The material processing specialists at SMETEC Services in the Shoalhaven maintain an ongoing relationship with ICN NSW as part of their networking and growth plans.
When you operate a material processing business with a fairly niche client base, building connections with the right people is essential, but not always easy.
This is the case for SMETEC Services, a specialised material processing and product design business on the south coast of NSW. As Director Louise Smeets explains, marketing and maintaining an online presence as a mainly B2B organisation is a challenge. “We have recently updated our website to showcase our capabilities, but having started our family business from scratch, it has been a long process to get local customers on board,” says Louise, who operates SMETEC Services alongside her husband Tim.
“We haven’t found any value in Facebook or Instagram for this specific business,” Louise adds. “It’s hard to get exposure on these platforms to the kind of people we want.”
While they work with a broad range of clients, including individuals who “come in off the street” and local engineering/fabrication workshops, it is larger jobs like defence industry contracts that SMETEC Services has its eye on for the future. In order to be visible to this target audience, Louise and Tim have developed a relationship with ICN NSW.
“Because we are in a niche market, ICN NSW has been a helpful networking tool for us,” says Louise.
“We have used it to get our name out there. We are a small company but we have the right skills to be able to reach our goals and we do want to take on bigger projects in the future.”
A single contract can be a game changer for a small business in the manufacturing industry, which is why Louise and Tim make sure SMETEC Services has a presence on the ICN NSW platform.
“It’s an important element when you’re looking at getting into the sector. We have learned a lot about networking and about making sure the right people know the right things about us, and ICN is a great way to get that across,” says Louise.
Having an ongoing connection at ICN NSW has made a difference to Louise and Tim’s business. “We connected with (Regional Manager) Beti through the Illawarra & Shoalhaven Defence & Industry Group. She has always known what we are doing.”
“We have a profile on the ICN Gateway platform and we always touch base with Beti and keep an eye out for updates. The more she gets to know us and is aware of what we can do, the more she can send things our way.”
“If there is anything interesting going on in terms of upgrades to our capabilities or things like that, we let Beti know. We also see her at various networking functions and events.”
Being based locally means Beti has the opportunity to act as an ambassador of sorts for SMETEC Services. “She is very supportive of our business, even though we are in such a niche market,” says Louise.
Being proactive this way means SMETEC Services is likely to be notified when there is a relevant local project and reduces the risk of missing out to another provider because they weren’t aware of the job coming up.
According to Beti, who has been able to visit the SMETEC factory in person, Louise and Tim are an example of an Australian manufacturing business that is on the right path. As she explains, “I watched this small local business create clear strategic goals, focus and grit towards assuring service capability for defence and being rewarded with contracts to deliver.”