Case Studies

P&J was founded in 1970 by Jerome Beaulieu when he left a local linen company and decided to start his own business. The company has grown over the years to become the leading local provider of entrance and specialty mats in the Southeastern Massachusetts region. The company is an independently owned family-run business competing against very large and aggressive national competititors. P&J is currently operated by the founder's sons Marc and Matt Beaulieu and son-in-law Rob Filloramo, who carry on the P&J tradition of loyalty and careful attention to both their employees and their customers.

In the summer of 1994, the owner's turned to Bejtlich and Associates for assistance in creating a comprehensive business plan. "We have always done pretty well, but it occurred to us that if we wanted to really grow, we needed some outside help and perspective" according to Marc Beaulieu, P&J company president. Also, "We definitely needed some new state-of-the-art equipment and there was no way the bank was going to assist us with needed funding without a solid plan behind us" commented Matt Beaulieu, Vice President and Operations Manager.

To begin the engagement, Mike interviewed key members of the 14-member workforce, observed all operational activities and even accompanied drivers on their deliveries. This allowed Bejtlich & Associates the opportunity to understand first-hand what the company's challenges were, especially regarding meeting their customer needs and dealing with significant competitive challenges. "Mike talked to everyone hear at P&J-he got to know us and our customers pretty quickly" according to Rob Filloramo, Vice President and Director of Marketing.

From the outset, it was clear that there was amble room for some key marketing-related improvements, starting with the name of the company. While the company name and logo were familiar sights for many in the community, few really understood the business or connected the name of the business with the work performed. "Eventually, we decided with Mike's help, to change the name from P&J Rug Rental, Inc. to P&J Services, Inc. since our marketing strategy called for diversifying into other product and services areas anyway." "Mike also helped us to trademark our logo You can walk all over us!" this was something we never seemed to get around to taking care of..."

During the fall of 1994 a comprehensive business plan was completed that allowed P&J to arrange the necessary financing to purchase much-needed equipment for their new facility based in New Bedford. The plan was first reviewed by Cliff Robbins, Senior Counselor with the Small Business Development Center based in Fall River, Joe McCardle, an accountant with Davis, Benoit and McArdle based in Marion and Chris Richards, Vice President of Lending with the Community Bank. "The plan was so strong, it enabled us to refinance our entire debt package with The Community Bank in time to take advantage of very favorable tax treatment since we were able to install our equipment by year end." In addition to helping establish a relationship with a new banker, Bejtlich & Associates also arranged for a transition to a new accountant, Joe McCardle, from Davis, Benoit and McCardle.

Mike also brought in Cliff Robbins from the SBDC, who helped validate suggestions for a revised marketing strategy including focusing on a more diversified product line, more emphasis on upselling, and more direct involvement by the owners in training, selling and retaining customers. Next came new business cards, a revised brochure and an initial website to better articulate, coordinate and reinforce the P&J message. All promotional material development arrangements were made by Bejtlich & Associates.

P&J Services still retains Bejtlich & Associates for occasional special projects and monthly budget review meetings to ensure that the company is on track with its business plan.

Jon and Michelle Pope are perhaps quintessential examples of local "bootstrappers" (entrepreneurs who get their start by "pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps" rather than relying on OPM--other people's money!…)

When I first met Jon, he was working for Shore Sails in Newport and I was a junior financial analyst up the street at Raytheon's Submarine Signal Division dropping off sails to be repaired for a boat I was crewing on. On his way to work, Jon would drop off cookies at the Middletown plant and we would pay for them at the front desk on the honors system. I remember that at one point in this "marketing research phase" that there was a request for suggestions next to the coin can. This was something I later learned was implicit to Jon's unwritten strategy for success: never fail to keep close to your customer and ask for their advice and suggestions.

From a couple of student papers, I later learned that Jon had made use of early cookie money to purchase a commercial oven that Jon and Michelle had hauled up into the kitchen of their New Bedford apartment for more productive initial baking operations. Further earnings allowed them to later secure their first Marion and Mattapoisett locations. "I've always been pretty careful about doing my research, proving a concept and not going heavily into debt" advises Jon. Instead, the Popes have relied on phased, incremental growth, and a great deal of hard work, involving many early mornings, seven days a week. "Our customers are looking for our products on their schedules, not ours, and a big part of the Uncle Jon's experience is their interaction with us and our employees when they come in" explains Michelle-"they expect to see us and be greeted in a friendly way every time they stop in."

