Creative Marketing Drives Sales at Little Rock's Laser Tools Inc.

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Jun. 24, 2013 12:00 am  

Billy Goodnight is part of the crew of machinists working for Laser Tools in Little Rock. The company is one of several laser manufacturers in Arkansas and primarily serves industrial clients. (Photo by Jason Burt)

OEM clients represent some of Laser Tools’ business, but not all. Another manufacturer, AGL Lasers of Jacksonville, has revenue of about $6 million per year and is similar to Laser Tools in that it performs design, manufacturing and sales. But Jennifer Fairchild, the company’s site manager, said AGL isn’t in direct competition with Laser Tools simply due to serving a different industry. AGL sells laser leveling devices to the construction industry, but differs in that its products aren’t used in hazardous environments.

Employee Model

Finally, Wortsmith strives to differentiate Laser Tools with a work model that emphasizes training employees in all aspects of the company’s business, making sure they are adequately compensated and rewarding them for continuing training.

For this reason, Mayerhoeffer said, finding workers to perform the company’s rather specialized duties hasn’t been too tough.

“Today in Arkansas we can find very good people to work with, no problem, as long as we want to train them,” he said. “We teach and train each other. Part of the training that everyone gets when they come on board is how to build a laser.”

“Early on, we determined that in order to be successful, I needed to get the smartest people around me,” Wortsmith said. “How do you keep them?”

One element of employee retention was decent pay. Wortsmith says he keeps top-level management pay level at a level proportionate with the rest of the business.

“Everyone here is gainfully employed,” he said. “As long as we can maintain that and stay in the black, I don’t need a bigger boat.”

Another part is the aforementioned training, and furthering that by rewarding employees for continuing the training on their own time. The company provides quarterly bonuses based what value the workers can bring to the company. Employees can take classes in a related field, for example, and the bonus will go up.

“Everybody is able to do the job of other people when they’re missing,” Mayerhoeffer said. “In a big corporation, you’d never see that.”

Christy York, the company’s accounting manager, said she gets to work with clients and has helped out in the machine shop. Adjusting to the company’s emphasis on learning multiple skills was difficult, she said, but the end result was rewarding.

“I’m not stuck at the accounting desk,” she said. “It helps a lot with morale and the comfort level of the company. It’s totally different than anywhere else I’ve worked.”



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