Cover Story: Rescue Team

Conney Safety Products 2008-2009 Buyers Guide

B-to-B Catalog Vets Chuck Moyer (left) and Mike Wessner

How B-to-B catalog vets Chuck Moyer and Mike Wessner applied their J&L Industrial Supply turnaround tactics to Conney Safety Products

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.”

Emphasizing Infrastructure
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.”

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