In 2000, Jon approached me to work with him on his business plan for a new "UJ's" location in North Dartmouth near UMD. As he already had ten years of actual business experience with his first business location, we had some very solid data to work from. Working together, Jon and I pulled a solid plan together within a two-week period that enabled him to secure the necessary bank funding for equipment and refurbishment of his proposed facility. In 2005, a regular customer walked in and asked Jon if he would be interested in selling the café. "It was great to plan and build a successful business but it's also rewarding to be able to eventually harvest your business" commented Jon. Proceeds from the sale could help fund a new venture that Uncle Jon is currently "cooking up." Whatever the coming business is to be, I'm sure it will be something yummy!

In addition to providing a central gathering place for friends, family and business interaction, Uncle Jon's plays other important roles in the community. For example, the Popes provided product at cost to help start a successful evening refreshment program at Cape Cod Community College run by the Entrepreneurship Club that I helped to establish. Without their support, we could not have got the program off the ground" commented founding president Steve Smith. Another important role that Uncle Jon's plays is as an employer, especially for many young high school and college-aged students who often get there first work opportunity at one of UJ's locations.

Jon, Michelle and their three kids JJ, Nancy and Madeline, sail out of the BYC on their Shields Java Jolt in which Jon secured first place in the Nationals held at the Edgartown Yacht Club in 2004. Mike continues to work informally with the UJ's crew as well as showing up every day, without fail for coffee at the Marion location and also for occasional meetings with Bejtlich and Associates clients.
In late May of 2005, Cliff Robbins, Senior Counselor with the Small Business Development Center based in Southeastern Massachusetts, called and requested that I immediately get in touch with Chris and Jim Veglas who own and operate CBM. The company is an ISO 9002-registrered enhanced mechanical solutions provider, first founded by their father in 1971.

Within two hours of my initial conversation with Jim, Cliff and I were on our way to discuss the production of a comprehensive marketing plan with the management team to be delivered by no later than July 15th, in order for new collateral materials and a new website to be functional by early fall. As with our roles on many other plans we've worked on together, Cliff would provide guidance and support for the overall marketing strategy, and Mike would "be in the trenches" with key company managers to ensure that the job got done on time.

CBM has traditionally supplied precision mechanical components and linear motion devices. Products have previously include gears, timing pulleys and belts, shafting, bearings, couplings; and ball screw, lead screw and acme screw assemblies. Items were provided as off the shelf or complete to print with all modifications ready for assembly. Supplemental products provided include a wide range of precision fasteners, box build components, access and assembly hardware, and mobility products including casters and mounts. In addition, CBM had also provided "value added" services such as kitting, bagging, light assembly, and rail cutting.

While the company was performing well, the management team recognized that a new strategy was required in order for the company to remain competitive even in the near future. "Given the trends to outsource offshore coupled with the commoditization and severe price-cutting facing our industry, we knew we had to make changes but were unclear as to how to best implement them" commented Chris in our initial meeting. The management team decided that the best way move forward was with the assistance of outside consulting help. "We chose to move forward in this fashion in order to gain outside perspective and ensure that we kept on track, given the focus that an outside consultant can provide" explained Jim.

First, an overall organizational assessment was performed with all key members of the management team participating, using a traditional SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis. Information was first gathered individually then discussed and prioritized in a series of meetings that were considered to be exciting and hopeful by the participants. Next, extensive web-based, Lexus Nexus and publication database market research was conducted. Robert Morris Associates data was also provided through contacts of Bejtlich & Associates. All research findings pointed toward CBM focusing increasingly on the importance of its "value added" opportunities and key strategic niche industries were identified in the process.

In addition to interviewing all key company employees, Mike traveled with outside sales associates to visit key customers for further meetings. A customer survey was quickly created and conducted in order to ascertain what factors were most important in the purchase decision for clients. This data was then compared to previous ISO data in which customers ranked CBM across similar factors in terms of performance. "What began to emerge was a clearly documented pattern indicating a need to restructure our company and revise our marketing strategy" stated Eric Lavendier, Director of Marketing. Eric further added "It wasn't that we didn't know these things already-it's just that documenting these issues and working with Mike helped us to more clearly implement solutions much more quickly than we would have been able to do on our own."

