent and I need to slow down a little bit. So yeah, it was it was a great experience. And now working with an Indian company has really benefited that I'm kind of learning the cultural shifts and the communication styles. So yeah, it's great.

Bill: Excellent. So your background before the college experience, maybe there was some foreshadowing as to how we arrived in the auto and tire industry. Maybe talk a little bit about that heritage your family has in the tire business.

Annie: Yeah, my dad just retired from Bridgestone. He was there the last half of his career, he was in I.T. He actually graduated with an accounting degree, but found a passion in technology, infrastructure. So he he was there for a really long time. And it might have been the Bridgestone Invitational Golf Club seating that got me here. But it was yeah, it was a great industry to be in. And he just, you know, when I applied for this job, he was like, it's benefited me very well. And it's a growing industry and it's never going to go away anytime soon. So tires are needed on every facet. So yeah, it was a good encouragement from him.

Bill: Yeah. Ever since what, the invention of fire and the wheel, there's been certain industries that have stood the test of time and certainly wheels and tires are a big part of what keeps this economy going and keeps things moving, whether it's an agricultural tire, keeping the backbone of our country, moving with food production, or if it's the construction tires and some of the other things you guys have that keep building and road construction and just commerce moving. Yeah, I don't think you have to worry that the tire business is going away anytime soon. So that's a that's interesting. So one of the things we had, the interesting position of at the time Tyres International came to us, Mike came to me, and said, Hey, Bill, we need some help recruiting in-house marketing talent because we're just growing so fast. We need support. He didn't have the capacity or the resources to do it anymore because of his moving up in the company and extra responsibilities. So we actually helped recruit and hire you, which is kind of a neat story to see it all came full circle and now you're sitting on our podcast. So that's the we have, I guess, a vested interest in your career. But as you came in and this I think is an interesting topic, we could kind of discuss. You came in as a marketing manager and that didn't replace our services as an agency. It really was more about teamwork and support and working together. So how have you seen your role with the company and then working with us to really drive campaigns, content, social media, video, all of those things? What have you seen over the past two years?

Annie: Yeah, so I actually come from my past career. I was the only person marketing department in nonprofits. So having someone to talk to and strategize and think marketing and less business like with Mike who was just thinking, you know, maybe a little political about as we get to have creative conversations. And I think it's been a huge help. And even with the small stuff you guys helped with like posting on our website page, or Hey, can you translate this to a PDF because I don't have the software at the moment. Like even small stuff like that, but then then they can share ideas as well. I think it's a huge help. And you guys had the experience and background in manufacturing marketing, which I don't. So it’s been helping me grow in this role and learning the different facets of it and where we need to be in ten years and not just how to get something done tomorrow.

Bill: So we see strategy is a huge component and we can’t just go out and do things in marketing anymore. I mean, one of the things that's critical to our brand is, you know, in 1896 John Wanamaker, the father of modern advertising, said half or 50% of my advertising is wasted. He only wished he knew which half. And that's so much more true today because there's just an infinite number of possibilities and ways to approach it. And I think as we've seen Tyres International move to Ascenso Tires North America and that transition has been pretty amazing and fast and approaching that with an incorrect strategy could be costly or more costly and inefficient. So I think the collaboration we've been able to establish and working on the strategy first was super important and has really helped the growth and where we are today. So that's that's been exciting to see. When you look at Tyres International having been around for 50 years and as a distributor here in North America, and then you look at Ascenso while they're a new company, they're the family that owns Ascenso, has 30 plus years of manufacturing experience in the tire industry. It feels like and you can see why both companies came together because there should just be a tremendous output based on, you know, collectively 80 years of experience or however you want to do that math. Are you seeing that day to day as you watch some of your colleagues work together, both from the factory and then here from your distribution work here?

