Rebranding For Growth After an Acquisition

Building Brands Ep 35 - Alex Keogan - Rebranding For Growth After an Acquisition

Alex Keogan, President and Owner at Eaton Brothers shares his story of acquiring Eaton Brothers in 2020 with his partner, what factored into their decision, why they chose to immediately rebrand the company, and the long-term value the rebrand will provide them.

Episode Links
Find Alex on LinkedIn
Visit Eaton Brothers Online

Episode Transcript
Tim
Welcome Building Brands listeners. For Episode 35, I’m joined by Alex Keogan, President and Owner at Eaton Brothers. Eaton Brothers takes pride in the products they offer because they know the pride that their customers take in their own lawn and gardens. And this episode out shares the story of acquiring Eaton Brothers in 2020. With his partner, what factored into their decision why they chose to immediately rebrand the company, and the long term value of the rebrand, we’ll provide them enjoy the episode.

Tim
If you’re an owner and marketer and the building materials, manufacturing, distribution, or contracting spaces, looking to set up your brand for success now and in the future, this is the podcast for you. on this show, we talk about brand and market strategies used in the real world that grow companies and truly connect with consumer audiences. So sit back, listen in, and let’s get to it.

Tim
Okay, welcome. Alex Keogan, President and Owner at Eaton Brothers, thanks for coming on the podcast. Happy to be here. Cool. I actually know Alex through local connections and Eaton brothers, which is the company that he recently acquired with his partner are Luminus clients. So we work together in that aspect, too. So to tell people a little bit more about yourself, why don’t you introduce where you came from professionally, which I know doesn’t exactly align with what you’re doing now. And then a little bit about how you found your way into where he brothers is in the industry, which is the outdoor material supply industry.

Alex
Sure. So I have a very strange background. And I’m sure everyone has a weird background. But I came out of law school, as a corporate attorney in Buffalo, doing startup work, and then mergers and acquisitions for a while five years, and decided that that was a little bit too stressful, a little too many ups, and the ups came with big downs. So I decided I wanted to buy business for myself. And in between, I worked at a company called Hadley exhibits, which does 3d marketing, for lack of a better term trade shows and museums, super cool company. But I really wanted something for myself. So when my partner, Rob, approached me to say, Hey, I think there’s an opportunity here to buy a business. I was 130%. In right away. And so a year and a month after that conversation, we bought Eaton brothers.

Tim
Very cool. What and what are you doing in your role? I know you have a partner, obviously. But what are you doing in your role to guide the company? Yeah, so

Alex
it’s a small company. So we have 12 employees. So as air quotes, President, I do all this sales stuff within the company. So attend trade shows, figure out pricing, figure out new products, streamlining, older products, and I also do the marketing for whatever that is right now. So yeah, we are seven months more, we bought the business in September of 2020. So we’re still in the foundation building phase of the company. And we can get into that a little bit later. But at the first year post acquisition, we really want to focus on building out the foundation for growth.

Tim
Yeah, let’s talk about where it came from, though. Talk about Eaton brothers as a company. What was the history of the company? When did it start? And what have they been doing pre acquisition? What do you manufacturer, who do you make products for?

Alex
Yeah, so the company started in 1934. And it’s been a bunch of different things. Throughout the years, it started as basically a hard goods manufacturer, and supplier. So basically, what you would see on the store front now is like an Ace Hardware, and then transitioned into a manufacturing turf for a bit and the 50s, which I assumed was just a horribly toxic, awful thing, not in our current location. And along the way, we got into cemetery products, bulk bags, tree care, and kind of settled in in the last 30 years into Houma garden. And that’s where we’ve been since the 80s.

Tim
Yeah, that’s a lot of pivots over the history of a company too. And even Yeah, even in its current iteration, the last 30 or 30 years you’re talking about now, it’s it’s so many products, segments have been incorporated into what Eaton offers the market that there’s almost it’s almost like a cluster of everything that could potentially offer someone.

