Madison Brechbuhler

Marketing an Industrial Scale Company

Episode 2

Madison Brechbuhler is Marketing Coordinator of Brechbuhler Scales Inc. Born and raised in Canton, Ohio, Madison grew up around the shop and enjoyed working alongside her family in several areas of the business while earning her degree. Madison majored in Business and Communications with a minor in Leadership at Hope College in Michigan, and began working full-time for Brechbuhler in the Fall of 2020 after graduation. She's extremely proud and appreciative to work with the family and friends that she had the privilege of growing up around. 
 
In this episode, Madison joins Bill to discuss her journey to becoming Marketing Coordinator, what it's been like to take on digital marketing for a truck scale company, and the work Brechbuhler has accomplished with 50 Marketing, including website design and social media campaigns.
 
Brechbuhler Scales offers preventative maintenance, repair, installations, and calibration services throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan. As a longtime client of 50 Marketing, Brechbuhler has grown tremendously in their marketing initiatives and continues to inspire us as a cornerstone company of the nation's economy. Follow Brechbuhler on LinkedIn here.

Episode Transcript

Bill: So, Madison, thank you for joining us today. We really appreciate you guys taking time out of your schedules to join us and have a conversation.

Madison: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Bill: Great. So could you tell us a little bit about your current role here at Brechbuhler Scales, what you do? And then that will lead into some follow up questions I'm really interested in, that I think will really help tell your story. So we're going to dig a little deeper into the Madison story.

Madison: Oh, good. There's a lot of story there. So I guess my official title is marketing coordinator. But I feel like when you work in a family business, that's got a lot of facets to it. So I have worked anything from our marketing strategy that we have as a 90 plus year old fourth generation family business all the way up to we do our website stuff, I do some promotional items, and apparel, and video stuff, and campaigns and it's a lot of content. A lot of talking with people, a lot of traveling to branches.

Bill: That's great, no, and certainly when you look at where you are and you're a young person just newly out of college for a couple of years, from my perspective is just out of college cause I'm a little bit older than you. Could you tell us a little bit about your journey? Because even though you've only been full time here at Brechbuhler, certainly your last name might indicate that you've been around a little bit longer than just your post-college career here.

Madison: Yeah. So my dad was third generation owner and my brother is fourth generation owner, so I have grown up coming to visit Grandpa and Dad at work and running all around the offices and the buildings and stuff like that. And then end of high school, I worked in the corporate office a little bit, just filing and helping with our H.R. lady at the time and I went to my parents and I said, you have to find something else for me to do because I can't just sit down and alphabetize. I'm going to go crazy. And so that eventually moved into the summers in college. I would come and work with our Mike Flanagan, our late manufacturing supervisor, and working with him in the summers and just helping with scheduling and following him around and learning the manufacturing side of our business. And then, yeah, after college I wanted something that was creative but structured to some extent, and that's where marketing came in. And basically I just said like, if there's a need for it, I will do my best to fill it. And a lot of that was baptism by fire and still is three plus years later. But I think we've made some progress, which is good.

Bill: Oh, absolutely. And yeah, that's great. So I grew up in a family business and some of my earliest memories are working with my dad at different plants, or on different job sites and those were like the experiences that were really like formable and me growing up and becoming who I am. Are there any specific memories or something that really stands out from being with granddad or dad or now, like your brother, that really had an impact on how you approach your work and the things you do here at Brechbuhler?

Madison: Oh man, yeah, there's lots of stuff. So my grandfather was quite a bit older by the time I was older around the shop, so I don't have a ton of stories around him other than just coming to visit him at the shop and sitting in his office and sitting on his big couch. My dad and I have done some traveling together. And one thing that has always just been a consistent thing throughout our business is that everyone here and now more here with my brother, and the one thing that has been a consistent thing throughout my growing up with being around the shop and the people is just that we absolutely love the people so, so much. It is the reason my family gets up every morning. My brother uses the analogy of belly buttons of how many belly buttons he has to send a paycheck to at the end of every two weeks. And they all have families and have to feed, you know, and put food on the table and that kind of stuff. And we're just really blessed with a wonderful culture around us that has been built by my father and grandfather and great grandfather.  So yeah, a lot of it is, I'm rambling now.

Bill: But that's that's the impact they had on you. And that's that actually leads right to my next question. So we, our company 50 Marketing, we deal with a lot of multi-generational family owned businesses and when we deal with that next generation, there's usually two types of people we run to and there's lots of types, but for this conversation we're breaking down that into areas. One is there's usually that next generation that's really interested in stuff. The process, they like the machines, or the welders or the CMC saws, or that manufacturing of things and the raw materials. On the other side we see people who are more interested in the people side of the business, the employees and their families and training and communication. And I think you probably just answered, but maybe lean into that a little more. It seems like you're on that people side more than the product process side.

