After Rock Energy Systems, formerly Lanair Holdings LLC, purchased its largest competitor, it decided to move the manufacturing operations of the newly acquired business to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania.
With no experience in relocating a business, Rock Energy Systems turned to the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership for assistance as it began to consider ways to integrate Lancaster, Pa.-based Clean Burn Inc., a niche manufacturer of waste oil furnaces and boilers, into its existing business.
Rock Energy targeted Clean Burn for its leading market position and strong distribution network as a means of complementing its existing products. The move to buy Clean Burn came a short time after Rock Energy bought the assets of Lanair, which also produces waste oil heaters.
“WMEP was able to bring a resource to the table that had experience in acquisitions and in moving and integrating companies and really guided our efforts. The talent that WMEP brought to the table was critical for us achieving what we were able to achieve,” Rock Energy president and chief executive officer Barry Brandt said.
“There really was no option for failure. WMEP really helped us stay focused, stay on track, asked really good questions and challenged us in many ways as we were moving down the path.”
Based in Janesville, Rock Energy Systems has 55 employees, about 30 of which were added in Wisconsin following the Clean Burn deal. Rock Energy specializes in Environmental Protection Agency-approved and Underwriter Laboratories-listed waste oil heaters, sold under the Clean Burn and Lanair brand names. The waste oil heaters allow oil removed from cars, trucks and heavy equipment to be placed in a tank and used for to heat structures during colder periods of the year.
In addition to shifting Clean Burn’s operations to Wisconsin, Rock Energy also brought back in house much of the manufacturing that Clean Burn had outsourced prior to being acquired.
WMEP also provided Rock Energy with marketing assistance through its partner organization Roundhouse Marketing in Verona.
“At one point we had just been buying a leads list of 100,000 names. It was basically just throwing darts and not knowing if we were actually hitting our target customer,” said Tom Francois, national sales manager for Rock Energy. “Roundhouse qualified and refined that and narrowed that list down. Now, we can look at different markets and different areas of the country. We are seeing better results.”
As a result, Rock Energy decreased its spending on direct mail by 25 percent, according to Francois.
“I’m a big believer in WMEP. The resources that they bring to the table in all the different disciplines, from manufacturing to marketing, even the transition resource used in helping us move the business, was unexpected,” Brandt said.
Rock Energy didn’t want to waste time in an exhaustive search for marketing assistance.
“I could just go to the WMPE folks and they could point me in the right direction. They have lots of contacts throughout the state,” Brandt said.
Rock Energy plans to continue to use WMEP’s services moving forward, Brandt said.
- Successful integration of two companies into one manufacturing plant in Janesville
- Creation of 30 new jobs in Wisconsin
- Decreased direct mail spend by 25%