Alex
So our primary focus is home and garden which means we sell landscape fabric, burlap, poly, propylene sheeting, and the tree care supplies. So if when you cut a branch on a tree, You spray our product on the wound, to seal it off from bugs and such. That’s our primary focus. Secondary focus is twofold. One, bulk bags. So think the big bags that farmers use to store grain store and transport grain, or somewhere customers stores milk byproducts in bags, and they use a ton of bags, and carbon silicate, a bunch of weird things. And then the cemetery division is one of the oldest divisions in the company where we manufacture vases that go next to a plot that basically you turn over so that you can mow over and without the flowers, getting the vase thing getting full, very weird, niche market. That’s, you know, I would say 10% of the business, but a totally different approach, then both the bulk bags and Houma garden. That’s very bizarre.

Tim
Yeah, who are you approaching? What primary customers do you have? Are you going business to business and trying to find like partnership type customers? Or do you deal with end users? Or? Or how do the homeowners play into this? are they buying through retail? What’s that sequence look like?

Alex
Yep. So we primarily do, I want to talk and talk mostly about the home garden sector is through distributed networks, okay, and independent garden centers. So we’re not in what the industry colloquial term is orange, and blue, which is a Home Depot and Lowe’s. Gotcha. But some of our friends in the industry, mess with target and Lowe’s, and they just do insane volumes. And it’s so tight, and you need to be you need to add your shit together, for lack of a better word to really excel in that space. So for the past 20 years, we’ve been dealing with distributor networks throughout the US which have been great, it’s it’s solidified our market segments and supply chain to a point where it’s very comfortable to date. And we’re trying now to get into the the b2c platforms. So getting our stuff on Amazon and eBay and Walmart, but not really Walmart, because they suck in Shopify, and your own storefront to get more margin, but also control the end user experience, right? So when someone uses our tree care products, I don’t you know, they can’t go back to Amazon say, Hey, I have a question about this, or the right post in the Questions section. But who knows who’s gonna answer it? When we can do that more direct things, people will call us and say, hey, how do I do this? Or what’s the deal with this? And that’s a much better control of that customer journey. And I, I like that, every time we get a sale on ecommerce, it’s like, oh, yes. $3 I’m talking about and like, our distributor will ship like $10,000 worth of bulk bags. It’d be like, she’s gonna love the truck. It’s It’s a weird dopamine hit every time we get an online sale. And it’s, it’s an adventure. It’s been pretty cool.

Tim
Was there any end user directors sell to end user experiences before you guys took over? Was it all distributor base before and now you’re trying to incorporate more direct sales as part of your foundational work?

Alex
Yeah, the short answer is there was no direct consumer sales before except during the summer on Fridays. Walk in. guys say, Hey, you guys sell burlap. Right? Like, Yes, we do. What do you want? And we have to sell them like a $35 thing. And we never have change. That’s Fridays in the summer. It isn’t, you know, another part of the adventure.

Tim
I gotcha. Well, let’s talk about how you actually acquired in brothers. I think that’s a nice, I want to get into brand too. But let’s talk about what decision making you went into it. I think there’s a brand angle, as well as multiple business angles, of course, for what might interest someone in acquiring a company. So there’s probably a couple points you can bring up on that. But what were you just I guess, to start, what were you looking for? Straight up just in a company that would Garner your interest to acquire like what what interest Rob to bring it to you to talk about let’s get in on this?

Alex
Yeah, so there’s a couple of things I’d like to talk about. But in terms of Rob coming to me, Rob is is a I like to say a down in in kind of guy, but he’s really focuses on he’s a he’s an engineer used to work for space in defense company, very detail oriented, focused on the manufacturing. I’m an up and out kind of guy. I like to focus on the bigger picture. The sales the meeting people talk big Sacher guy, right. So those two L’s come together to form a nice little square, where we cover both our bases. And I work with Rob before, decade ago at a company, and we’ve maintained friendship since is, so it just kind of came together in a really nice way. But when it came to looking for a company and what we would consider a good venture, it was all about opportunity. And what what is something that we know we can grow, and even brothers is, is or is still, right? It, it’s a company that the owners wanted to keep it small. So they declined work at times. And there’s products that they just fell off, because it was too hard to manufacture, where both Rob and I are young and adventurous and want to get dirty. So we’re bringing those back. And we hate to say no to customers, and we want to grow, and we want to provide more opportunity for our employees. So when it looks when we look towards the company, we didn’t look at financials past two years, we said, you know, as long as they’re stable, and as long as we’ve got a diverse customer base, I’m comfortable going into this, because it’s a simple enough market to understand on any garden center, you can kind of see the lay of the land and say, Oh, yeah, this is a absolutely enormous market that we have 0.01% of there’s only opportunity on the table.