Annie: Yeah definitely, so we have so we have both the technical side and the sales side working together now. So we have people who are communicating from the plant in India saying this is where we want to go in the future. And the sales guys saying, well, this is where you should be going based off our customers needs and wants. So it's been a it's been a lot of communication, but it's gotten us really far. I think we're 700 plus SKUs now in four years, which is we're the largest growing our fastest growing tire manufacturer in the world. So I think we're in over 90 countries. So it’s not just in North America. So you get the feedback actually do communicate with our partners in Ireland and Australia and the UK and we kind of collaborate just like on the side in LinkedIn. But it's still, it's, it's great because small stuff like where do you get your tires hands and, and what are you putting at your trade shows or what kind of social media do you think is more important than others some of those things. So it's so it's really helped us kind of meld all the experiences together and to really push forward and to see where it leads.

Bill: We, my family, in the early 2000s owned about 14 John Deere dealerships, and we often found when we got together with the other dealers, we learned more than when we were talking sometimes to the manufacturer. And I think there's what you're describing, there's very important. You have your sales team here in North America, but also around the world that’s giving good market feedback. You have your technical manufacturing arm that is bringing in their feedback and it feels like with Ascenso they're listening to both sides and really trying to find the best path and the best like balance point for those things. And that probably is what is contributing to them being the fastest growing tire manufacturer in the world because you can't operate in any vacuum on the marketeting side or on the manufacturing side. You have to find that balance. So that's exciting to see. We also know that Ascenso has this credo, their tagline, mission statement, whatever it is, never stop rising. Can you talk about maybe how you see that every day and what that means here in North America to Ascenso. 

Annie: Yeah, definitely. I think honestly, it's very inspiring to like to look at that every day, which is awesome and I think it's just we're not just doing what everyone's doing. We're looking forward to what needs to happen in the future. Whether that's bias to radial or the the technology that we've been importing, that's seen a lot of traction and the steel belting and all that stuff.

Bill: Yeah. So when we look at so I have a personal interest in agriculture. I own a my family and I own a organic dairy farm. So like we actually have, full disclosure, we have some Ascenso Tires on our tractors. Yes, we paid for them. So this is not a paid program, a paid promo or whatever, but we have enjoyed those tires. But one of the things the point of this is agriculture around the world is very similar. And while there are cultural variances based on geography, climate, etc., people are just trying to grow food to feed their customers. So in specifically in the agricultural segment, I can see how you you're finding parallels in Ireland. I saw there was a recent a big event in Poland and the UK, Australia, certainly India because that's where they're from. The factory. So that's exciting to see. And I think I've been watching, I've been lurking on the social media of these different folks. I think we're starting to see that “never stop rising” really penetrate each distributor or dealer or distributor organization however that's termed in those countries really, really embody that. And I think that's a great credit to the leadership and to each member who’s really focused on that and receiving that inspiration every day. So that's that's exciting to see. So one of the things we like to talk about in this is this is the Missing Half podcast and we're trying to discover what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. So when you look at what you're doing in marketing today, for Ascenso and then maybe even compare and contrast that to your nonprofit work, what do you feel maybe a year or two ago was missing that you're now kind of fulfilling and doing? And we always like to talk about what's working and also what didn't work because let's be honest, it's marketing. It all doesn't work, right? We have to test, we have to experiment, we fail, we optimize and pick ourselves back up and try again. So what do you feel are any like missing components that you were observing in the past that you fulfilled, and then after that, maybe we'll pivot to what do you feel is still missing that is part of the future.

