In our third year, we reflect on the many accomplishments and milestones achieved. It’s also a good point to take stock in who we are as a company and where our value lies. Since the launch of Tethr in 2018, we quickly realized, for it to be successful, it would require dedicated focus and resources. As a result, a small group of employees, lead by former Foundry26 President, Sam Hampton, separated and became its own entity. This is a testament to the innovative spirit and committed efforts of the Foundry26 team, but also the concept behind why it was formed originally: help solve the unique needs of those in unique industries.
Expanding our product offerings and entering new markets was a central theme for 2018. Foundry26 began working with companies with similar structures to Caterpillar; specifically dealer/OEM organizations. We found that commonalities exist, even if the project lines are different. We launched several new products that combined technology with in-the-field needs of dealers and the customers they serve.
The shortage of qualified technicians in the equipment industry is real and of significant concern to those within it. While there are many facets to addressing the issue, two of the most immediate are: 1) how to get new technicians up-to-speed as quickly as possible and 2) how to retain those with experience as long as possible. Tethr was developed to address these needs heads-on through a video collaboration system that connects those in the field who need technical assistance with someone remote who can provide it, Since it’s launch in August, we quickly found numerous other uses for what has been dubbed the “show me” industry, which is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years.
Foundry26 was officially established as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carter Machinery. While traditional marketing communications was the initial focus, given the large amount of collateral that had been developed for Carter and could easily be repurposed, it quickly became apparent that data analytics and visualization was another significant need by dealers. As is often the case with mature organizations, dealers have no shortage of data. However, it’s often disparate in nature and housed within systems that have been specifically engineered for the Cat world. This means, finding people who understand these systems, let alone the data within them, is a challenge. Fortunately, Foundry26 had a great deal of experience in this regard. From sales rep scorecard dashboards that allow optimizing sales team effectiveness to predictive analytics that identify which customers are more likely to buy equipment in the upcoming months, Foundry26 was able to apply data science to the needs of the business.
Like other start-ups, Foundry26 came about through the recognition of an underserved need. Caterpillar Inc. has a worldwide dealer network totaling more than 150 independently owned dealers. While each has different geographic territories and unique industries served, there is also a great deal of commonality. In addition, the business has vast nuances that make it make it difficult and time consuming for a typical marketing agency to learn.
Carter Machinery, the Cat dealer in Virginia and southern West Virginia, recognized the importance of having strong marketing capability and invested correspondingly in areas such as branding, advertising, data analytics and customer experience. In the summer of 2016, the company decided to conduct a test of mass media by developing a TV commercial (watch it below) promoting the affordability of Cat compact equipment. While the ad had some measurable success in promoting this product, it caught the eye of other Cat dealers who were also trying to promote to this segment.
When Carter started receiving requests by other dealers to use the commercial in their own territories, the light bulb went off. Could a company be created, specifically tailored to the needs of Cat dealers, with the mission of bringing good ideas to market faster and more collaboratively. Foundry26 was born.