Tim
Yeah, they’ve been around for almost 100 years, too. So now you’ve also got, you know, it’s pivoted multiple times over that that timeframe to write but you have some level of continued success, or at least to your stability point. It has had its ups and downs, but it’s always come through. The other thing, it’s probably, I might be putting words in your mouth, but you’ve you’ve probably based the strength of their customer relationships off of that, too. I’m sure some of the customers have eaten brothers have been around for decades.

Alex
Yeah, sure. Yeah. Independent garden centers, even locally ran like there’s a couple incredible garden centers in and around Western New York lab accounts in Clarence East amhurst. area is the Tesla of garden centers. It’s beautiful, it’s clean, there’s cool products that people are like, phenomenal. And we’ve been dealing with them for a while. So it’s, it’s those kind of people that interests you. But what when we talk about the brand and what we, in terms of like due diligence on acquiring a brand, it’s very difficult to assess a small brand, like even brothers in terms of the the staying power of brand. And then the previous owners weren’t marketing geniuses. But they were smart enough to acquire a couple businesses along the way. So one of the brands that was acquired in the 2000s was Walter Reed Clark, which was literally a guy named Walter Clark, and he had a whole tree Caroline. And he came to Gary, the former owner was like, Hey, I don’t want to do this anymore. Do you want to buy the business? It was actually a trick because he owed a bunch of money to a bunch of suppliers. And so we we brought in that business, but kept all the things that went along with Walter Clark, and that brand cachet was strong, especially intriguing, which is very niche industry. And so with Wall Street, Clark came the wall three o’clock name, it came tricoat, which is a trademark, which there’s another story there, the trademark lapsed a year ago. And when we bought the business, it had like the USPTO had not given up the notice that it had lapsed to us. So we had to rush and recertify that trademark Trowbridge is which we have no idea where that came from. It’s the apostrophe s so maybe a guy named Trowbridge developed it. So you’ve got all of these little pieces that maybe some consumers identify with. But we don’t really know. And they don’t know that even brothers is Walter Reed Clark. So for a while, it was just business as usual, Walter Reed Clark, but our address, so people would search on the interwebs Walter block, and that website lapsed. I don’t know a decade ago, so some contractor in Michigan, named Walter Clark has that website. So where do they go? How do they find us? So that kind of due diligence to get back to it was very difficult. say, Oh, yeah, this is a very strong market. You know, consumers know us, we couldn’t really say that. All we can say is, I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. And let’s experiment with it.

Tim
So you’re about to take over the company, what are some of the first things you’ve mentioned a couple of times, building the foundation, what, what are the elements of building the foundation that you wanted to dive into right away.

Alex
So coming from an m&a background, the biggest thing about taking over a new company is setting the tone. So every company has a culture, whether you think your company does or not, you’re, you’re wrong, if you think it doesn’t, in the culture is incredibly important to respect. And as you come in, you cannot expect to change a culture immediately. So we started with foundational things with how we want to run things, and we want to run things efficiently and clean. So one of the things that we did, right up front, and this isn’t like a big thing, but we rented two dumpsters and threw away two dumpsters worth of trash, it’s like business spring cleaning. Exactly. And that set the time that like, we don’t want all this superfluous stuff, it just gets in the way, it brings everybody down it subconsciously. And it sets the tone, right, we were in here every weekend cleaning, painting the walls, putting up art in, like we print bags here, bulk bags, and I printed some of the designs that we had made over the years on paper and frame them in the hallway. So like the feed center down the way, like rage across the street, we printed something for them. So we put their logo in our hallways something that we’ve done before, it really cool. But it sets the tone that we’re not trying to make change. But this is who we are now we are a more professional thought out company experience.

Tim
Yeah, and that experience isn’t just internal to you, you’ve also now have to sort of re onboard the client experience as well.