Annie: Yeah, I think there was not much of a marketing presence before I came to be completely honest. It was very much just B2B marketing being a distributor. But now we are the manufacturer there's a little more end user involvement and I think what has been working is almost using end user marketing to get the B2B sales. So while our digital ads and our sponsored ads are more end user targeted, it's that B2B, the sales guys, the distributors are going to see that and see that we're putting in the money and effort into marketing us as a company. So they see that and like, that gets us in the door. So we did our market mapping with you guys. So you are so they those names and numbers are in the sales guys' hands as well as in our ad. And so they see the ad and they get the call from the sales guy and they’re like, I know who you are. So it's kind of melding the two, which is a lot different than what we were doing before. I think also a social media presence wasn’t much before. I think it's kind of a goal of ours is to do something every day. Just to have something out there to keep the presence front of mind. And then also our sales guys want to use that stuff in their sales. They’ll share it or they'll take that graphics and give it to their distributor. They’ll say hey you should use this on your social media help you market our company. It's those are kind of the things that have been working that maybe were missing first.

Bill: No those are good points. So when you look at those things. So let's talk about branding Ascenso was brand new to the market. And one of our first initiatives was to get branding information out there. So it wasn't to sell SKU wasn't to sell whatever SKU this is, right? It was just to say, hey, we're Ascenso, never stop rising and specifically we’re in that R1 which for those of you aren’t tire folks that's the agricultural tire this this type of profile here but front and rear on a but the that was our first effort. And one of the things I felt that was really gratifying is you don't always get attribution to every marketing dollar you spend. But whenever we got the feedback from the sales team that whenever they were walking in and talking to people on the phone, email, in person at trade shows or polishing doorknobs because it still happens in the industrial segment, they were known, the people had seen the ads. People were aware of the brand in a very short amount of time, and I think that really helped tee up some of your trade show activities. Hopefully there was more volume of people into your trade show booths. So I think that was exciting to see that branding component take place. And one of the things we're seeing in the market is branding for B2B is now so important. If we're not in front of our clients on a consistent basis, we're going to miss the opportunity for that 95/5 opportunity and the 95/5e rule states that 95% of your market is not actively buying or looking to investigate a purchase. Only 5% is active in buying. The 95 we have to stay in front with branding so that whenever they move into the 5%, we're top of mind and a consideration for that buying event. So I think that was one of the initiatives we did that was really successful. And that we continue to do because branding is so important. We've extended that with your unique value proposition. And then also you guys had some independent testing done, which I'm not a tire scientist, so I can't go into a lot of detail and I don't think that's your space either. We just as marketers, we recognize the arrows were pointing up and our performance was good, so we want to tell the market, but that's another initiative we use. So I think we had a great marriage of branding and then getting into some more features, benefits, and more importantly than that, telling the story of the value of those tires. So that was that was very important. So and I think social media is also something that you mentioned that we we've done some work in. And you're right, we've gone to the end user. So we did a wonderful shoot with Vince, a farmer in northern Ohio. This gentleman has been farming for forever. Like I think he started with the first John Deere and now he has big John Deeres and beautiful tires, wonderful man, a rural cropper here in northern Ohio. And I think he told a valuable story that is very much an important part of marketing today, which is we can't just show the factory and the machines and can just show this beautiful warehouse with all these amazing tires in it. We have to show solutions. And that end user story with that solution was so important to, I think, kind of rounding out the the company's story this year. And it was great production value. The drone, beautiful day and I think Vince may wax the tractor every day. I don't know. It's a beautiful tractor, but it was just such an amazing event. But are you seeing those social media inputs really drive conversations, not only like in the office with the factory, with the sales team and then with distributors and possibly end users?

Annie: Yeah, definitely. I think that video, we got so much great content from it that we can use in almost every section of our marketing. So while yes, it looks very nice to have this gorgeous video production on our social media, we take that to the distributor. We're using that in our OEM prospects at the moment. And saying this is a real life testimonial of someone who's had it for two seasons who has testified that the tread doesn't look a day old is the insane thing. It has everything he wants with the dual mud breakers and how long he's been farming, he he knew his stuff better than I did. He knows some of the things he was saying. I was like, That's great. I don't know what it means, but it sounds great and it's stuff I have heard our production team talk about as I'm learning, I'm like, okay, this is I'm so glad I can match what our production team’s goal is to what the end user is saying. I think that's so important and those testimonials are kind of what’s driving our business right now, bringing those videos, those small snippets. And I know we talked about doing smaller like that for a good minute and a half video, but pulling some small things from that and expanding that beyond into construction and forestry, I think is just what's really going to put us on top as the value high quality tire that we are improving it.