After an initial two-week research phase, it became clear that major changes were needed and upper management was open, ready and willing to act. Within a very brief period of time, significant personnel realignment decisions were implemented that were essential to help transform the company to achieve its new mission. A new company divisional structure was agreed upon. This occurred through a series of intensive working sessions with the newly promoted National Marketing Director, and through formal proposal meetings off campus to the company owners as well as through meetings with key managers and Cliff Robbins to ensure that we received SBDC advice and support for the new strategy.

New sales and marketing strategies evolved and were documented through collaboration with key managers so that the marketing plan that emerged reflected true ownership and much greater potential for effective implementation. 95% of the work for the CBM marketing plan was conducted on site by Bejtlich & Associates to maximize contact and involvement working with key managers and a highly effective CBM-employed college intern. The marketing plan document was delivered on time and within the scope of the original budget.

Now that a thorough, well-documented and agreed-upon marketing plan existed on paper and in the minds of all key managers, outside web and collateral design consultants could now be successfully brought in. The design team leader's closing comments were "Your timing is tight but given the work done on your marketing plan, we can meet your objectives-it just helps us to get the job done much more efficiently when you have a solid marketing plan to work from."
In 1990, Robert Johnson, a colleague at Cape Cod Community College asked me to assist him in the preparation on early concept design work for an intriguing community-based project. The proposal was to be for an innovative housing/work/community for the homeless called Dana's Fields, to be based in Sandwich, MA.

This venture was the dream of Livia Davis Munck, whose grandfather had founded a famous community farm called Moltrup to help rehabilitate Danish prisoners begun early in the 20th century. In order to support my involvement, I suggested to Bob that we explore available Cape Cod Economic Development (CCEDC) funding through the License Plate grant program since this project seemed to be an appropriate economic development candidate. Funding would later be provided with little difficulty for my support of the project.

HAC upper management members, lead by Rick Presbry, were solidly behind Livia, and they quickly moved forward on what seemed to be an ideal tract of land. Many members of the local community were in favor of moving forward but just as many "NIMBEs" (not in my backyarders) were staunchly opposed. In one early planning session, I remember Rick commenting that "Dana's Fields will be a long up hill battle."

If Rick only knew at the time how prophetic his words would be… Five years later, Dana's Fields still faces a time-consuming and expensive uphill legal battle with its opponents. In hindsight, the project probably suffered from not having a carefully crafted strategic plan especially prior to implementation of project promotion-initial public relations were not well crafted, given the scope and complexity of the proposal. For example, as Dana's Fields encountered more and more opposition, the proposed dimensions of the project as explained in public forums changed radically. This only caused increasing confusion and skepticism with many in the local community, even for those who supported the project.

Early on in my involvement, sensing their need for funding, I suggested to the management team of HAC that they approach the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (M.O.B.D.) regarding potential training funds I knew to be available. At first mention, they did not hold much hope that HAC would be a good candidate for potential funding, particularly in view of the pervasively paltry funding environment available to non-profits at the time.

In spite of their early hesitation, I was able to convince them to at least hold a meeting with MOBD officials who were, surprising to HAC managers, in favor of moving forward with training funding for HAC. The deadline for our proposal would be very tight and HAC management needed support, particularly for the extensive financial components. Bejtlich & Associates completed this work on budget, on time and nearly $100,000 of funding eventually was received.

Another project in which Bejtlich & Associates worked with HAC involved an associated work program called O'Neil Enterprises. I teamed up with a retired executive, Tom Fredericks, who generously volunteered his services. This project would test the ability for "vetted" members of the homeless community to participate in a carefully designed work program in such activities as cleaning, landscaping and painting services.

Comprehensive organizational, marketing and financial documentation was required and Bejtlich & Associates delivered. Tom later used the plan to approach top level of executives from major corporations to seek potential funding the work program. While documentation for the plan was well received, unfortunately, the project received only a luke warm reception from the business leaders approached.

The Dana's Field project continues and HAC deserves a great deal of credit for the perseverance. Bejtlich & Associates still remains fully supportive of this innovative initiative and looks forward to future involvement.