Blue Label Packaging Co.
Blue Label Packaging Co.’s middle name should be “Pivot.” For over 50 years, the company has kept business going by adapting to changing times. Founded to print church envelopes, they soon expanded to printing envelopes for local businesses in Lancaster, Ohio, gaining a reputation for speed, precision, and outstanding customer service. But in the late 2000s, electronic communications began taking over, and the printing business went into decline. The 2009 downturn almost put Blue Label out of business. Andrew Boyd had just graduated college, and when his father asked for help he came up with a big idea, pointing to the rise of craft beer makers with their creative, colorful, and often quirky labels. “It was a completely new line of business—and we had no room for failure,” says Andrew. Blue Label leaned on Google products to pull off its latest pivot. They didn’t even have a traditional sales team. “Our marketing strategy? Use Google Ads to drive people to our website,” says Andrew, who says that Google Ads made up 75 percent of his marketing spend. And it worked. A decade later, the business was thriving, with 90 employees and 40-percent annual revenue growth. Customers were now global, from Mexican tequila makers to Scottish whiskey distilleries.
Then COVID-19 forced many restaurants and bars to close. Those that stayed open couldn’t sell tap beer, so they ordered more packaged beer. People also tended to drink more in quarantine. Blue Label’s business shot up. Andrew’s new challenge: keeping up with demand. “We scrambled to source materials, and ran operations 24/7,” says Andrew, who hired 30 new employees in six months. Through all this, Google kept working for Blue Label. Today, 85 percent of leads come through Google Ads. Google Analytics was recently used to complete a major content audit to see which keywords and content were relevant in today’s beer industry. “And Blue Label’s Google [Business] Profile is our preferred method for reviews and feedback,” says Andrew.
Switch recently opened a second store
Drew Dearwester and Bertie Ray III were just looking to turn their love of high-end European lighting and design into a business; they ended up helping revitalize downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. When they opened Switch, a modern lighting, furniture, and design shop in the city’s emerging Over-the- Rhine neighborhood, there wasn’t much else like it. Despite the looming recession, their store helped attract a new audience to the area, and soon, other shops and restaurants followed. “Today, it’s probably the hottest urban area in the Midwest,” said Bertie. “People come here because it’s a culinary and artistic destination.” Shortly after opening, Switch secured a high-profile contract to light the historic Mercantile Library. Despite its initial success, Switch still needed to keep getting the word out. So, they launched a website and kickstarted their digital marketing efforts. “A friend of ours said, ‘You’ve got to start with Google,’” recalled Bertie, “And we listened.”
Switch doesn’t offer e-commerce sales, so it uses its website to showcase its work and tell its story to prospective clients. To boost its online presence and drive more people to its website, Switch runs Google Ads campaigns. The company also uses Google My Business to post its hours and location on Google Search and display photos of its new showroom in Cincinnati’s business district. “We attribute an increase in call volume and in-store shoppers to our presence on Google,” said Bertie.
Since 2017, the company’s digital marketing efforts have led to an 18% increase in revenue. “The web is your friend — you connect with the greatest audience through the internet and through Google in particular,” Bertie said. Drew and Bertie invest back into their local community by sponsoring concert series at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and donating money to children’s health initiatives. Switch also works hand-in-hand with local businesses to help them achieve their commercial lighting goals — no matter the budget. “We always put our best foot forward because we want our business community to look good,” said Drew. “As Cincinnati receives more visitors, we want them to be impressed with the ambiance of our local businesses.” In the next three to five years, Drew and Bertie hope to add more locations in neighboring cities and states, bringing the same level of dedication and detail that they’ve brought to downtown Cincinnati. “Our brand is solid in our regional marketplace, so we’re looking at other emerging communities that could enjoy our product,” said Bertie.
Fab Glass and Mirror
When Ahmed Mady left his job as a CPA to start a glass company, his friends and family were confused. “I didn’t know anything about glass, so people thought I was crazy,” he shares. The inspiration for the business hit Ahmed after a conversation with a friend. “We were talking about how everything is online these days. Jokingly, I said that the only thing you can’t buy online and ship directly to your home is a big piece of glass,” he recounts. “So I thought, ‘Okay, let’s try that.'” Ahmed launched Fab Glass and Mirror in 2012 to provide residential and commercial consumers with a one-stop shop for all of their glass and mirror needs. The first six orders he shipped to customers arrived broken, “but I didn’t give up,” Ahmed says. “I just kept going, trying to find ways to solve the problem.”