Bill: Sure. Yeah, I think that's an important point. You know, one of the stories, it hasn't been told yet and it's young, right? We're impetuous and impatient and we're like, we’ve got construction, forestry, we want to go and market it. And that's hopefully I'm not spoiling 2024 and 25, but there's the value proposition and the value story, the brand promise, and then the brand delivery and agriculture is going to be extended into those other markets. I think that'll be exciting to see that story play out and then also see some end users really utilize those tires or tracks or whatever type of situation there is and to execute their business and do it really well. So one of the things we worked on this year and I guess something we found that was missing was in the website, a lot of users were looking for a selector in a search functionality, not to look for the Ascenso X, Y, Z model, etc. They know their machine and they know the tire they need. So I think one of the things we found there was an area that was missing in like the usability of the website. Maybe talk about how we came to that conclusion, like the feedback you got from the sales team. And then we know we're actively addressing that even as we speak. I think there's folks back at the office are working that today, but maybe talk about how you got that feedback and learned what was missing in the website user experience in finding the tire that they needed for their application.

Annie: Yeah, So we definitely still have those customers, those and users like our our friend Vince still has a flip phone. And I couldn't email him had to call him and he wants the mailers and the print catalogs. But we're moving a little more into the digital space with our dealers and they want to make sure that they have what their customers are looking for and really cleaning up our website to showcase our range. But also what they're looking for specifically on has been a huge and just to like talking to the sales guys and having them go through the website and then communicating that to you guys and you by saying, okay, this is like the perfect mix of that. Of what's going to help clean up the website, make it, optimize it faster, and show that also what they want in the specific search functions. So I think it's been it's been that it's improved a lot over the years. I'm sure if we we we work on it constantly. I feel like it's not something that you can do and leave it alone for couple of years. It's going to need constant updates and there's development happening and new products being added. And you know, we've developed a really great process of doing that with you guys, where because it's kind of it's going to take a couple people to got there. So yeah, making it user friendly but also dealer friendly and compliant with India what they want. So it's something.

Bill: Yeah. So I think when we look at the website process and optimizing usability, probably one of the recognitions there was while large distributor deals like ABM type of work where we're looking at maybe someone has 20 or 30 branches that they're going to buy the tires by the container and then redistribute. They're probably looking more at that high level, high funnel value proposition, you know, support, supply, on time delivery, etc. When we're looking, though, this is a business that sold basically two tires at a time, right? Because you generally are based in pairs. So when we look at that, we have to recognize that not only do we have to meet that ABM or that big corporate client and communicate to them, we also have to communicate to the final transaction is going to be done with several digits, dashes and back slashes that you know, as this tire right here is 420 backslash a 90 or 30 and I don't know what that means per se. I know there's a grid and we can look it up and we can define that. But those are that's ultimately where the transaction occurs. So we have to be mindful of the different buyers personas that are involved in your website and involved in all of your digital, and then making sure that we have a user experience that meets both of them or multiple buyer personas where they're at. So that's exciting that we've we've kind of figured that out and we're developing an optimization plan for it. So when we look at what's missing and what didn't work, are there any examples and some of our clients really struggle with this So it's fine if you don't have anything. What we tried, where you tried that was not as successful as you would have liked it to have been, or your you want to change for next year.