Alex
Right. So and that’s continuing to happen. One of the weird things about taking over in the midst of a global pandemic, is you don’t get to see your customers normally, right. So usually you transition and then go immediately do a trade show and see all of the good people that you’ve always interacted with that know the previous ownership and there could be like a literal handshake, to transition. But this time, it was like, hey, we’ll send out a letter. And we’re only gonna really send a letter to our top. So and so customers, and then everyone else kind of figured out along the way. And it was really difficult, it still is to not see who we normally interact with our first trade show is coming up in early June, where I’ll actually get to meet the people we buy from and start setting that tone of, hey, we’re a new company, essentially, we’re implementing processes that will make your life easier, or bringing in new products. And here’s the reason to get excited about who Eden brothers is now.

Tim
Yeah, and you mentioned a quote unquote, a new company, right? So you also are working with us to do a rebrand to so we can dive into that as well. What What led you down the path of saying we have a historic company, we’re taking it over? It sounds like you’re trying to make it your own, what interested you and actually pulling the trigger on doing a rebrand to help with your sort of, I guess re presentation back out into the industry?

Alex
Yeah, it it sets the tone. Right. So as we approach the marketplace, in this global pandemic year, we’re coming at him in a new way, and saying up front, where they don’t even meet us. It our new branding is much more aligned with who we want to be. Whereas the old branding, I mean, there’s multiple reasons for this. One of the primary reasons up front is we are the biggest logo we had of our old logo was like a 248 by 248. png file. And that’s all we had to work with. Up front, we need to do a lot of work to get on the branding page. So we needed to do something there anyways. So we didn’t think the old logo was really representative of who we are trying to be. So when we go into a relationship and set the tone upfront with our presentation or whatever, it sets it very clearly upfront that this company is With it, at least

Tim
that’s the hope you’re trying to make that first impression count, especially since if it’s with existing customers, you want them to realize how serious you’re taking it and what carrier you’re putting into on with new customers, you want to present that professional and put together vibe that you’re coming from.

Alex
Right? And and when we think about what we do, we sell independent garden centers and garden centers are all about that trust factor of you know, you trust the garden center to give you the right things to help you grow. And our packaging on the shelf was scattered, you know, I talked about wall three, Clarke being like, five different things. And you know, burlap is up there, we get three state kits. And it’s all kind of a jumble of things where if we put all our products on the shelf, you would maybe think that there’s a couple different companies represented. So part of rebranding is unifying our brand message, so that we can, you know, talked about that platform of growth, having that base platform to say, Oh, yeah, this is this is an Eaton brothers product. As we look to newer products, bigger products, different products. As soon as we add it, it’ll be a clear, yeah. Oh, yeah, this is a really product. It’s clearly got this product files, the brand guidelines, which is, you know, goes through our heads, we were looking on a shelf for consumer things. But subconsciously goes through the consumers mind like, Oh, yeah, that’s part of this.

Tim
Yeah. to them. It’s familiarity to you, right, we followed all the rules, and it looks good, right? This is aligned. Even the product placements of the current Eaton brothers labels, because we haven’t gotten that far yet. There’s even multiple representations of Eaton brothers across the product labels and everything in packaging, too. So do you feel like when those all and it’s not going to all happen at once, but over time, all these things will be aligned? Do you think that doing that, especially from a point of sale standpoint, as well as probably the direct to consumer standpoint, too? Is that part of a growth step? Is it just personal taste, at this point? A little bit of both? Where Where do you think the value will lie in doing that visual alignment? That presentation tightening up that presentation?

Alex
It’s a good question. When we showed the logo variations to the previous ownership, we said, Hey, you know, these are, these are the new logos that we are thinking of. And here’s why we think they work in certain situations. They are the mindset that like go to market with anything doesn’t matter. You can go one, two, or three, all people care about in this marketplace is that you’re going to give them a quality product, Time after time. But to me, like I need that familiarity, and comfort, and it throws back to our roots. And so that all went in in the design consideration. And like I need to look to it on a hat again. Like I I want to, you know, when I go and search for cool, small companies, like their merchant, please look at their merge, you know what I got said a half that I want to buy?

Tim
Yes. When you mentioned the nostalgic part of this too, you didn’t want to actually depart so far from the old brand as well. And I think there’s a couple of points to make there, too. We see this with family owned companies as well, where you don’t want to abandon the history just in the sake of modernizing the look and feel of the brand. So that was very important to we we actually went through multiple types of historic or nostalgic styles, but put them together in a very modern layout and lock up. So you’ll see that with generational companies, new acquisitions, I think they’re very similar nature and how you could approach reshaping the presentation and the tone of the company to gain confidence with your existing customers and new customers. But it was something you wanted to keep in there was the nostalgia and the throwback to the history of the company.

