Three months ago Seprotech made the decision to hire Kevin Bloodworth.
The Ottawa-based company has developed, built and distributed water treatment and waste water management technology since its founding in 1985 but until Bloodworth, had never had an employee dedicated to developing its marketing strategy.
It’s led people away from the credibility and capability of Seprotech Systems and it’s certainly distracted people from the moral and ethical foundation of this company.
On December 10, Bloodworth was hit with an added challenge when Seprotech announced it could not release its annual report on time to meet securites laws. On December 29, the company announced that the delay was caused by overstated revenues in the previous three quarters due to overbilling a large client. According to the Ottawa Business Journal, the Department of National Defence has stepped forward as being this client.
Seprotech released an update on January 12 saying the client had agreed to be credited for future bills from Seprotech. Bloodworth says he cannot comment on whether this will affect the financial statement balances in the past few quarters but says his job is to make sure it doesn’t effect future ones.
“It’s a distraction. It’s led people away from the crediblility and capability of Seprotech Systems and it’s certainly distracted people from the moral and ethical foundation of this company,” he says, addressing that Seprotech found the billing issue through an internal audit and brought it to the client’s attention.
“My job is to not be distracted by the speculation and to stay focused on market development and cultivating new relationships that will allow us to absorb these types of distractions,” he says.
SHARE PRICE HIT
Before the error was announced, Seprotech’s share price was trading around $0.06. The share price dropped to $0.02 after the announcement but was up to $0.035 by this Friday’s close. Bloodworth partially attributes this recent gain to the launch of a new website last week – a component of his new marketing plan.
He says he doesn’t think the financial slip-up will have any long term impact on the company.
“If anything it’s enhancing my position,” he says.
Bloodworth has been given the title of director of sales and marketing and his position, which has not been officially announced, is expected to be made public any day.
A lot of companies don’t want to make that two to three-year investment in time and resources. Seprotech seems very keen on that which will be a recipe for success.
As a marketing expert, Bloodworth says Seprotech’s solutions have never been properly positioned in the splintered water treatment market, where many companies offer similar services. He says its his goal to raise Seprotech’s brand to be top of mind for its target audience.
“Everyone’s telling the same story. Over time you just have to elevate yourself by offering new technologies and more advanced resources and products,” he says. “What drives me every day is that the world doesn’t even know [about us] and we’re right here in Ottawa. Consistency and frequency is the key. If you want to succeed and you want a viable sustainable company, you have to have the systems and models in place to create that.”
Paulina Barnes, a senior trades consultant at the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation has worked to help Seprotech penetrate international markets and says she is impressed at how the company has responded.
“A lot of companies don’t want to make that two to three-year investment in time and resources,” she says. “Seprotech seems very keen on that which will be a recipe for success.”
Marc McArthur of Ottawa’s Centre for Research and Innovation says the addition of Bloodworth to the Seprotech team was a critical investment.
“You could have a great technology but if no one knows about it or if the opportunity can’t be framed with the correct terms – and marketing professional and business development professionals tend to be the folks that are able to do that – then the technology goes nowhere,” he says.
Before hiring a marketing director, Seprotech relied strictly on sales people knocking on doors and building the brand through word of mouth. Bloodworth says when he came into the company the website was ineffective and its existence was virtually unknown.
A lot of organizations have great ideas and great success stories and they have no idea how they got there so there’s no way for them to duplicate their success.
The reduction of the amount chemicals that are needed to treat water and the amount of energy that’s required in that process sets Seprotech apart from its competitors.
Important players in Seprotech’s target market include engineering consultant firms such as Black and MacDonald. Bloodworth says before he approached the firm it wasn’t aware of what Seprotech offered. This company’s Ottawa office is located behind Seprotech’s corporate offices on Holly Lane.
Bloodworth is also making sure to build relationships with key organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and OCRI which named Seprotech as Ottawa’s Cleantech company for 2010.
McArthur manages the Cleantech initiative at OCRI and says he nominated Seprotech for the award because of its great work in Ottawa.
“We have a specific focus on Seprotech partly because its local but also because there is a certain elegance in the solution that they’re providing,” he says. “The reduction of the amount chemicals that are needed to treat water and the amount of energy that’s required in that process sets Seprotech apart from its competitors.”
Barnes says CMHC is also very interested in clean technology and thinks its a growing market.
“They will be able to truly expand with a strong strategy, having support and connecting to the right people,” she says.
TELLING THE CORPORATE STORY
Aside from these relationships, Seprotech is also fostering brand awareness through flyers, posters, lunch and learn sessions and presentations to keep a conversation going between the company and its potential clients. Bloodworth says this effort is essential for Seprotech to break through to the next level of success.
“You can’t just wait on the market,” he says. “It’s not about the market. It’s about you and what it is you’re going to be doing everyday, every week to have the results at the end of the year that you need.”
He says this is where many businesses fall short. “A lot of organizations have great ideas and great success stories and they have no idea how they got there so there’s no way for them to duplicate their success.”
To ensure Seprotech understands the reasons behind its successes, Bloodworth has implemented a detailed goal sheet for all the sales managers and regional managers to help them effectively set goals and analyze achievements.
“My internal term is seprology – the science of marketing Seprotech,” he says, “and it is a science, it’s not whimsical. No company that had any success got there by accident.”
Bloodworth says the company’s audience has grown significantly since he joined Seprotech. “That precedes sales- it has to,” he says. “I’ve often said Seprotech is the best kept secret in Ottawa.”