Annie: I think something that I've learned when it comes to especially social media, there's difference between paid and organic and they going to be completely different campaigns in a sense even between social media is like our LinkedIn presence is going to be different than our Facebook presence. Our LinkedIn is very is more B2B, whereas our Facebook is more end user. So we actually got an opportunity to work and partner with his name’s Juan from Gold Rush on Discovery Plus. So yeah, and he has really helped with his influence. And if we think about influencer marketing, you think of people selling stuff on TikTok. And you, they go, we're a manufacturer. We can't really working in influencer marketing. But he has grown our social media following and by one with one post. Crazy. And it's going to be like we've given the tires he has we've made them a little more shinier and like putting the white on it. So when he's on the show you’re able to see it too so we wouldn't do that he's not on LinkedIn. That's not where his audience is. So it's completely different. And so I think trying to have the same target market for different avenues was kind of where we learned over this year. So it didn't work to do the same thing for everything. I mean, we talk about in general marketing, but anything tailored specifically like our digital ads are going to be completely different that our organic social media cause they’re not the same. And so I think that's that was the missing part, is that learning of those differences.

Bill: No, that's that's great. And I think that that talks about a category that we're very passionate about, which is no one in manufacturing and B2B marketing should talk about social media. Social media is too big of a word. We have to have a LinkedIn strategy oh wait that's even too big. We need a LinkedIn organic strategy. We need a LinkedIn paid strategy. We need LinkedIn employee advocacy strategy. We need LinkedIn and some people don't even know about this sales navigator strategy. And it is so important in today's B2B and manufacturing marketing space that we look at those things and really segment them, segment them by target audience, by message, by value proposition, by problem solution definition, and it’s so critical that we identify the differences that occur or need to occur in our approach and execution to deliver on something like social media, which has to be broken down. So Annie I think that's a that's a great insight. And I agree that Ascenso has come a long way now that was something that was missing, let's say, 12 to 18 months ago. We're getting there. We're not there yet. I don't know that we’ll ever get there. Right. It changes every day. But we're getting there. And I think the other thing that's neat about working with you guys at Ascenso is in it's exciting is your product line is changing every day. They're constantly sending out new inventory lists of new models and sizes and SKUs that they've developed. Maybe talk about that, that dynamic environment of it's never the same day twice at Ascenso Tires North America.

Annie: It’s definitely not. I think we do so much across the marketing channels. It's not because we do have those end users who need the print catalogs, but we also have to cater to the digital stuff. We have to do the trade shows, which again isn’t as fancy, I guess it's is not as digitally up and coming. You don't have screens everywhere. We have tires everywhere. So we're not going to I'm saying you need to kind of tailor to the end user who's coming to touch and see what you have. And then they're asking you, do you have this exact size? And is like, we might in two days. Like, who knows? So yeah, it's been a lot of a lot of growth and a lot of figuring out how to implement that growth smoothly and not just throwing information at people. It's collecting it in a way that you can put it out in what how they want to like take it in on how they want to talk about it to their customers. So it's it's not just, hey, we have this and it was one new size. It's like we have to twenty sizes. Where does this fit into your customer base? And I think we have been doing like even the old school presentations and USB drives and, and that stuff. That helps because then, I mean, but then we're sending them a new one in a couple of months. So it's in that works for some people more so than just putting on our website and saying, hey, go find it.

