Questech: Changing an Industry One Stone and Tile at a Time
Questech believes its Eureka! idea will not only triple the size of their business, but change their industry as well. All it took was the Eureka! Winning Ways-inspired confidence to think big and commit to trying it out. The results speak for themselves.
Questech, in Rutland, Vermont, is a leading manufacturer of decorative stone and metal tile. The company focuses on superior design, innovation, and craftsmanship. Building on founder Roger Questel’s invention of a process to cast metal objects at a fraction of the weight and cost of solid metals, the company launched the industry’s first mass-produced decorative metal tiles and remains the industry leader in that category in the tile and home improvement markets. In addition to metal tiles, the company also manufactures cast stone and natural stone tiles.
With 100 employees and the founder still in place as creative director and chairman of the board, Questech has enjoyed 25% growth annually in the last five years. Yet the opportunity to undertake a program that could lead the company in new directions and might result in exponential growth was welcomed enthusiastically.
VMEC’s Initial Growth Services Offering: Eureka! Winning Ways
Building upon the success in helping manufacturers reduce their bottom-line costs through process improvements, VMEC’s growth services help companies optimize greater capacity by increasing top-line sales. Eureka! Winning Ways was the first of the VMEC Growth Services to be introduced. Developed in partnership with Doug Hall of Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the national NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), the program is the first scientifically based process to guide companies to systematically and significantly grow their businesses. Specifically, the program provides a disciplined methodology and analytical tools to create new ideas, discover market opportunities for these ideas, and efficiently drive the best ideas into development.
Questech was aware that the number one issue customers have with natural stone tile is maintenance. In response to this, Questech developed a unique technology that addresses that concern in an industry-changing way, much in the way that Stainmaster revolutionized the carpet industry.
Within six weeks of their Eureka! Session, Questech launched a test of their new product in a large tile showroom in Albany, New York (two hours from Rutland). Early response was very encouraging, and fed the company’s spin-off of the product into a new company subsidiary and an investment in a two-year program to work through every challenge and kink in operations, production, and sales. The company aimed for a product that would be environmentally friendly, cost effective, and with high quality built-in to the process. They also developed training programs for distributors to understand the product and address every possible customer objection.
The investment has been worth it. Early rollouts in Florida and the Northeast in 2009 have been successful, and tile distributors credit the company with “thinking of everything” in advance of the launch. From there, the company intends to target other key markets and take the product national.
The sizable investment Questech has made in the product has not diminished its commitment and confidence in the long-term impact it will have on the company. “Not only could this triple the size of our business,” says Gary Marmer, Vice President and General Manager for Q-Seal, “but it will fundamentally change our industry.”