DH 30: A Look at Decade #2 (1999-2008) - DeanHouston+


DH 30: A Look at Decade #2 (1999-2008)

DeanHouston is eternally grateful to be celebrating 30 years serving great customers the world over.

A lot has happened in our first 30 years and before we turn the page on our next 30, let’s look at our second decade in business and the mile markers during this 10-year period that helped bring us to where we are today.

If you’ve been following us, you know that we’re chunking our 30 years into three decades, highlighting in each one the people and organizations that have been instrumental in helping to shape and sustain our company.

Here’s a look at Decade #2.

1999 to 2008

Following the formation of high-profile client partnerships throughout much of the 1990s, beginning in 1998 we put our noses to the grindstone to help these loyal partners make more money and keep more of it (i.e., increase their revenues AND net income). Our hard-charging devotion to helping partners grow their bottom lines fortified these relationships. This unalterable philosophical principle remains fundamental to how we do business with clients who embrace us as true partners.

In 1998, OPW experienced a major leadership change with President Bob Conner, CFO Hal Bauer, and Marketing Director Frank Ruth all retiring after serving at the helm for more than 20 years. They would turn over the reins of OPW to an aggressive new leadership team, one determined to make OPW a “global powerhouse brand.” This resulted in the still-famous battle cry DeanHouston created as part of a global brand overhaul and unification program for OPW: One Company. One World. One Source. This program not only helped to unify OPW’s global entities under a single brand, it also set the stage for what today is the world’s most powerful petroleum equipment brand. The “One Company. One World. One Source.” tagline is timeless and will forever live as one of the more successful B2B branding stories ever created.

Another marquee DeanHouston client, Scientific Games, announced its intention to merge with another industry leader, Autotote Corporation. The merger was completed on September 6, 2000. At the time, the new entity would bill itself as the world’s only fully integrated lottery service provider and the largest provider of services, systems, and products to the pari-mutuel gaming and instant ticket lottery industries.

The merged company would retain the Scientific Games name and introduce us to new people, new thinking, and new ways of working together. One of the things DeanHouston prides itself on is its willingness and ability to make adjustments and be flexible to a client’s new leadership and their particular business philosophies, strategies, style and preferences. We believe our ability to adapt quickly to change, exercise infinite flexibility and enthusiastically embrace new thinking as an opportunity to grow, improve and push creative boundaries has enabled DeanHouston to remain relevant to clients such as OPW and Scientific Games when new leadership emerges.

2002 was certainly a year to remember. Out of the blue one day, we received a call from a gentleman named John Evans. The purpose of his call was to learn more about our company and what we could offer his company.

Mr. Evans was in charge of marketing for a powerhouse B2B brand known as Champion Laboratories. This Albion, IL-based company was the world’s largest private label filtration manufacturers, and one of the most diversified manufacturers of air, gas, fuel, hydraulic, oil and water filters for the automotive, lawn and garden, and on- and off-road heavy equipment industries.

One of Champ Labs’ companies, PetroClear, was preparing to launch a new product and also wanted to elevate its brand identity and awareness in the process. Mr. Evans was looking for a marketing firm with retail petroleum industry experience that could set the company and its innovative product on the right path. The curious twist to this story is that Mr. Evans called us almost immediately after conducting a sales & distributor meeting in its Albion offices. On the last day of the meeting, Mr. Evans asked his audience for recommendations of marketing companies that could help PetroClear launch its new product and help improve its marketing efforts. Only one company was recommended – DeanHouston – and it was recommended by two reps that were handling lines for other DeanHouston clients, LSI Lighting and OPW, so these reps were quite familiar with the marketing and sales tools being used by both of these industry leaders. Those two credible endorsements would forge a business partnership that now spans more than 16 years and would lay the foundation for opportunities with other companies in the automotive and fluid management industries.

A year after successfully launching PetroClear’s new product and brand, a new, highly sophisticated global branding and integrated marketing strategy would emerge when Dover decided to combine multiple industry-leading brands under one name, OPW Fluid Transfer Group. Although this newly formed group shared the name OPW, it was completely separate, which compounded the communications challenges. The OPW Fluid Transfer Group was comprised of multiple independent entities, including OPW Engineered Systems, a maker of loading arms; Civacon, a maker of tank truck equipment; and Midland Manufacturing, the leading rail tank car products manufacturer in North America.

Creating a unified entity while maintaining the individual equity and identities of the existing industry-leading niche brands presented a complex challenge. This highly sophisticated global brand initiative, considered the first of its kind within Dover Corporation, leveraged the common brand bonds and core values of each business to create a compelling story about this unique customer-first organization, comprised of fluid handling experts along the entire processing, loading, transport and unloading value-chain committed to protecting people and the environment, and to improving the business performance of any company handling the world’s most hazardous fluids. This “Dual Branding Strategy” was developed in five languages, and enabled DeanHouston to illustrate its strategic prowess and creative capabilities as an industrial brand strategist, and helped thrust the company into an exciting era of significant growth.

