Donald Byres | Dec 12, 2016
It is such an honour to be the recipient of this year's Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the 2016 Burnaby Business Excellence Awards! This award recognizes a company for having demonstrated a highly entrepreneurial approach to launching a new business or a new initiative within an existing business with significant results in key business metrics.
Receiving this award is an incredible honour and I would like to thank the Burnaby Board of Trade for the recognition, the judges for their consideration, and of course the sponsors.
I would like to thank John KARAYEL from BDC for his continued support and for nominating us for this award. I am thankful for the whole team at CPE Systems for their hard work and dedication.
Most of all I thank our great customers for their loyalty and continued support.
It has been an incredible journey, here at CPE systems.
I had some pretty bad timing and expanded in 2008 just before the stock market crashed and the Canadian dollar tanked.
We struggled for few years and almost shut the business down. In spring 2011, we closed the doors on the Surrey shop and moved into a smaller location in Burnaby; there were just three of us left.
We struggled with our old business model for a while longer but knew we needed to make a dramatic change.
The turnaround started in 2012 with internet research conducted in the evenings. We found a discussion forum (www.Probrewer.com) for craft brewery owners and brewmasters and we started offering free advice on pump repair and operation.
Shortly thereafter we received a request for a recommendation for a new pump from a brewery in Ohio. Of course, we offered to sell him a pump. Which, not surprisingly, lead to Banjo, the operator of Probrewer, requesting us to pay for further advertising and sales conducted through his site.
We decided to continue to advertise there; it was a great decision and we quickly sold a few more pumps.
Tony and I would build the pumps in the evening and Tracey would ship them the next day. One or two at first, then we made a leap of faith and built 10 carts at once. It seems funny now to only build 10 pumps.
We soon realized that we had a tiger by the tail – well, maybe a house cat, but regardless, what we were doing was working.
We also realized that most of our sales were no longer local and our potential market had grown exponentially. With over 3000 craft breweries in the US and Canada, we needed a better way to reach our customers. We set up an e-commerce website and commenced selling the popular pumps online.
The product we sell was once viewed as a custom engineered piece of equipment; yYou go to your local dealer, decide what you need and he would build it, with maybe a 6 or 8 week lead time.
We chose to apply the 80/20 rule; 80 percent of the applications could be looked after with just a few pump models. Now we stock large quantities of these popular models; we sell hundreds of these pumps and are able to deliver them in just a few days.
We took a commercial product and sold it using a retail online sales model. The success is more than we could have hoped for.
We continue to build on the success by adding complementary products, while still using the same sales model and making the purchase simple and easy for our customers. Sales have tripled in just a few years and there are now 8 of us working at CPE Systems.
We and looking forward to expanding in 2017 and continued strong sales growth.