Wholesale & Distribution International - Winter 2018 - 65
The attention Montana gives its customers through its value-added offerings is an
extension of the customer-focused philosophy the company has always adhered
to. Muhlrad is proud of how her company
provides the same level of service to any
customer, regardless of their size. "I treat
everyone equally," she says. "Just because
one customer's order has five less zeros
behind it doesn't matter, that customer
receives the same level of attention as any
Montana's services go beyond the job
site. The company hosts lunchtime sessions once a month at its Long Island City
facility that familiarize customers with
equipment such as fiber fusion tools. Clients can demo equipment and learn directly from a manufacturing representative. "We try to make sure we have training
where people can come in and do lunchand-learns," Muhlrad says.
Muhlrad has long considered herself a
hands-on owner. She's active with employees and customers, and has been
known to jump in a vehicle and drive an
order to a job site herself. But in taking
on a whole new suite of services, Muhlrad
needed to rely more on her team.
The result was that employees stepped
up and were able to provide Montana's
customers with the same level of service
and support that they had come to expect
from the company.
The result is that Muhlrad now has
more freedom to manage Montana's rapid
growth and plan for the future of the company. "I'm trying to use the time right now
when I don't have to do the day-to-day stuff
to plan for our future," she says.
Of course, leaving more of the day-today tasks to employees means Montana
must hire more people to shoulder that
responsibility. Muhlrad says she looks for
self-starters who know how to create a lot
from a little: People who have gumption
rather than advanced degrees.
They don't even necessarily need construction experience. Muhlrad has had
success in hiring people from the retail industry who understand the importance of
customer service. "I am trying to look outside our industry to find people who have
unique backgrounds and experiences," she
explains. "Having a new energy or a new set
of eyes is very helpful, too."
The addition of value-added services
and new employees has helped Montana
sail into a more open market, but Muhlrad believes it is the company's reputation
for quality and reliability that truly sets it
apart. "We've been in business 20 years so
we have a lot of history with our vendors
and customers, and that differentiates us,"
Muhlrad says. q
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