Downturn? Expand strategically

Published March 30, 2009 3:57 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mike Winder, vice president of marketing for West Valley-based Winder Farms, says that by focusing on customers his company has learned how to compete in bad economic times during its 129 years in business.

How has your business thrived during several recessions, the Great Depression and two world wars?

The company continues to grow by offering more incentives to get customers to sign up for our services. Also, we look for ways to make the delivery of goods more efficient. When the Great Depression hit, my grandpa and his brothers trimmed home delivery from five days a week to three. Today, if our delivery truck is already stopping at three houses on a street, we strategically deploy door-to-door sales teams and provide generous customer-referral offers in an attempt to fill in routes with more homes where we already deliver.

What did Winder do during some of the more recent recessions?

In 1958, the family began baking bread to deliver alongside the milk. During the early 1980s, Winder expanded service into Ogden by purchasing the last of Cream O'Weber's home-delivery routes. They had a number of independent delivery men who would buy their milk. My father and his cousin negotiated a deal to acquire the trucks and customer lists, and hire the drivers. The economies of scale helped us weather the storm. Last year, the company launched more than 100 products, and we also brought back milk in glass bottles and have more items on sale.

Other tips for the downturn?

When the economy slows, the temptation is to pull back on reinvesting, but it is often a time to press forward with projects to take advantage of reduced costs. Last year, for instance, Winder Farms invested in projects to upgrade its plant and improve its Web site for easier online ordering.

How do you develop a loyal customer base?

When you remember it is customers keeping you in business, and you make sure they are getting a quality product at a fair price, they remain loyal, despite the economic ups and downs.

Dawn House

Mike Winder, marketer
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