Breaking new ground (literally)

How making a better shower pan lead to overflowing growth.

By Ellen Linnemann 

2020 was an unpredictable year with truly unprecedented challenges for all businesses – and KBRS was no exception. The Hardeeville-based company was founded in 2005 to provide customers with a better, leak-free, shower base. Company founder Tommy Davis was unhappy with the inferior, leak-prone shower pans available at the time and engineered, and later patented, a process for manufacturing custom shower bases by applying his knowledge of shaping surfboards, advanced composite materials, and the solid construction employed in professional surfboard manufacturing. Over the years, the company has steadily grown and expanded – now manufacturing a wide range of advanced leak-free custom shower systems for both residential and commercial applications throughout the United States.  

But it’s what happened in 2020 – and how this local company met the business challenges of the pandemic head-on – that not only helped KBRS keep its head above water during these tough times, but showered it with unprecedented growth.

“This year, more than ever, we really tried to focus on the voice of our customers, and really listen to our customer base in order to provide both the products and service levels that our customers need right now,” says Tony Sferlazzo, director of operations at KBRS. “We’ve always been committed to best serving our customers, but the added intimacy of each of our partner and customer relationships that we built this year was truly critical in helping us find solutions for them. That in turn not only helped our customers during this challenging time, but was critical in our own growth.”

In addition to focusing on the voice of its customers and an emphasis on “cost to serve,” there were a number of other strategies that KBRS put into play this past year that likely played an important role in its growth. The first was to focus its messaging on the specific health benefits of its leak-free custom shower systems. No shower leaks means no resulting bathroom water damage – helping people avoid the unhealthy, and often dangerous, mold and mildew that often results. Reaching today’s health-conscious consumers with messaging about its products that truly matters to them sets KBRS apart.

“The health benefits of our leak-free shower systems were always something that we talked about, but this year we really focused on emphasizing how KBRS can help people live a healthier lifestyle by eliminating bathroom water damage and the resulting harmful mold and mildew,” says Craig Carlson, director of technical services at KBRS.  ”Not only was our shift to focusing on healthy living timely, but it truly helped us to create a stronger and more cohesive brand,” he notes. “Stepping it up by working with a local marketing agency to not only craft the overall messaging but produce much-needed new marketing materials such as brochures, sales kits and attention-grabbing eblasts truly helped us, not only in our overall branding but in generating new sales.” 

The team also had the agency work on a comprehensive marketing plan that had definite KPIs and benchmarks to hit a targeted sales plan. Company leaders also got  involved in the right organizations and began really looking at the “bigger picture.” 

Both Sferlazzo and Carlson also point to another key factor that they believe had a major impact on their growth this year: a re-vamp of their social media. The amped-up efforts not only provide a wide range of value-added content in conjunction with the new healthy lifestyle messaging, but truly engage with both existing and potential new customers and create new “buzz” for their products and services. “Our focus on health and healthy living has truly resonated with our customers, and our increased social media efforts have proven to be a great way to not only reach them with this messaging, but engage with them in a way we previously hadn’t. It’s building stronger relationships and generating additional sales.”  

Looking back on their growth in 2020, and looking forward to hopefully even more growth in the year ahead, Sferlazzo and Carlson have advice for other companies entering a growth phase for their business at this unprecedented time. 

“By focusing on the ‘voice of our customer’ to form more intimate customer relationships, adjusting our messaging to fit today’s times and really stepping it up a notch when it came to our marketing and social media, we were able to truly grow both our existing business and even expand into new markets,” notes Carlson. “The lessons we learned in 2020 not only have put KBRS in an even better position as we move into 2021, but offer insight to other companies seeking to grow at what is most certainly a challenging time for businesses today.”

Surf’s up
You may not think of surfing when it comes to bathroom showers, but KBRS founder Tommy Davis did just that. He engineered a process for manufacturing custom shower bases by applying his knowledge of shaping surfboards.

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