The Powder Keg started serving customers in 1975. Some things have not changed, like our focus on superior customer service. Many businesses have come and gone; TIME is the corrector of businesses that are not able to adapt to market changes. We believe less in the survival of the strongest but more in the need to adapt to market changes.
2 years ago we recognised that businesses that focused on marketing only were falling off the bus because the world of marketing had become noisy. Advertising prices increasing and conversion rates falling. We recognised that social media was not what it used to be, the space had gotten “crowdy”.
In searching supply partnerships we considered companies with a strategy in ” its all about the product” and manufacturers that practised continuous product improvement. We were not interested in the delusional marketing bullshit of lifetime guarantees because the quickest way to go out of business is to be trapped in returning product overseas for repairs (unhappy customers and administrative burdens).
The correlation we found is that manufacturers of gear that focused on having the best product value had been around for many years. Proof again that TIME is the ultimate corrector of the market place. These companies differentiation was in their product and not in their marketing.
We questioned companies about their differentiation. We wanted to ensure that we represented gear that was different in reality and not in perception. People say that perception is reality, maybe for 2 years but certainly not for a longer period of time. It has always been about making good product better.
The Powder Keg represents exclusive lines for wholesale and here are the reasons why. In any product there is normally 1 competitor controlling the line share of the market; all others fight it out for the scraps. In this framework competition is for losers. At The Powder Keg we will not be in the noise (competition), rather we must and will be different in product value and service.
Another subtle difference at The Powder Keg, we focus on value over fame. The gear we choose must deliver the highest value in terms of price-to-performance. We are not chasing short term marketing hype but long term success which requires word of mouth testimonials. We could not rely on word of mouth at the beginning but it is fast becoming our best friend.
We focus on specific brands and not a multi brand strategy. Suppliers and The Powder Keg committed to mutual exclusivity AFTER each party had satisfied themselves about the others ability to deliver on needs. Primarily suppliers needed to know that The Powder Keg was customer eccentric and we needed to know that their product was best in class.
We biased to focus vs. diversification. Often businesses motivate diversification in order to spread their risk but more often it is because they do not know what works for them and feel a need to try everything. This is the reason we spent years upfront choosing a product portfolio and being prepared to hold until the brand we wanted became available. We able to ignore stuff that does not fit our strategy.
Did we make all the right decisions? Hell no but we able to adapt when needed because we never take positions. We learnt how to say NO (saying yes is easy – jabroer). Where do we need to improve? We need systematised processes that are machined and machined again. For reliability we need to remove human interventions. We need to improve our metrics and tracking systems. We no longer operate in the cowboy era!