Bill: I think the important thing you're getting at there and we talk about this a lot with our clients in our office is we have to recognize that the buyer's journey is not linear. The buyer's journey is messy. It involves traditional channels like paid search, paid social, seeing ads and kind of coming in through that high funnel attraction content. But it also involves a new and emerging field called dark social, where people are watching a podcast like this and getting information and learning about 50 Marketing and learning about Ascenso Tires and then they maybe take a screenshot because I know my staff loves it when I do this on social media. Take a screenshot and send it to them and say, Talk to me about this. I'm sure there's no one else on the planet that does that. So there are so many ways in this messy buyer's journey that we have to be mindful of and make sure that we're meeting our buyers where they are, wherever they are on the journey. There's a statistic that 86% of the buyer's journey happens online before a client contacts you, via phone text email chat, however, and we have to make sure and I think you're alluding to this, that we are meeting that buyer on that 86% of the journey wherever they are and filling in those gaps. And if it's an old school USB drive, I mean, I'm a good bit older than you and I've been around a lot longer. And I remember like we used to print CDs and hand out the sleeves and then the USBs and then did you get the lanyard with the USB or did you just hand it a whole bunch of things we did back in the dark ages. But if that still works in this industry and it helps the buyer and meets them and fills that gap in their journey to get them to that purchase point, I mean, ultimately what we're here to do is not to do digital marketing, it’s to affect markets and to help our clients grow and help you grow. And if that means USB drives let’s do USB drives, if it means trade shows, as much as we all love business travel, let's do trade shows. And you know, so and to follow up on that, your trade show business you guys have done and this industry seems to still be very trade show centric. I mean, it's just the nature of it. People like to touch the tires, which I guess that's still important. I don't know. Like my family used to own a furniture manufacturing company. And people love to sit in the couches and the chairs that I kind of got because like, you would touch it, you'd sit in it, you would feel it. But this industry seems to be very they want to touch the tires. They want to see it. They want you to be there. And you guys have how many trade shows did you guys do?

Annie: It was just a handful. And I say that as an we're looking to a lot more in the future. And it's kind of, again, that building the brand awareness and then that will lead to those distributor purchases. Proposition so I it's it's and I will say that working with you you put that so much better than I could have and I think that’s such that’s a point of kind of our relationship is I have these ideas and I can you can eloquently say them and put them into action whereas I'm just like this happened and I think we should do this about it. You're like, okay, let's do a little more professional than just that. 

Bill: That's hopefully what we bring to the table. What we really strive to do and is kind of at our core is we do not want to do digital art. We want to be part of the journey at the inception with the strategy and making sure we have the right goals and objectives set forth. And it's trickier than ever, right, because we're seeing a lot of generational shifting. So there's more millennials in the workforce than ever. And the way they buy, even in the professional B2B space, is wildly different than certainly the baby boomers. I think I'm Gen X, I can't remember. You know, all those different generations. So I think it's very important that we have the right strategy and that's what I do all day is talk to clients and develop strategy. So that's hopefully why I can put those things together. But getting the information from you guys is what's so important to understand the business. And I feel like in the last two years you've come up to speed really, really quickly, even though you have that heritage in tires. Your dad was at Bridgestone in I.T. So it wasn't like you were touching the tires, but you were aware of the industry. But I feel like in the last two years you’ve really come up to speed quickly in understanding the market, which is so critical because for us to have a successful client relationship, we need a point person at the factory or representing the factory or the distributor who can help extract information, who can help be that bridge for us and will we find that team between our team and your team, when we can really work together. That's where we get outsized results. And we found that with Ascenso. So we've enjoyed the relationship certainly. And I know Mike isn't here today, but I'm going to shake his hand again so I always like to see Mike whenever I'm in town. But this is my second visit to this warehouse. The last time there were flat tires moving everywhere, which is great, but right now is a downtime, so we don't have all of the forklifts running and all the tires moving. Well, Annie, the the other things we look at is as we look towards the future and as you think about B2B and manufacturing marketing, is there anything you see as being like critical in the next phase for Ascenso develop? ome of the things that come to mind are the social media, the the organic content we’ve talked about. Those or anything else you can think of that would be super by more part of your strategy.

Annie: I think we're looking a lot closer at sales enablement stuff that we're doing. We have the initial promotional items that we give at trade shows. Pens, post-its. We've actually been becoming known for our hats. I'll give you one.

Bill: Nice, I'm looking at our producer Noah, you're going to get a hat. I got a thumbs up.