Alex
And I think that’s part of the trust thing. So when you walk into an industry like ours, where it’s physical hard goods in a setting where it matters, that they’re good quality. The longer you’ve been around, the more people subconsciously know that this is been around since the 50s. Like Well, it probably works. And these guys probably have their shit together. Whereas a startup in the pruning compound space would be weird and not really trusted by the consumer. So having a logo that immediately stands out as these guys have been around for a while. was important to us.

Tim
Yeah, you just want one that looks good and also has a vector file and not a PNG buried in an Illustrator file.

Alex
Now, people really appreciate different different layouts of logos, it’s amazing. Already, we’ve been able to do so much.

Tim
So you talked about some of the just to kind of touch on some of the points up you made, you did want to modernize logo both in this format. And in this look to kind of meet what you and Robert doing. You did want to you want to to unify what you’re doing from a point of sale standpoint, too. And then also, you wanted to make sure you carried over the history into what the evolution of eating brothers is, rather than the complete change of eating brothers. So that was all very important. And those, those are things that give you the tools to start doing the product line expansion, the direct to consumer sales, and increasing your retail partnerships.

Alex
Yeah, and the direct to consumer sales has been an adventure for us in that like it’s it, this scope of it right now is equivalent to a very small lawn garden center. But it’s a much broader category, that it has a ton of potential that we’re not tapping into just yet. Thankfully, we’ve been able to take like baby steps into the category, one of our biggest hurdles is not getting there first. So our distributors have put our stuff on Amazon before us, which means it’s mislabeled, the pictures suck. There’s a lot of information that we cannot touch. Because, according to Amazon, we are not the owner of the brand, even though we are even brothers, and it’s sold by Eaton brothers who like that, and that’s all free Clark. You can’t touch them, like, dang it. So we’ve had to learn a lot of things there the hard way. And as we approach the new brand, it also gives us an opportunity to do new new PCs, to just come up with a totally, you know, air quotes, new product to list on Amazon, that phases out the old ones so that we’ve got total control over what we were selling and how we’re doing it. Which is far more important than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t really know anything about it. But it’s been pretty crazy. So as we look towards that vertical, having a brand that people can see on Amazon be like, yeah, I trust that, as opposed to like, dang Zoo Manufacturing Company Limited. Clearly Chinese knockoff product they see all the time on Amazon, you’re like, it’s only five bucks, I’ll take a risk. You know, ours is more expensive. But it’s a trusted brand with multiple five star reviews. And they’re like, yeah, that’s that’s the one I want to get. Because I don’t want to waste time.

Tim
Yeah, you mentioned photography. So I’m just going to bullet point that you good photography, along with the good brand is what the package of the visuals are that you want for your presentation. And, you know, when you’re talking about multiple, like Amazon, you have multiple products in a search result. The ones with good photos are where people turn to multiple good photos, good angles, and all sorts of application usage, photos, those are the ones where people gain confidence in you’ll see more reviews on those more purchases go through those. So that’s a big deal, too. The other thing that you worked through, and this is something I’m just going to throw out there, because I know we did it was we actually didn’t just do visual brand work with you, we did a little voice and tone work too, because we are redoing web presences for you. We’re redoing some literature pieces for you. And we want those to also sound unified, too. And you’re trying to define the tone of the company, right? This is something that helps actually literally define the tone of the company.

Alex
Yeah, you know, I was in airports marketing before, and we’d always done stuff for companies that already established the voice and tone or their voice and tone was really obvious. So working with Saint gobain, it’s pretty clear, you know, what we’re trying to get across and how we’re going to get it across. When you do it yourself. It’s a it was a really cool experience, because we knew, let’s say 50% of what we wanted the company to be. But the team asked the right questions to say well, well, you know, if your brand personified somebody who would it be and you know, to me, it’s Joe the gardener, which is an Instagram influencer, he does gardening, it’s just like a really down to earth cool guy. You know, it’s like, he would be like your dad, but like, you’re smart dad. Your dad’s not smart, but like the guy who really gets gardening he’s really passionate about it. And like that’s the kind of people that we aspire to be is like that, you know the influencer in the tree care market. We want to provide our customers with everything they need to make sure they have healthy trees, and they want a beautiful garden and how can we get him there? And so questions like that were really cool. And then the voice and tone. Overall, once it was completed, when I was reading through it was like, No, no, this is exactly what we wanted to convey. And our brains simple, right? Oh my god and stuff, it’s not life threatening, we’re not going to the ring. It’s not anything that anyone will die about. So having that confidence in the voice and tone was really nice. And I’m really excited to, to use that as a foundation. Moving forward to, to see what the website comes out is and future branding, even products, right like this is aligned with who we are? Or is this kind of outside the scope of what we do or what our customers think we do.

