Risk-free guarantee inspires customer confidence

By Cheryl Long

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Growing distrust for manufactured goods coming from China-based manufacturers spurred a turning point for GCP Industrial Products. By 2007, the Kitchener, Ontario company had many years of successful international business dealings under its belt, including close to 10 years in China, but clients and potential customers were still becoming increasingly alarmed by stories of tainted or defective products manufactured in the Asian market.

What would help to ease customers’ concerns? A foolproof guarantee.

GCP decided to develop a unique supply process known as The Risk-Free Sourcing Solution™, providing companies with products supported by a money back or free replacement policy. It was a simple way to remove the sense of the unknown out of sourcing and purchasing, and increase customer confidence. GCP would handle all of the details — from order procurement to product delivery — and the customer wouldn’t have to pay for the order until it was received and inspected. Essentially, GCP would take on the risk aspect of each purchase while still providing a product that was high in both value and quality.

“It was a solution born out of frustration,” said GCP President Gary Mottershead, who founded the company in 1999. “(The Risk-Free Sourcing Solution™) became a philosophy; it became a way of life for us.” It meant not only assuming the risk for their customers but also ensuring that suppliers were on board with the commitment. “They had to buy into it too. We couldn’t pay for their mistakes,” Mottershead explained.

From price to quality to brand
The new philosophy paid off. GCP doubled their business in 2008 and again in 2012, and also made a shift from price point to quality as one of the determining factors when choosing suppliers and products. Now that quality has been established, they’re preparing to move on to the next phase, which will focus on company branding. In 2013, they celebrated another achievement when the company made PROFIT Magazine’s list of the top 500 fastest-growing companies.

“The Risk-Free Sourcing Solution™ was born out of frustration. It became a philosophy; it became a way of life for us.” Gary Mottershead, President

After spending years in the tire recycling business, Mottershead launched his company with one key supplier and commercial rubber sheet as GCP’s only product. Today, the business has grown substantially and is now the largest importer of industrial rubber sheet in North America. GCP works with more than 30 suppliers across three continents, has an office in China and distributes over 15 million pounds of product in North America each year. They’ve built their own list of Approved Suppliers™ who produce a wide variety of products encompassing more than 3,000 SKUs— belting, matting, industrial hose and fittings, cellular rubber sheet, cork, ceramic tile and, of course, rubber sheet, which is commonly used to make gaskets and other vibration dampening or sound deadening materials.

Since rubber sheet has so many uses, GCP finds itself working across a number of sectors, from oil and gas, mining and agriculture to manufacturing and transportation. The product is both durable and forgiving, and that’s one of the reasons that manufacturers of agricultural vehicles are turning to rubber ladders alongside the cab doors. The traditional aluminium or steel vertical ladders would be damaged if they hit other structures or equipment; the rubber ladders can take a certain amount of impact and still maintain their shape and function. The same holds true for industrial doors. If a truck hit the door backing into the loading dock or manoeuvring into a parking garage, the heavy-duty laminated rubber would be able to stand up to more abuse than its metal counterpart.

“I’ve never worked with a better group of people. When it comes to the job, you have to be all in; before you arrive for the day, check your ego at the door; and while disagreements are fine, conflict is not acceptable.”

Over 80 per cent of business in U.S.
About 75 percent of the rubber product that GCP sources is made from recycled materials. But the company’s involvement goes beyond just finding products for their customers; they’re often involved in the initial design, assume responsibility for the product as it’s manufactured and shipped, and guarantee the final outcome. More than 80 per cent of their business is conducted in the United States, supported by a team that includes 14 full-time employees and seven manufacturing representatives who work throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“I’ve never worked with a better group of people,” Mottershead said, who outlines the company rules with each new hire. Along with an employee handbook, benefits program and bonus structure, he also explains the company’s three unwritten rules: when it comes to the job, you have to be all in; before you arrive for the day, check your ego at the door; and while disagreements are fine, conflict is not acceptable. In a small company, it’s important for everyone to understand and agree to live by a certain set of rules, he added, and that’s the best way for each team member to succeed and grow. They operate as a family and build trust among their customers, two factors that have contributed to GCP’s continued success.

GCP has developed strong relationships with their clients, most of whom are repeat customers. These are well-financed, growth-focused companies with revenues ranging from $5 million to $50 million, and part of GCP’s mandate is to help those customers achieve continued growth and success. “Can we double and triple the size of the businesses that we work with?” Mottershead mused.

GCP acquired Rubatex® in 2009
In 2009, GCP’s own growth took a leap when the company acquired Rubatex®, a brand of closed cellular rubber used in the automotive and aerospace industries, among others. The product is manufactured in the U.S. and operates as a separate entity but the strong Rubatex® name is expected to boost GCP’s branding efforts, assisted by the company’s addition of a new vice president of marketing, Mottershead said.

While continued success within the industry is important to Mottershead, he and the GCP team also have a strong sense of community. They regularly participate in fundraisers, from the Rotary Club Dream Home events and Breast Cancer Awareness month to Kanoes for Kids and annual community turkey drives. One effort that Mottershead is particularly proud of is GCP’s involvement in the Bell Project at the Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center in Lynchburg, Virginia.

When Sandra Brookshire, the wife of GCP consultant and sales rep Larry Brookshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in 2013, the couple decided to donate a large bell to the hospital, encouraging patients to ring the bell at the end of their radiation and chemotherapy treatments as a form of motivation. In an effort to commemorate those special moments, GCP decided to donate a small personal silver bell to each patient. In the first week alone, 25 bells were donated and the tradition is still going strong.

From 2004 to 2014, GCP experienced 10-fold growth, Mottershead said, adding that he would like to see the company achieve those numbers in another 10 years. As the resourceful organization continues to shift to meet the market’s demands and needs, it’s clear that this is not a goal that’s out of reach.

To learn more about GCP Industrial Products, visit www.gcpindustrial.com.