Annie: It's just as in we're really looking into doing things well. Not just to do them. And that comes with the sales enablement stuff and not just putting out fliers. It's the correct flier. It's creating a flier for a distributor. It's that kind of stuff that's going to, again, get us in the door, keep us in the door, keep us front of mind. But then it also complements everything else we're doing. It's not just those fliers are going to match our ads a little bit. Our trade show stuff is going to get into the right hands and end users are I'm I'm trying to do a little sponsorship action in there I think that's a huge deal especially these big shows because you've got the right people there who are interested in this stuff and but like the hats, they’re nice hats so it's like just like wear it out or like the shirts or the polos we're trying to invest things that are going to the dealers to get them to where to get stuff to go in their stores, like posters and tire stands and just attire out there so people can see it. So that and these are asked, is that I've never maybe never heard of that before. I'm sure something we've implemented this year is the farm service truck technician recognition program. So it was kind of it was from one of our products managers. And he sees that the truck technicians, the guys who go out and replace the farm tire in the dead of winter, in the freezing rain. They are some of our biggest advocates. Because they work with them so often. So we really wanted and they’re never really had the spotlight before because everyone's worried about the end user or the dealer. So we’re starting a program we’re taking nominees and we're going to have a committee choose a winner. We're going to fight it out for SEMA. Yeah. So it's really feeding in. We've already gotten some submissions, even though there's no submission form people are just emailing us. So it's and we got a lot of traction with publications and stuff too that are saying, wow, this is something that no one’s done before, but they should be doing it. And so we're nominees. If you have, I think like five years, you get gloves hitting the 15 years, you get a really nice cargo jacket. And so and it's just a way to say, like, we see you, we appreciate you deserve this. And it's not for the faint of heart to do this work. So it's it takes a lot to stay within it in fifteen years.

Bill: So it's a physical it's a physical business. I mean, this is you know, this isn’t even the largest tire that's in here. I've seen them replace them on our tractors at our farm. My father was in the mining business. So some of the largest tires that I see down a couple rows on the rock trucks and the wheel loaders, I saw those being replaced and it is not for the faint of heart. I will say this, though. The skill and the artistry with which a single person with a crane in some like large rock class can take on and off a huge tire by themselves makes it look easier than whenever I'm trying to change the bicycle tire on my ten-year-old's pedal bike. They they like they they learn this craft. And I think that's excellent and just amazing that you guys are recognizing their contribution to not only the American economy, but also in the whole value chain, of what you're doing. We have other clients who are doing similar things, who are really recognizing every person who's involved. And I think maybe one of the things we learned from the from Covid one of the things we've learned from the whole pandemic, whatever you want to call it, is that the blue collar work is honorable, it is valuable and it is so important to everything we do every day. And when we saw that, you know, the challenges the companies had with maintaining a workforce and then, I don't know all the figures but like Mike Rowe talks about 7 million people dropped out of the workforce on his in his Dirty Jobs or whatever it is publication or show is that there was a real crisis. And I think the other thing we deal with is the younger people and the younger generation don't value that as much so we're having trouble getting the younger people to go into that field of study and that we could about that's a whole other show we could do on like society, but let's get back to this technician recognition program I think is just amazing. I think that's going to be great and it should provide and help your story. But whether that happens or not, I think when we look at the “never stop rising” attitude of Ascenso that falls right behind with recognizing people who are always rising to do that craft and do it well. And if it's rising through a rainstorm underneath a muddy piece of equipment or it's in the mine or whatever, that certainly embodies Ascenso I think that's that's amazing. And we'll be looking forward to seeing how that pans out this year. Annie this has been an amazing conversation. We have covered everything from, you know, college days through the growth of Ascenso and your professional involvement and experience here. So that's been amazing. So thank you very much and we really appreciate you joining us today.

Annie: Yeah, thanks for coming out and sparking more ideas as we had this conversation. So I'm going to run back to my desk. I'm going to watch this over and over again.

Bill: We’ll get you a transcript so you can take those points down and will include up to 2024 2025.

Annie: I’ll be typing up the notes really fast. 

Bill: Well, thanks for joining us.

Annie: Of course. Thank you.

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