president and CEO of Sentry Equipment, with some
of the testing equipment the company produces.
OCONOMOWOC - While many manufacturers
struggle to grow in an economy where the price of
commodities and other factors hold them back, Sentry
Equipment in Oconomowoc has launched a rebranding effort
and created a growth strategy to help the company
continue on an upward projection.
CEO and President Brian Baker said
despite the 91-year-old company having a great legacy,
reputation and engineering capability, its performance
was being hindered by the flat markets in which it
operates. Two-thirds of Sentry Equipment’s sales are in
the power industry, where growth is mostly nonexistent.
“We want to continue to grow and in order
to continue to grow we needed to reinvent ourselves,”
Sentry Equipment hired Trefoil Group to
help craft a strategy. Trefoil interviewed Sentry
Equipment’s customers and that information was used to
create a new brand identity.
When Baker started serving as president
of the employee-owned company three years ago, it had a
10-year strategy, but Baker said it needed refreshing.
The new strategy takes Sentry Equipment to 2024 and
addresses how to grow a company in a flat market.
“The idea was to build on what we are
really good at and expand from there,” Baker said.
“Customers told us we are leaders in our industry.”
Sentry Equipment develops machines and
technology that customers use to sample, monitor and
measure their processes in various markets and
applications internationally, including in chemical and
food processing plants.
Baker said the survey conducted by
Trefoil indicated Sentry Equipment’s customers look to
the company to be innovative and to help solve their
“We also wanted to build on how we are
respected and well-known throughout the world,” Baker
“People all over the world look to us to
solve their problems.”
Sentry Equipment exports to more than 50
countries in six continents. Thirty-five percent of
Sentry Equipment’s sales are exports, Baker said. The
company’s growth strategy includes increasing its
presence in more international markets and to also grow
Additionally, Baker said, improving
Sentry Equipment’s internal new product development is
key to the growth it wants to see.
And while there are no acquisitions in
the works at Sentry Equipment, Baker said he is looking
for opportunities to buy other companies or product
A third area that Sentry Equipment is
focused on is organic growth by taking its existing
product lines and growing them, as well as expanding
lines. It’s all about finding new ways to solve
customers’ problems, Baker said.
After going through its own rebranding,
Baker said he recommends other companies to consider
doing the same.
“I would say it’s important, especially
if you haven’t done it in a long time,” he said. “It’s
an opportunity to re-engage your customers. If you
haven’t taken a look at how your brands are positioned,
you are missing opportunities to engage customers.”
In order to better engage its customers,
Baker said, Sentry Equipment revamped its marketing
strategies, which had grown stale. He didn’t want people
to view his company as old and outdated. As a result,
Sentry Equipment hired a marketing strategist last year.
In addition to new marketing initiatives,
Sentry Equipment is changing how it’s going to market by
switching its focus from products to industries.