Madison: Yeah, absolutely. I try to learn something new about scales and scale systems and all that kind of stuff every day, if not, you know, every week, if not every day. But I love people. I've always loved people, and I'm obviously really biased when I say I think we have some of the best. And it's just incredible that you can go to any branch in any of our states and just see this almost like ecosystem of people coming together every day, working, knowing everything about each other's lives. And we're just really fortunate and blessed to be a part of that and be in those peoples', in in people's lives to that capacity. And so, yeah, I think when that relates to my job, I'm really passionate about just telling one the story of our company and telling the story of the people who are at our company and recognizing them and showing them off because their life experiences and what they've done in their lives is just far more interesting than than mine or anyone else in my family's.

Bill: Sure, you're the sum of the parts. Well recently you, I'm aware that, you did some employee anniversary videos where you went around to the branches. You interviewed folks and just talked about their not only their journey with Brechbuhler, but maybe a little bit about how they've developed as individuals. When you think about that process, what impacted you the most or what was the biggest takeaway you've had from just like not necessarily of any specific person per se, but just the collective feedback or takeaway you got from all of those interviews. And just I mean, dealing with people who've been there, what, some 25, 30 years, 15 years like these aren't people would just started 90 days ago, they've been around a long time. What what was the biggest impact you had from that?

Madison: Other than the embarrassing stories like out of my dad, my brother?

Bill: That's just bonus material. Yeah that's a Thanksgiving, that's Christmas fodder. That's birthday fodder. That's great.

Madison: But oh gosh, there's so many takeaways. One is personally just an immense sense of gratitude of people who have dedicated their life to being here and to growing the company and growing the culture and making it what it is today. The other thing is just like a lot of time, like the final question is if you could give a new employee any advice on how to exemplify our culture and values, what would that be? And that was just to show up and care. And these are people who have shown up and cared for 25, 35, 45 years now, which is just amazing and really cool and something that I know I don't take lightly and that my family doesn't take lightly.

Bill: No, that's great. And I think sometimes in 2023 when we go on the Internet, YouTube, wherever and people talk about things, I think this specifically career wise, they over complicate it. I think they tell young people they have to have it all figured out by the time they're 23, 24. No, really, what you have to do is just show up and care, be empathetic, work hard, treat people like human beings. And that can be the foundation of a tremendous career. And certainly Brechbuhler is a collection of people who have done that consistently. So that's great. And the fact that you're capturing that and then using that as something that's aspirational for new employees and for newer that just started employees, that's that's fantastic. And I think that speaks to your culture and certainly it speaks to, you know, we're sitting here in a room that has the timeline on it, different decades of the company. So that's that's an exciting thing.

Madison: Thank you, you put that a lot more eloquently than I did.

Bill: Oh no, no, but like it gets just my juices flowing because, you know, I come from a family business as well. And we started in 1991. My dad went out on his own. We've been in multiple different businesses, so the business hasn't been consistent, but the family business has been consistent. 50 Marketing is celebrating 20 years this year in 2023. So that's exciting for us. Thank you. Yeah, there's, you know, just like you're back there on the wall in 1920s and 1930s, the early days, there's dark times, but you show up and you care and you, you do what you can to keep your customers happy, your employees happy and just keep moving forward. So it's exciting to see that and it's inspirational for me to see that, you know, we could be there. Well I won't be there, but like my children or my grandchildren could take this family business to this type of longevity is very exciting. So switching gears a little wee bit, when we talk to manufacturing marketing professionals and B2B service marketing professionals, we like to talk about just at a very high level, not getting down into the technical details, but what are the biggest challenges you think you face when delivering marketing for Brechbuhler? And I'll give you some examples of what where we see the conversation trend with other folks we talk to. The six or the five areas we hear the most are content creation, technology adoption and implementation, distribution. And then these two are more strategy which are prioritization and planning. So out of those, because that's kind of the common theme we've heard or if there's something else that you're just like, Oh, this is my aha moment, this is totally different. What do you feel is the biggest challenge you face or that you see Brechbuhler facing with what, what you're doing?

