On June 28, 2017, Desoutter, a global leader in electric and pneumatic assembly tools, opened their new North American Customer Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina to much fanfare, including a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and open house.
Among many customer-centric departments within the new facility, the building also includes a branded environment showroom called the Smart Factory Lab, designed by Holt Environments.
Has this branded environment showroom been worth the investment?
“An off the cuff estimate would be that we got payback on the investment in less than six months,” said Doug Versele, Desoutter Marketing Manager.
This impressive financial return was achieved because the Smart Factory Lab has worked well both as a showroom for winning and expanding customer business, and because the space was designed to be used for other valuable purposes, too.
The Smart Factory Lab is announced within the Customer Center with an elegant, branded exterior entry. Inside, the Smart Factory Lab features multiple product display kiosks and hands-on work areas, also featuring branded graphic images and digital monitors. The lab is divided into sub-areas for General Assembly, Aerospace Tooling, Process Control, and Project Samples.
“We have seen a fair amount of traffic through the showroom,” said Versele. “Although our customers are spread across the North American continent, most visitors are from within a couple hours’ drive. I would estimate that we get about three ‘serious’ customer visits per month, including customers who fly in to see it once or twice a quarter.”
Besides good traffic, did those visitors escalate into increased sales? “We have had several of those customers come back for repeat visits with higher level colleagues – and we have gone on to do business with many of them,” said Versele.
Desoutter improved the likelihood of their showroom paying for itself by planning to use it for multiple functions from the outset: “A major part of the justification for the Smart Factory Lab is that we actually use it as a lab,” explained Versele. “First of all, our product managers stage videos in there. Plus, our application engineers run and document experiments in there for customers in the field to reproduce unusual behaviors or validate various equipment integration concepts. Therefore, even if we never had a customer in there it would have been worth the investment.”