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Streamlining efforts boost Bunting sales

By: Roger Renstrom

January 18, 2013

HOLLAND, OHIO -- A web strategy and data syndication service is helping Bunting Bearings LLC of Holland improve efficiency and boost sales.

"We have seen many more export inquiries" from countries in the Far East, Europe and the Middle East, said Alistair Brixey, Bunting vice president of sales and marketing.

During one year of using a new website, Bunting's annual revenues increased $500,000, Brixey said.

Among its nine product lines, Bunting sells engineered plastic bearings in 28 categories. About 1,350 of Bunting's 30,000 standard products contain plastics.

Upon joining Bunting in October 2008, Brixey saw three challenges. Product data was stored across departments and physical locations, often only in print. Bunting also needed to engage engineers unfamiliar with the company, as older engineers were retiring. And the firm needed to work more effectively with its distributors.

"It was too big a job for me," he said. Brixey approached Thomas Industrial Network Group, a business of New York-based Thomas Publishing Co. LLC, for help. Thomas' enterprise solutions team compiled product information from different Bunting databases and, using its Navigator Platform web technology, created a central repository that included two- and three-dimensional computer-aided-design models.

The comprehensive data resource provided Bunting with the basis for an Internet marketing strategy. Bunting can share data within the company, with distributors and other partners for their websites and print catalogs, and directly with end-use customers.

Thomas created Bunting's new website using parametric search technology. The fully interactive online catalog improves accessibility to product information. A prospective customer's engineer can download and insert a Bunting CAD model into a proprietary design.

Thomas also overcame a disconnect between Bunting software and the distributors' varied digital format requirements. Some distributors use a standardized format file for product and price information, while others have unique formats that fit internal business systems.

Initially, Thomas delivered Bunting data on 8,000 products and CAD models to one of the bearing maker's largest industrial distributors and loaded content into the distributor's enterprise-resource-planning system.

The constant availability of downloadable CAD drawings eliminates a process that previously required Bunting engineers to spend hours customizing a design for a prospective customer. The website catalog can anticipate and answer most questions from a prospect and speed the sales cycle.

Plans are under way for Bunting to syndicate its product data and CAD models to other distributors.

Bunting's data has become a powerful asset, Brixley said. Inquiry-to-sales time is shorter, and "customers coming to us know what they want," he said.

"In two years' fully up and running, we have seen a 10 percent increase in the sales of plastics components," Brixey said.

Bunting employs 270. Its facilities are inHolland,Mansfieldand Delta,Ohio, andPortage,Mich.; distribution warehouses are inHouston;Cerritos,Calif.; andBirmingham,Ala.

One of the company's major suppliers of plastic components is Jade Engineered Plastics Inc. ofBristol,R.I.Brixey said Bunting and Jade "work very closely together."

Processes at Jade for plastic bearing production include compression molding; six-axis twin-spindle load/unload systems; high-speed two-axis computer numerical control turning centers; and four- and five-axis milling centers.

Some bearings are produced from DuPont's durable high-performance polyimide-based Vespel 21 resin, Brixey said.