Madison: Yeah, I'm not sure. I will start off with what it initially was and it's grown since, but I'm not sure which bucket that fits into but we're in a pretty niche business. When you say my dad always tells the story of he would tell people, when people would ask him what he does, he would say, Oh, we work in scales, we do scales. And people would come up to him, and ask is that a full time gig? And he would say, Yeah, yeah, yeah, it actually is. And I'm very guilty of growing up, not really understanding it either. So you have to really get a good handle on what scales are and their importance and that they really truly are the bedrock of the economy because everything is weighed at one point in its life span, anything in this room has been weighed at least once. And so there's there's that, and then technology adoption. We work in a lot of industries that are not necessarily known to be on the forefront of technology and social media, and all of those fun things. So meeting people where they're at in that capacity has been a challenge and a good one because, you know, Bob from Bob's Scrapyard is probably not on TikTok looking for scale solutions.

Bill: True, he might be on TikTok.

Madison: True, it's probably not in his algorithm. Yeah, right. So that's been something that is just finding different solutions and and recognizing that where I live in the Internet and the stuff that I'm doing is not the same thing and that our customers are viewing. And so changing my mindset a little bit on that, there's all sorts of stuff really.

Bill: But that's, that's a really, really good one where we're finding that the Internet always tells you that it's the answer. LinkedIn's the answer, Facebook's the answer. Google is the answer because I want your money. YouTube's the answer, they want your money. TikTok, Instagram, whatever. The reality is, we have to meet people where they are. And that does require digital because research we've looked at says about 86% of the buyer journey is online. So that's true and that's trending more and more every day because as younger people come up, they're more used to talking to Siri or using their phones or watching things on YouTube, not reading, you know, printed paper and that type of thing. But we have to meet them where they are. And certainly there is a huge segment of the economy specifically in B2B industrial that is still making buying decisions that is not a high technology adopter. They do some technology, but we still need some printed materials. We still need to meet some of them at some trade shows or having sales reps or BDRs or whatever, contact them. So there's that aspect of it that is is very important. But no, those are great and that's fantastic. We see a lot of challenges everybody's facing and everybody's just trying to climb that hill together. This past year we worked with you guys on a CRM project where we developed a number of sequences of videos, of content, of really trying to communicate a journey that your prospective buyer and current buyers could go on. Do you want to talk about that process a little bit, and we'll just go through that?

Madison: I think it all goes back to like meeting people where they're at and there was a huge need in our company, just a lot of missing gaps, right, of people come to us with a scale problem or wondering information and we get their personal information because they're interested in us. And now what? Right. They're just sitting there in an email bank, in a big Excel sheet of emails.

Bill: Right. That's where all good contacts go to die. In that database. And then nothing happens.

Madison: You know, there was emails back there from like the early 2000. Our first I think run through, through the CRO, the first emails we sent out, the bounce rate was really atrocious. And so yeah, this is probably not a great answer, but just trying to predict what people need. That's just marketing, predicting what people need and then giving them content that matches that.

Bill: So this we got an award here that we won with you guys so this is an award for the entire CRM campaign. So this is one Brechbuhler and 50 Marketing won together. So we wanted to present. So you can go hold that heavy thing the whole way through the rest of our talk.

Madison: This is awesome. I'd like to thank the academy and 50 Marketing.

Bill: Yeah, that's right. So this is this is your moment, right?

Madison: Cool. I'll send a picture to my dad and brother, be like did you guys win an award today?

Bill: So you can one up the family over Christmas in Michigan. I would take that. Set it on the tree, put it, there's the new star of the tree, it's a little heavy, but there you go. So that recognized so what that award was it recognized the continuity of the campaign, a lot of the messaging. So we presented all of that and applied and were awarded that. And I think this is the second award we've won with our work with you guys. So that's really good to see and good to be recognized for the work we've done together. So we're very pleased and congratulations.

Madison: Thank you, guys. Obviously, we would not be anywhere close to where we're at without you guys. It all started with our website and you guys completely overhauled our website. It was three, three and a half years ago. Three years ago, when I started working here, our website was nonfunctional on some pages and that was just kind of in the best way possible, dropped into my lap to be like, fix it. And I was like, Well, I don't know anything about website design. And so I threw a bunch of interviews with companies, marketing companies, and you guys were our last one because of the way you consistently reached out. I forget what for website I was on to look for sure for

marketing companies, but reached out. And you guys were our last interview and it was pretty immediate that we found ourselves as a good fit together and just completely overhauled our website and did a phenomenal job with that and have just been working with us so diligently and patiently for the last, you know, however many years. So thank you guys.