Today, Fab Glass and Mirror services over half a million customers a year across the U.S. and Canada. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to market their wide collection of mirrors, tabletops, coffee tables, and shelves. “AdWords is a huge part of our growth. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to reach all of the lower 48 states,” explains Ahmed, noting that over 20 percent of their sales are driven by Google ads. The company also shares instructional content, like glass and mirror installation videos, on their YouTube channel. And Google Analytics provides them with the digital insights to strategically tackle business challenges. “Being an entrepreneur is an endless journey of solving problems. Google Analytics gives us the data we need to make well-informed decisions,” he says.
With over 80 percent annual growth, Fab Glass and Mirror has come a long way since their first six shipments. What started out as “one guy working day and night out of a small storage space” is now a 24-person team. The company also works with half a dozen glass fabricators throughout the Midwest to manufacture their products. “It’s been nice to grow alongside our fabricators. We are very customer-centric, and through our partnership, they have become very customer-centric as well,” says Ahmed. In striving to become the nation’s top glass supplier, distributor, and producer, he adds, “we would like to help more glass fabricators around the country to go further than they ever expected to go.”
Richard Ward and his family emigrated from Zimbabwe to the U.S. in 1991 with only two suitcases and a small bag of toys for the kids. The day after he received his Green Card in 1995, Richard founded a company that ultimately became WARDJet. He sold his car to finance the business and by 2003 was making advanced Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines, specializing in waterjet cutting systems. “We're unique in our ability to offer CNC machinery of this magnitude, accuracy, and nature,” says Richard. With the Internet powering their customer acquisition and growth, the company is also unique in the way they do business. “There's nobody else who sells like us,” he adds.
“In our industry, companies spend a lot of money doing print advertising, attending trade shows, and sending salesmen everywhere,” Richard remarks. “I decided early on that we weren’t going to do any of those things, so I began looking for other ways to run the company.” WARDJet turned to online channels to grow their business, and AdWords, Google’s advertising program, is “the tip of the arrow.” It generates 30 percent of their leads, attracting customers who are in need of the exact services they provide. “It’s quality lead generation,” IT Manager Ken Carter explains. WARDJet also uses Google Analytics to make smart marketing decisions on a daily basis. They’ve integrated the Google Cloud Speech API with their customer relationship management system to transcribe phone calls and voicemails. And they communicate internally through Google Hangouts.
Today, WARDJet sees 25 percent annual growth and services customers worldwide. They proudly manufacture all of their equipment in a 220,000-square-foot plant in Northeast Ohio. They also buy from 200 vendors, over half of whom are in Ohio, attract top engineering talent from area universities, and support local math and science school programs. Richard is thankful for how far his company has come. “I wanted us to be different from everybody else," he says. “We've broken the mold in the capital goods industry and are now able to provide very high-tech solutions in ways many others can’t.”
Nehemiah Manufacturing Company
When they founded Nehemiah Manufacturing in 2009, Dan Meyer and Richard Palmer planned a different kind of enterprise. “We wanted to bring manufacturing into our inner city and create jobs that help people get back on their feet," Richard says. Nehemiah specializes in manufacturing consumer packaged goods, including their own products as well as brands licensed from other companies. When hiring they particularly focus on hard-to-hire candidates that most companies wouldn’t consider. They may have no work history, or a blemished record due to a criminal record, but part of the Nehemiah mission is to give a second chance to people who just need the opportunity to prove themselves.
To compete successfully with their much larger competitors, Nehemiah does most of their marketing online. AdWords, Google’s advertising program, allows them to share their message with consumers nationwide. TrueView video ads have been instrumental in reaching and educating their target audience. Running TrueView ads to support their “Boogie Wipes” product resulted in 10% sales growth, while many competitors saw a 10-20% decrease in sales during that same period due to a mild cold and flu season. Google Analytics helps them fine-tune their strategy. “Analytics has helped us be a lot smarter with our broader marketing plans, because it's helped us better understand our target demographic,” Richard says. The Google Apps for Work suite of tools, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Docs, keeps Nehemiah’s staff in touch and productive. “We can collaborate even if we aren't sitting in the same office or the same city.”
From five employees at the start, Nehemiah has grown to a staff of 110. “We have an incredibly loyal, unbelievably productive workforce,” he says. “When folks come here, they're ready to work. They give it their all. They love being part of a team.” Employee turnover in some manufacturing plants averages 80%, but Nehemiah’s is less than a fifth of that. “Everybody struggles with finding talent,” Richard says. “This is a workforce that in our country typically has been shunned or ignored. But it's one that people should seriously consider." Dan and Richard hope to double the company’s growth in the next few years. And they will continue to use Google as a partner to achieve that goal. “We can compete with much larger, multi-billion dollar companies by using these tools. Google enables a company our size to seem, and actually be, a lot bigger than we are.”