Manufacturing focused website set for early 2014 launch

story by Ryan Saylor, for Talk Business
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

While many Arkansans have come to know Greg Henderson’s work through his satirical news website Rock City Times, his next venture will be anything but a joke.

Henderson is set to launch Manufacturing Times, an online business-to-business publication, in early 2014, tapping into a vast network of contacts from his time in the manufacturing industry. He will use many of those contacts as contributors for the web venture, using his manufacturing and web savvy to launch the site and eventually branch out to provide training and consulting to manufacturers from across Arkansas.

“It’s sort of a two-part thing,” Henderson said. “On one hand, what we’re going to do is be almost like a Forbes of manufacturing. (We’ll) offer advice, offer stories that impact manufacturers, do some profiles of manufacturers who are doing things well.”

The other end of the trade publication will involve training of not only high-level executives, but also the men and women on the manufacturing floor.

“I’m going to start off making it online and then do a few local training sessions around the state, as well. So that’s going to be your basic manufacturing training, quality control, environmental training. So sort of the back end, on the floor-type of manufacturing training all the way up to (management consulting),” Henderson said. “I’m going to bring my marketing knowledge to it for marketing of floor manufacturers and do some of that higher-level CEO training, succession management, stuff like that.”

Having a background in manufacturing marketing, Henderson is hoping his experience taps into an industry that is seen by many as on the decline.

Consultant Allen Engstrom is chief executive officer of CFO Network. Engstrom said he is looking forward to taking his experience and partnering with Henderson as a contributor to Manufacturing Times.

“It’s easy to do, first of all. We’re very involved with manufacturing issues and we see a lot of things people are doing great and a lot of problems people are having and we try to leverage the things people are doing well and highlight areas needed for improvement and put them in one place,” he said. “For myself, if it means putting in some efforts to help somebody and also benefitting my business, then it’s a win-win for everybody involved.”

Henderson said the benefit many manufacturing consultants are likely to receive from contributing to his new site would be a high level of exposure to an industry in need of their services.

“A lot of these consultants, a lot of them are going to write for this very reason – they’re out there consulting in the field two or three days a week, at least. But what they don’t have time to do and what they don’t have expertise to do is market themselves. So outside of their own contacts, they really have a hard time getting their name out there. That’s just not their specialty. So in exchange for writing, what I want them to do is build some thought leadership for these people, get their name out there pretty regularly and help them market their services, as well,” he said.

Engstrom said he is looking forward to the high number of contacts he could reach through his contributions.

“It will introduce us to a new group of companies that we haven’t seen before,” he said. “There’s a lot of businesses there that we haven’t been in touch with.”

While manufacturing consultants will be contributing two or three stories per month, they will also lead training seminars both in person and online. Engstrom, whose business helps small to mid-sized businesses with accounting, said it is the specialized expertise that he and other consultants will bring to Manufacturing Times and its training sessions that will help the company carve out a niche in the increasingly competitive online media market.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunities there, things we learned along the way that would be easy to convert into a training course,” he said, again adding that contributing and providing training will help an industry that has shed almost 38% of its workforce since February 1995.

But as with any business, Henderson is aware that he will have to find multiple revenue streams to take his idea from a dream to a profitable business. He said there are plans for at least two other ways to monetize the site besides conducting training sessions.

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“Yeah, of course there will be the training. And there’s probably some level of advertising. And I’ve had people say if we do webinars, they’d actually buy up some of those leads from the webinars. You know, buying a list of people who’ve attended a webinar if they agree to have their name given out. That’s a possible revenue stream.”

As with any new business, Henderson said the key to success would be remaining flexible.

“I’m really just going to go with this and see what happens. Luckily, this is not the first website I’ve set up, so I can keep money as lean and as tight as possible and do most of this on my own. If money opens up, then certainly I’ll expand things. But if it stays lean, then I’ll probably keep (the operation small),” he said.

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