Tim
I love the way that you put it, you did have it in your head already. You just didn’t know how to personify it and you didn’t know how to define it. So all you know, you worked with test and Kelly on our side for that right. All we did was help guide you the right questions to get the right answers out so we could format it and make it usable for you. And then of course we’re using it to

Alex
Yeah, and you think those conversations are like long, hard conversations and really introspective. But it wasn’t, I got I knew what we were going for Rob knew what we were going for, we had talked about who we want to be when we grow up and the products that we want to do a ton hours and hours. But we never put it in a way that sets the tone in a way that brand guidelines and voice and tone. Does those really interesting, but also easy for us to do.

Tim
Let’s kind of put a button on this part of the topic. What do you think that having done some of this foundational work will do for you moving forward, what’s the value you’re going to get out of it short term, and then maybe longer term if you if you’ve thought that far through.

Alex
So I have a list from a trade show virtual trade show we did in December of like 5000 lawn and garden centers. And I wanted to send them a direct mail piece early in the spring to say, Hey, get your orders in now. And so I was thinking about it. And I was like, you know, our website is trash. It doesn’t personify who we are our logos in development. I have to wait. Because a they’re gonna get this thing and then come back to us in three months when they’re ready. And be like, is this the same company. And so when we look at sending out the next communication piece to these people, I want it to personify who we are, and what they can expect right away. And so setting a voice and tone document like this, and a new website, and a new logo up front gives the consumer this confidence to say, Oh, these things get their shit together. You know, let’s, let’s give him a shot. And that’s all we want. We want one shot to give them product at a competitive price. So that we can blow their socks off. Yep. Awesome.

Tim
Now bigger picture. Just looking forward. How do you think the outdoor space for your material supply and being part of that Home and Garden segment of the industry? How do you think that’s going to shift over the next few years?

Alex
So 2020 has been a absolute boon to the industry. I think everyone that we’ve talked to, we have a small group that we talked to that are similar companies, ours, they’ve been so land, people are working 20 hours a day just to fulfill orders, you know, a guy who sells turf in Texas, and he cannot keep up with demand. People are focused on their homes. And it’s showing in the marketplace, to the point where things are out of control on uncertain things like everyone’s heard, it’s a better investment lumber than Bitcoin. Crazy. And so everything that we’ve read all the people we’ve talked to don’t expect that to stabilize until 2022. Right? And so what does that mean for us? Do we? Do we grow in a way that aligns with consumer habits now or consumer habits in 2022? And what does that mean? For us? We don’t have a large enough market share to to look at the movers and shakers we like oh yeah, we’re one of them. We have so much opportunity on the table that anything we do will be an improvement. So setting ourselves up for a little bit less crazy supply chain will be nice. Everything that we’ve done since we bought the business has been unprecedented, buying containers that are triple the price. The demand has been crazy. So the way we buy things, the way we do things will continue to be smart moves. But the industry itself will, hopefully, use the resources it’s gotten from this boon, to propel itself into a better future. And I think that’s a really, really good space to be in, right? Like, you’ve got a bunch of people who are fresh on, you know, maybe cash flush, doing new things. There’s a whole segment of population that has now turned attention to their lawn, and said, I care about this. And that’s not going away anytime soon. Hopefully,

Tim
it’s, it’s interesting to you that 2020 was very transitional. I mean, obviously, you bought a company, someone sold their company, you have older generations wanting to get out of their company, because 2020 was just, it was like, yeah, last straw, I’m gonna hand it down, have someone else take over, there’s a lot of transition in the industry happening with that transition a lot of people are modernizing to so now you have more direct to consumer need, you have companies all starting to do modernisations, everything’s becoming more digital in terms of customer interactions. There’s a lot there. And it’s hot and heavy right now, it it will likely stabilize a little bit. But I think what’s happened though, is that the habits will remain, even if the prices and demand shift a little bit, the habits of how we interact with people still remain.

