I recently sat down with Kevin Luther, owner, BlackWire Designs to talk about the company’s philosophy, celebrating 10 years, and what they attribute their success to. Part One.
Maureen Jenson: For those that might not be familiar with your company, what is the philosophy driving BlackWire Designs?
Kevin Luther: Our goal at BlackWire is to redefine the role of the distributor. We don’t just sell products to our customers; we strive to be their partner, working with them to deliver the ultimate integrated systems for their clients. In terms of technology, this means offering a hand-picked selection of hardware, pre-configured design services, and a large range of software drivers for control and automation platforms.
It also means delivering unrivalled customer support. The first way we do this is through providing a variety of online resources to help educate our customers and make their installations quicker and easier, whether it’s step-by-step instruction guides, articles, or configuration examples. The second way is through our technical support, an area in which we really excel.
Not only do we reply to phone calls and support tickets, but we also offer a built-in chat system on our website — a feature unique to BlackWire. And while other distributors limit their support to normal business hours, we are available after hours as needed to accommodate customers that may be working on projects late at night or on the weekends. We really are in it together with them, and everything we do reflects that.
MJ: I understand that BlackWire is celebrating its 10-year anniversary — congratulations! How has the company grown in this time and to what do you attribute your success?
KL: The BlackWire of 10 years ago looks drastically different from the BlackWire of today. We started out as a source for pre-configured networking products and have evolved into a distributor of solutions ranging from video distribution to irrigation systems. We’ve also seen our customer base increase steadily, and as a result have experienced consistent year-over-year revenue growth, usually a 10-20 percent increase each year. We saw a jump up to 28 percent for 2017-2018, and we are on track to do the same increase this year 2018-2019, so the future looks pretty bright.
Over the last decade, our success has been driven by a few key factors. One is the relationships we have with our customers. They tend to be more personal, and as a result I think we’re more invested in their projects than a typical distributor might be. Another is our approach to customer support. We believe it takes an installer to support an installer, and that’s why our sales and technical support teams are comprised of experienced custom integration installers. Our customers know that supporting them is our highest priority, and this helps us earn their repeat business.
Our customer support starts at our website, which really stands out for its ease of use. We offer a clean, simple tool that allows our customers to find their solution quickly and easily. But let’s say they don’t know what they’re looking for, with our built-in chat system, our team is there to assist in finding the perfect product. If they need technical support, our website features a built-in ticketing system as well. As I mentioned, we’ll even respond to those tickets in off hours. Finally, for our customers who are hungry for knowledge about different technologies, we also maintain an extensive database of informative articles and guides.
From a technology standpoint, we’re constantly evolving to give our customers something they can’t get anywhere else. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our driver offering. We are the only distributor in the custom installation industry that not only sells drivers, but also writes them. Many of our customers can’t develop their own, so we’re an invaluable resource for them. For those who can, we’re saving them a significant investment in time and money needed to do so. Another thing they won’t find anywhere else — orders packed with snacks to keep hunger at bay when on the job!
Stay tuned next week when we find out what differentiates BlackWire, the company’s partnerships and the future! Part two here.