That same year, we would also earn the trust of Luber-finer, another Champ Labs company and the originator of by-pass filtration used on heavy-duty over-the-highway trucks and off-road vehicles. The relaunch of the Luber-finer brand is one of DeanHouston’s most impressive and notable global branding programs and consisted of a total identity overhaul and new tagline: Built To Do More. The slogan is utilized to this day.

One of our crowning achievements in 2004 involved Grand Rapids, MI-based Blackmer, a world leader in mission-critical flow solutions utilizing vane pump technology the company invented in 1903.

Blackmer pumps are workhorses. Among many other applications, Blackmer vane pumps are also vital to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers for unloading fuel from planes being prepared for storage. The company is also a global leader in LPG and liquid petroleum truck pumps.

This industry-leading, 115-year-old pump company selected us in a unique, six-month-long, competitive agency review process that pitted us against an incredibly talented Dover operating company creative services team, referred to as 20/20. This inside team presented stiff competition and a formidable challenge, not simply because of its home court advantage but also because of its widely heralded creative and design reputation. DeanHouston would eventually win the business based on the strength of its strategic capabilities and its wide-ranging, complementary portfolio of marketing support services.

Of note, the Blackmer award came less than a month after DeanHouston had been named agency of record for two significant new accounts: OPW Fluid Transfer Group and Luber-finer. Looking back, 2004 was as important to the growth of DeanHouston as 1989 and 1991 were when we were named agency of record for Scientific Games and OPW Fueling Components, respectively.

As our client list expanded, so, too, did our roles, responsibilities, and service portfolio. This cascading activity, to be sure, is what gave rise to the formation of our Publicity & Media department, a moniker since changed to “Content & Media.” Taking the helm of this new department was the respected editor-in-chief of National Petroleum News (NPN), the 100-year-old trade publication “Bible” of the petroleum industry. Now in his 12th year with DeanHouston, Darren Wight continues to lead and grow our Content team. At the first sign of demand outpacing resources, we continue to unfailingly add both seasoned B2B journalists as well as bright, inspired, social-media-savvy experts (which include more than a few millennials) to our content development team.

By 2005, continued client expansion would necessitate the establishment of
Exhibit Management & Logistics to manage the design, fabrication, and execution of trade show booths and displays for clients and prospects of all sizes.

Through a combination of strategic partnerships and expanding in-house capabilities, Exhibit Logistics today is a total turnkey exhibit management solutions company that provides a wide range of custom design, fabrication, off-the-shelf hardware, graphics, printing and warehousing services. Steady growth and accelerated customer demand over the past five years has resulted in Exhibit Logistics tripling its employee base and making significant investments in the most advanced wide-format printing technologies. Today, the company boasts a modern, climate-controlled, 24,000-square-foot facility comprised of office, printing, and warehouse space to accommodate current and future anticipated growth.

Other highlights marked 2005, most notably the absorption and integration of OPW Fuel Management System’s marketing personnel into DeanHouston’s operational infrastructure.

In the B2B space, a product or service many times cannot be adequately captured and communicated using a traditional camera. In 2007, we aggressively entered the world of 3D animation, creating a Multimedia Department. Our 3D capabilities take a prospect’s and/or an investor’s products and applications to places the camera’s eye simply cannot go. B2B companies of all sizes and sophistication find great value in this service, which today remains a fast-growing segment of our business.

In the past eleven years, the handicraft of our animators has enabled companies of all sizes, both for-profit and non-profit, to take complex subject matter and convert it to information their target audiences can digest quickly and easily. Our Multimedia services – which include Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Audio, and Video – allow us to provide absolute clarity on the most compelling functional and beneficial aspects of our customers’ technical products.

By the end of 2007, DeanHouston was still a relatively small company, with only 16 full-time employees. For comparison, today we employ a diverse group of nearly 80 talented and driven individuals.

It was in 2007 that Dale and Greg developed a blueprint to grow the company in a meaningful way. The strategy was to transform DeanHouston from essentially being a practice tied principally to its owners (e.g., doctor’s office) to a robust and sustainable business enterprise. What they didn’t realize at that very moment was that the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent Great Recession had already begun delivering a body blow that, for the next two years, would take the global economy to its knees.

As we pointed out in our previous blog, sometimes you need a little luck in business to weather the inevitable storms. And make no mistake, the Great Recession was much more than a few dark clouds and a bolt of lightning off in the distance.

As luck would have it, in 2008, Dover Corporation would combine eight of its independent, market-leading companies into one unified global pump group. The new entity, Pump Solutions Group (PSG), could not have come along at a better time given the havoc that was gripping the global economy. Call it luck. Call it fate. Whatever you believe it to be, the new pump group, known as PSG, would help jumpstart DeanHouston’s strategy of creating a robust and sustainable business enterprise. It would also set the stage for our westward expansion, which would come four years later.

More on that, including other transformative initiatives, in our third and final blog celebrating DeanHouston’s first 30 years! Stay tuned.

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