For its first 40 years, Marlin Steel Wire Products made exactly what its name implied--steel wire baskets. A few years after I bought the company in 1999, we made a major transition from building steel wire baskets used primarily by bagel bakeries to making steel wire baskets for much more specialized, high-tech clients in fields like aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals.
That proved much more fruitful, but we kept exploring. We always canvass our customers for feedback and a few years ago noticed that some seemed frustrated because they sometimes had to wait for a second vendor to produce the sheet metal portion of our wire containers. Often, we were just as frustrated ourselves. We’d move like lightning to produce a basket order but then have to wait weeks for someone else to do the sheet-metal finishing touch. All that hurry-up-and-wait was painful.
I’m a big believer in feeding the niches that appreciate you. We pour resources into our strengths and take them from our weaknesses. Discern a pattern where you’re successful and focus on that. Concentrate on how you can be more appealing to those promising niches. Make massive investments in a certain area. Be No. 1 in that zone.