Bill: Yeah, thank you for continuing to choose 50 Marketing and one of the things we pride ourselves in, we have a high 90% retention rate of their clients. We also have a high 90 plus percent retention rate with our employees. So similar to what you guys have with your longevity in culture and your mission vision values, we try to do something similar and have longstanding employee relationships, which we help, we believe helps drive our quality and our consistency. But yeah, we've done a number of projects with you guys now. We're now working with the ICS division. We just completed a website and we're working on campaigns with that organization, which is a sister organization. We did a little bit of work with your recruitment division, with the folks at, I think B-TEK and Brechbuhler together, and we're looking forward to this year. We just completed a social media project with you guys, which was really exciting and I think really came out really nicely.

Madison: It looks really good.

Bill: Yeah. And I've seen the thing that's pleased me about that is not only we get it done because in marketing we've got to get stuff done. Like you have to check the box. The engagement that we've started to see on the, the social media content has really been nice and I think meaningful. When I look at the comments and the team has reviewed with me, we're getting some actually quality touches, which is always gratifying because sometimes you feel like this stuff just goes out there in the ether and who's watching it, who's interacting with it that's gonna really, I think, a kudos to you and and our team working together really hard on that. So congratulations on that. I think we'll see that continue into 2024.

Madison: Yeah. Thank you so much. Just to touch on that super quick, that was something I had to fight for, a little bit of like, we need some social media engagement because we have basically nothing now. We had a Facebook page that has a lot of followers that hasn't been touched. And same thing with our LinkedIn and kudos to you guys because something I wanted to do for like, a long time, but the prospect of putting it all together myself and planning it out and finding the content and writing everything was just like one something I didn't have time for and two just completely overwhelming. And so you guys have made the process just so seamless and the creativity going back and forth between and myself and you and, and Johanna and Andrea have just been awesome and it's really cool to see it come to life. And like you said, get engagement of old employees, of current employees, of prospective employees. Like we've really hit, I think, almost all the targets that we've set for the beginning, which is cool.

Bill: Absolutely. And I think the thing that we did there was we started with looking at the personas of who we wanted to talk. Like who are the audiences who are the stakeholders, how did we want to engage them, making sure we're logging those and then crafting the content that recognize some of your initiatives, like the American Grit, the employee recognition, the longevity, and then also creating content that was interesting and engaging.  And I think I want to follow up on what you just said there. Companies that do social media really well in the manufacturing and B2B space work really, really hard at it. Because it's not natural like some of these influencers or these entertainment folks that like our in the D2C market, we're not Mr. Beast. We don't do funny skits or funny contests or give people money in a store. It's it's kind of boring.

Madison: I would love to be able to just promote like a lipstick or something. It'd be so nice.

Bill: Yeah, and then you get some major influencer. They put it online. A million followers.

Madison: Would you believe there's no scale influencers?

Bill: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, and but that's true of almost all manufacturing and B2B clients is we don't have that natural audience. So we have to create engaging content. Then we have to be laser-like in distributing it to them and really making sure the right audience sees it. And it has to be compelling to engage them. So it is not an easy lift to create that in the manufacturing and B2B space. So I think working together, we've done a nice job of that. Like it's really come together and I'll be interested to see in 2024 is because we've got some of it out, but there's a lot more pre-planning. For 2024 to see how that engagement works and see what we're able to do with it.

Madison: Yeah. I'm excited.

Bill: So Madison that I know you love to do podcasts and I know you love to do interviews, and how does this feel after we've sat here and chatted for a bit?

Madison: This is better than I thought. See, this is annoying thing, is I do the employee interviews and I get to sit and ask the questions from behind the camera at the end and like, see, it wasn't that bad. And everyone's been like, No, it's actually not that bad. And then it's like if I get in front of the camera, it's going to be that bad.

Bill: So we can then distribute some of this, even if nothing else, internally to those people that you put on the rack and tortured. And they can see that now you've done it yourself. Right. And you've you've led from the front and been part of that process.

Madison: You got Dennis on camera too, which is, well, in podcast style, which is.

Bill: We had a great interview and he did really well and I think he was looking forward to this about as much as you were. And but at the end of it, I think he really started to get into it and we had a great conversation. Well, Madison, thank you so much for sitting down with us today and helping us win that award with you guys doing great work and right. So, yeah, that's great. That's awesome. And one of the things I want to say is congratulations to you and your family. You're an inspiration to us and here's to the century mark, right? We're just a couple. We're knocking on it. And just you guys keep the keep the faith, keep pushing forward and let's get to that century mark.

Madison: Thank you so much. We have a lot of projects coming up in 2029.

Bill: We'll be here to help you guys.

Madison: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Bill: Thank you, Madison.

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