"We're very good at what we do, but we're in a mature, cost-competitive market," said Allen Brue, owner of Quick Start Products. "The question is, 'with a few modifications, could we make something similar for a whole different industry and generate new sales?'"
With help from a team of IMEC specialists and Quick Start employees, Brue was able to answer his question through the intensive Innovation Blitz process. "I was drained when I got home. I didn't realize how impactful it would be," he said.
The Innovation Blitz begins with the formation of a team consisting of 12-15 people from both inside and outside of the subject company. "Having the perspective of business leaders from outside the company brings a whole different dynamic to the process," said Cathy Frint, Team Leader and Illinois' developer of the Innovation Blitz process. The team considers the company's strengths and creates criteria for marketable products that will differentiate them from the competition. "It energizes the company participants to know that others are interested in helping them be successful."
The second step includes a tour of the plant where guests observe the manufacturing process and form opinions about the company's products and services. Select members of the company workforce also take the tour, looking at their employer from a fresh perspective, rather than from their own single area of expertise. The team then re-convenes to discuss the company's core competencies and then generates ideas for new products and services.
The third step involves the identification, prioritization, and implementation schedules for the best ideas. Once these ideas are prioritized, the company can move forward with a plan of action. By focusing on what a company does well and thinking creatively, the Innovation Blitz helps companies discard their limitations and discover new opportunities to stay competitive.
"I was very impressed with the process," said Brue of the ideas that were generated. "For instance, one of our ether products has applicability in certain types of medical equipment. Plus, we're looking at tapping the small engine sector too. It's very exciting."
Brue estimates that even if his company implements only 3% of the ideas, Quick Start will be far more competitive and diversified. He and his team are currently determining which ideas are actionable, and establishing timelines for implementation.
IMEC is a not-for-profit organization established to help improve the productivity and competitiveness of Illinois' small and mid-sized Illinois manufacturers. IMEC's team of experienced specialists has help manufacturers streamline production, contain manufacturing costs, integrate advanced technology, and become world-class competitors. Annually, IMEC provides assistance to more than 400 manufacturing companies. For more information about the Innovation Blitz and other services provided by IMEC, please visit http://www.imec1.org or call 1-888-806-4632.
CONTACT: Tucker Kennedy, VP Marketing - IMEC, +1-309-677-4633; or Allen
Brue, Owner - Quick Start Products, +1-815-562-5414
Web site: http://www.imec1.org/