"Partnering with Chief outsiders was absolutely the right decision for Trystar! We achieved so much more than I expected in a relatively short period of time." A.J. Smith, CEO, Trystar
Trystar makes power distribution equipment in the Midwest. Post-acquisition, their new CEO recognized the need to focus on the most attractive of numerous market opportunities. Finding deep relevant experience at Chief Outsiders, he engaged CMO, Dawn Werry, who directed a cross-functional team to prepare short and long-term revenue growth strategies. An effective market strategy and product vision mitigated the effects of the 2020 pandemic and put them on a path toward substantial growth.
PE Firm Recognized Potential
Trystar manufacturers portable and industrial power distribution equipment. A middle market private equity company recognized its growth potential and in 2019, acquired the majority share from the founding family.
“As I took over at CEO for Trystar, we wanted to focus on what that next step of growth was going to be,” explained A.J. Smith, CEO, Trystar. “There was so much opportunity for the company in the markets that we really needed to make decisions about the right ones for us.”
Shortly after the PE firm brought in Smith, Chief Outsiders Managing Partner, David Vroom, introduced Dawn Werry, Chief Outsiders CMO, to Trystar leadership. “I saw that a strategy focused on the right opportunities could take the company to the next level,” related Werry.
Quick Hit 2020 Plan
Smith decided to go with Chief outsiders for three reasons. “Number one, they came with some great references,” he said. “Secondly, Dawn Werry had some apropos experience in the utility markets that we were investigating. And third, is how good of a cultural fit they would be.”
“They brought us in to start with a quick hit to understand several markets and figure out where to go for growth for 2020,” related Werry. “It was an end of year effort to get them ready for 2020 knowing that they would do a five-year growth plan for 2021 and beyond.”
Smith appreciated the fast start. “The biggest benefit of working with Chief outsiders from a Trystar perspective was that we got world class, CMO talent helping us to develop a strategy and we were able to do so in a matter of just days,” he said.
Narrowed 80 Markets to 3
Working closely with Trystar leadership, Werry travelled onsite once a month. “I met with the CEO and the sales team quite frequently,” she reported. “Together, we organized a cross-functional team from leadership, marketing, sales, product, engineering, operations, HR, and finance.”
To gather insights, the team talked to industry experts and analyzed statistical reports to narrow down a potential of 80 markets to three. Werry conducted several interviews and enlisted the sales team to do the same with customers.
During the process they employed a rating and ranking system to evaluate each market. “We had a set of criteria to grade on, with scores for every detail,” she said. “And then, we met as a team to discuss the options once we had a base list of ideas.”
Quick Hit Short-Term Strategy
The team decided to focus their 2020 efforts on three markets and brought in outside talent to manage the business for two of them.
They also prepared a complete marketing plan that included content marketing and campaigns to nurture current customers and increase repeat sales. In addition, they focused on certain geographies to identify customers with specific power requirements.
Long-Term Strategy Development
Later in the year, Werry created a more comprehensive five-year strategic plan. “At that point, we revisited the markets that we thought were promising but couldn't do in 2020 and went much bigger.”
Again, working closely with leadership, Werry created a three-phase strategy for the long term. It included growing current markets and expanding in other areas.
Strategy Development Process
- Voice of the Customer
- Market Trends
- Business Models
- Competitive Review
- Trystar Analysis
The team used the inputs above to generate and consolidate ideas in brainstorming sessions. Then they applied a rating system that considered profitable growth, market disruption/barriers, risk/threat reduction, and the ability to implement.
Every Function Involved in Strategy
The final plan build-out included a go-to-market strategy, an offering roadmap, functional priorities, and financial impact. “So, we expanded our initial quick-hit strategy,” reported Werry.
“Every function in the company was involved in the long-term strategy. A steering team of leadership directed the development of a sales and marketing plan, an HR plan, and a financial plan as well as an outreach plan for launch.”
The long-term strategy specified three initiatives:
- Putting scalable business processes in place.
- Customer experience lifecycle management.
- Types of equipment and locations they never would have considered.
All were built around their existing strategic pillars of customer experience, innovation, and service and solutions.
The result of the engagement was a long-term plan that called for strategic expansion over five years with the potential to exceed aggressive revenue and earnings goals.
“It's still early days, but we've made significant strides in advancing the strategy that we developed,” stated Smith. “We've made significant inroads on the utilities channel and the power generation industry.”
Prepared for 2020
The 2020 plan worked well up through the start of the pandemic. Then one segment of their business dried up for two quarters. Fortunately, growth in the new markets entered made up most of the difference.
“At a time when they would have lost most of their business, they kept going,” reported Werry. “The team was set up with the right people and the right sort of mentality to pivot when they needed to.”
COVID also impacted the long-term strategy development. “Dawn recognized that we needed to pivot and consider how things were going to be different as a result of COVID-19,” related Smith. “We reprioritized our opportunities and our targets based on that becoming a reality.”
Trystar’s “Plan to Raise the Bar” developed during the engagement includes guiding principles/objectives for the company plus goals to advance the industry and promote regulations for their markets:
- Step back to think bigger and differently.
- Think about not only how we disrupt our competitors, but our current selves as well.
- Create differentiation and a more defensible position in the market in a scalable way.
- Leverage our agility - Bias it towards proactive vs. reactive.
- Create exponential growth and improve profitability.
The strategy works because of close collaboration and an engaged team. “The CEO understood marketing, was extremely open to trying new things, and very collaborative,” reported Werry.
“The company really changed in those nine months, their attitude and their ability to pivot, to think differently, and go after opportunities, versus just letting the world happen to them.”
It added up to terrific short and long-term plans and a great experience for everyone. “I would recommend working with Chief outsiders to organizations of any size,” concluded Smith. “They have capabilities that can fill gaps or augment where required for any organization.”