David Hackbart of Promat Service Ltd, in Winnipeg, Manitoba is a busy man. When the weather gets bad, the Promat team gets busy. In the mat business, winter is the time for all hands on deck. David had been working until 10PM the night before but he graciously took some time to chat with us about the business and then he was off on more customer detail.
David’s parents, Leona and Sig, started the business under the name of Provincial Mat Service Ltd in 1973. The company’s name was changed to Promat Service Ltd, in 2010. The business is family operated with Sig serving as CEO, Leona as Account Executive and CFO, David as Sales Manager and daughter Andrea as Marketing Manager. David said they prefer “to work on the business, not in the business. The winter season is especially demanding. We are proud of our Promat employee family and we all work together to make sure every customer receives the matting and janitorial support they need during the entire year.”
The seasonal aspect of the mat business brings challenges but overall, 2014 has been a good year for Promat. “Once a customer experiences the value of our service and what we have to offer, it’s not difficult getting them to give us a try. But then we need to keep them by giving them the outstanding customer service they need and deserve” David states.
A quality product from suppliers such as Mountville Mills helps. David indicates that the Water Hog Plus mat from Mountville Mills is a popular item. When customers see how it traps snow, slush and sand they are sold.
Promat Service maintains that supplying specialty high quality matting is a ‘win win’ situation.
They use a consultative selling approach, pointing out the payoff of cleaner premises and reduced janitorial costs as a result of using mats. In addition, they make customers and prospects aware of the significant safety benefits provided by commercial matting which is heavier and not as likely to buckle as retail mats.
Other than long work hours in the winter months, the seasonal aspect of the mat business has other challenges. David relates that many customers will burn through their budgets during the demanding winter months and cut back on service during the spring and summer. During the slower spring and summer seasons, David and his RSR’s will focus on direct sale of mats and paper products.
The paper product business is a crowded and competitive area so David’s team targets customers that do not have full time janitorial staff. Often times they will be dealing with employees and administrative assistants tasked with going out on their lunch hour to purchase supplies.
Promat adds value by offering a few SKUs of high quality products that are much superior to the typical discount brands that clients often purchase. “We can show them that spending a few dollars with our service gets them a superior product and one of our delivery persons will deliver it and put it anywhere they like.” Time is money, and offering this service instead, allows employees to focus on the job that they were hired for.
Although, Promat Service has been in business for over forty years, they are also keeping up with current retail trends with a growing online business.
Promat’s business is primarily mat rentals with a small percentage in custom permanent and Logo mat installations. David mentioned that they had recently supplied some large permanent lobby installations with logos for financial institutions. “The custom matting installations are absolutely gorgeous and really do give that cutting edge image of professionalism while at the same time maintaining safety from slips and falls”.
Networking is one of the keys to finding new customers. David credits many of the ways he has met and established a good business relationship with customers has been through local business networking associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, WCBA, and Business Management Owners Associations. This has given Promat the opportunity to forge relationships with the decision makers. They are exactly the people that want and need Promat’s services.
The Hackbart family enjoys the benefits of the good relationships they have developed with their customers and they also benefit from good relationships with their competition. David says “Although Winnipeg is a growing city, it is in many ways a small town. After 42 years in business we do cross paths with others in similar business that pursue the same clients. We will win some clients and sometimes they will. We do strive to be competitive. We will not undercut prices to buy the business. It is just not a good long term strategy for us. We do not want to compromise our customer service nor our product. In some instances the goodwill between us has helped us better serve our customer.”
Creative problem solving, expanding markets, keeping inventory current with evolving product quality, customer service, a lot of hard work, long hours and respect for the bottom line and relationships, have proven a winning formula for the Hackbart family and Promat Service for over 40 years. 2015 promises to be filled with just as many opportunities for the Promat Service team to provide cutting edge matting technology to take care of dirt, slush and sand so customers can focus on their business which is the essence of the Promat motto: Stop Dirt at Your Door. We make it Easy!