Alex
Yeah, so I think about this a lot and think about how, in our modern society, everyone has access to selling online, so much so that it’s hard to hear the signal through the noise. And the thing that sets you apart, has to be well thought out, you have to be doing the right things, you have to be investing in SEO, you have to be investing in something that propels your brand, to the forefront of the consumers awareness. And it’s so hard to do when everyone else kind of knows what to do the same as you. So setting yourself apart with a solid foundation that allows you to grow consistently, is critical. And part of that’s branding, part of that having good processes internally, to make sure that you keep inventory, part of that customer service, which we are really good at. But it’s not something you can teach easily. You can’t always answer the phone or bubbly mood and say, Hey, you know what, how can I do? How can I help you, maybe I’m in a bad day, or like maybe the customers pissed off at something.

Tim
Yet brand itself is going to become more and more important. This is probably something I could do my own episode on soon. But with how companies like Apple are restricting cookies, and there’s ad changes for what operating systems are allowing for tracking, you are not going to get the same, quite the same response from things like paid and tracked ad targeting anymore. And what’s going to happen there is no longer can you force yourself in front of people, you need to become something that they seek out. And that is brand that is optimized content that is content generation. And that is making your name what they search for, versus the thing that you do or sell what they search for.

Alex
Right and and we talked about the the e commerce thing being the very hard to stand out. And that brings us back to a we’re in a ton of independent lawn garden centers throughout the US and and as people go online and say, Well, I’m getting so much information that I don’t know what to do. I’m just gonna go down to lab cats and see what they tell me to do. And as long as we’re in there and have a physical presence on the shelf, they’re like, Oh, well, this is what I can get this today, for the same price, I can get it online, it’s a no brainer. So I think those independent garden centers are will be the signal and all of the noise and you’re going to see a bit of a rubber band when it comes to the e commerce thing. At least for some products, right? Like your random stuff you get on Amazon that’s easy to get on Amazon will forever be that way. But for specialty niche products like tree care or landscape fabrics, it’s pretty common and easy and a good idea to go talk to a professional who knows what they’re doing and say, Hey, what do I get here? How do I do this? And that’s what your local garden centers for.

Tim
And I will say from a business standpoint, and a selling standpoint, if someone’s searching for burlap covering, they’re going to search by price as their leading factors as their commodity and brothers They’re going to search based off of product need and buy from. So there is when people search and brand name becomes what their first thing to look to is, price is not the selling factor anymore. It’s Do they have the product or the service that I need, if they’re selling for the product, if they’re searching for the product or service, it almost always leads with price and then goes to brand and who the company is. So that’s going to become a big point over the next five to 10 years where we got away from it because digital allowed us to skip that step. But with digital and privacy restrictions starting to constrict on the marketing industry, digital marketing industry, you’re going to see that come back tenfold. So something to put out there, I’ll talk about in a different episode. But a good tangent that we hit right there. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you want to bring up before we wrap up?

Alex
I think if you’re considering buying a business, the one thing I didn’t say upfront is that the best thing about owning a business is the financial freedom and personal freedom that it gives you, you do have to do everything you want, when you want to do it. And part of that’s like I want to I want to rebrand a company. That’s awesome. And if you’re ever interested in the process of buying business, we’ll go into it, what kind of person you need to be personality, how to look over, give me a call, I’m happy to help anybody kind of figure out what they want to do with their life if they want to buy a business, how to go about it, how to look, etc.

Tim
Alex keogan business acquisition life coach, there you go. Before we wrap up, where can people find out more about you? Especially since you just put that olive branch out? And then more about Ian brothers?

Alex
Yeah, you can contact me directly or through LinkedIn. Eaton Brothers, our website is eatonbrothers.com. That’s b r o t h e r s. And the new site will be live in a couple of weeks so don’t go there yet. Or go there now and then see the transition to your astonishment.

Tim
Awesome. Well, thanks for the time this was a good convo. Thanks for sharing the story.

Alex
Happy to be here.

Tim
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