Cover Story: Rescue Team
Conney Safety Products 2008-2009 Buyers Guide
B-to-B Catalog Vets Chuck Moyer (left) and Mike Wessner
Fresh off the sale of their last turnaround project — the reinvigorated J&L Industrial Supply to MSC Industrial Direct in June 2006 — Chuck Moyer and Mike Wessner set their sights on a new opportunity. After an exhaustive search process, these two B-to-B cataloging lifers targeted 63-year-old Conney Safety Products. In a deal financed by the private equity firm CI Capital, Moyer and Wessner acquired the company from its parent firm, K+K America, in October 2007.
Conney was attractive for several reasons, says Moyer, who serves as Conney’s COO. With regard to receivables, payables and inventory, it was a very “clean” company financially. It was a well-established brand in the safety goods community. What’s more, the company had a history of strong customer service. But at the same time, “it was really underperforming, both from a profit-building and growth standpoint,” Moyer says. “We like underperforming companies that we can fix.”
First on their agenda was to implement more robust systems and processes to spur productivity — particularly in the call center and warehouse. When Moyer and Wessner (now Conney’s CEO) acquired the company, the average day-to-day productivity of a call-center rep was 20 to 25 calls a day. The pair’s previous experience at J&L told them this was way too low. So in a little more than a year, that number has swelled to just less than 70 calls per day. Likewise, the distribution center’s productivity jumped from 10 lines processed per man-hour to nearly 16.5.
In addition to the call center and warehouse, Conney has invested in upgrading its IT and CRM systems as well to gain a better understanding of its customers. It also launched a telesales channel, something that’s worked in the past for Moyer and Wessner.
“We wanted to take [Conney’s] existing business model and refine it and define it more clearly through a series of distinct sales channels,” Wessner says. “The telesales channel was a big part of our success at J&L.”