While the company is now owned and operated by the 4th generation, they believed they would also benefit from the fresh perspective of someone outside the family business. As part of their succession planning strategy, they hired Mark Fuss as their VP Sales & Marketing.
Currently, Mark works alongside J.C. Henry III, President and CEO of E.P. Henry, making sure that the company will remain successful and profitable as they enter their second century in business.
Although Mark had no previous experience with concrete, he has had little trouble parlaying his experience in the catalog business and his extensive marketing background into a successful venture in this industry. He and J.C. have focused extensively on applying a common marketing strategy to a product— branding-- and an industry—concrete-- that is not known for being brand-oriented.
"What we´ve been able to do is create terrific brand awareness for a commodity product. We´ve taken a piece of concrete and made it a consumer product in much the same way that Starbucks has taken a cup of coffee and branded it."
Mark says that the Internet has been integral to the success of their innovative marketing plan.
The E.P. Henry site is currently in its 2nd iteration, with a 3rd under construction. With the initial site launching 6 years ago, Mark and J.C. are early adopters of web technology, and virtual pioneers when it comes to representing their industry online.
"At that point, the Internet was still relatively new, but we saw it as something we needed to do to continue the branding."
Many businesses, particularly small and family-owned operations, are skeptical about testing the waters of new technology. They often feel that it´s best to leave well enough alone. With that in mind, we asked Mark if J.C. was enthusiastic to pursue an Internet presence for the company.
"Yes. He´s a terrific visionary. He saw it as another prong of our marketing program. We produce a full color catalog, which none of our competitors do, We´re a featured exhibitor at the Philadelphia Flower Show. We spend time training contractors. We look outside our industry at other consumer products companies as models, because to look within our industry would slow us down."
Mark feels, unfortunately, that theirs is not a forward-thinking industry. While the Internet has allowed E.P Henry to go forward, it hasn´t become a standard tool for concrete and hardscaping businesses, allowing E.P. Henry to dominate the web in their niche.
"Most concrete products producers are just selling chunks of concrete, and that´s how we´ve managed to separate ourselves from the pack and really catapult ourselves beyond everyone else."