AutoCustoms Ocala, Florida
“The Internet has been an integral tool this whole way, and I see that becoming even more important going forward.”Stuart Compton, Founder & PresidentAutoCustoms has 142 employees.link www.autocustoms.comWhen Stuart Compton, the founder and president of AutoCustoms, decided to turn his lifelong passion for automobiles into a career, he knew two things: He wanted to start his own business, and he wanted to keep it in his hometown. “My wife grew up in Ocala, and I've been here almost half my life. It's a great, great place to raise a family,” he says. The third thing he knew was that he would need to use the Internet to be innovative as an automotive aftermarket retailer. Since opening AutoCustoms in 2005, delivering everything from running boards to truck bed covers, Stuart has leveraged the power of the digital economy to grow his business into a career for not just himself, but for his employees.
Stuart years ago researched how AdWords, Google's advertising program, could turn a small start-up's advertising budget into big results. Nothing has changed since. “We really look for a big return for any Google program that we’re using,” he says. He attributes 70% of their 2015 sales to AdWords. AutoCustoms expects to hit triple-digit growth in coming years thanks in part to Google tools. In addition to AdWords, AutoCustoms also creates YouTube videos to inform customers and build brand awareness. Google Apps for Work’s suite of workflow tools like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets helps to keep the company running and everyone connected, which is particularly important because they plan to add an additional 40-50 employees by the end of 2016.
Stuart measures his true success not by sales, but by the prosperity he helps bring to his Florida town. “We are able to create jobs, good jobs—fun and fulfilling jobs. It is gratifying and rewarding,” he says. “’Exciting' is an understatement for what the community's response has been to keeping the talent pool in Ocala.” Google is helping AutoCustoms continue to be a shining example of what’s possible, from anywhere. “The world is a big place, but with Google and these tools, you can reach them.”AutoCustoms has 142 employees.link www.autocustoms.com
DiscountMugs.com Miami, Florida
“Google is our largest and most reliable source of new customers.”Randy Wells, Chief Operating Officer1,000 employees worldwidelink www.discountmugs.comWhat company doesn't want its logo on t-shirts, mugs, sports bottles, and other giveaways? In 1995, Amin Rahman Ramjee envisioned a company that would disrupt the promotional products industry's inefficient, multi-tiered supply chain and learned that the Internet was the perfect tool to achieve his goal. He started a business in his living room, that became DiscountMugs.com in the early 2000s. "We import blank products directly from overseas, print in-house, and then sell directly to customers online," says Amin R. Ramjee, Chief Executive Officer. "Traditionally, promotional products companies had large sales forces and catalog expenses. Online advertising allows us to easily reach a wide variety of customers and offer the best pricing in the industry," says Randy Wells, Chief Operating Officer.
They've used AdWords, Google's advertising program, "since it first came out," Amin says. "AdWords has contributed tremendously to our business growth." Their website features YouTube videos that display products at different angles, so customers know exactly what they're getting. "You just can’t do that with a paper catalog," Amin says. Google Analytics helps the company make smart, data-based marketing decisions. "It's a very powerful tool that allows our marketing team to dive into the detail of our online ad spending," Randy says. "Online marketing is the heart of our business and drives our growth.” They plan to expand their social media presence to extend their reach.
The company has experienced 30 percent growth since its founding, with plans to hire another 50 employees in Miami by mid-2015. "This is a true American success story," Randy says. "The Internet allowed a guy in his living room to push out products with great pricing to the market very efficiently. Now we have a 343,000-square-foot building and 1,000 employees worldwide." Amin's story should inspire other web entrepreneurs: In 2014, Ernst & Young named him Entrepreneur of the Year for Florida Distribution and Manufacturing. "We strongly believe our business model will allow us to continue to grow," Amin says. "Prior to the Internet, this would not have been possible."1,000 employees worldwidelink www.discountmugs.com