Getting to know Minimizer
Steve Hansen, director of marketing at Minimizer
Please briefly describe the history of your company.
Minimizer has a pretty cool story. We were started in 1984 by a truck driver, Dick Kruckeberg. He hauled machinery for Caterpillar and they required fenders so that rocks wouldn’t damage the equipment. He had just installed a new set of stainless steel fenders and when the forklift operator was unloading his trailer he slammed into the fenders. They were ruined. A few days later, Dick witnessed his wife back over their Rubbermaid garbage can and the dents popped right out. That gave him the idea for a poly fender. It took him years to develop and eventually he sold his truck and started making fenders full time in 1984.
Please briefly describe your company’s sales structure: What do you sell, who are your customers, etc.?
Minimizer sells strictly through distribution. We’re a bit different in that we advertise directly to the end user and then funnel that sale through our distribution network. We have 12 territory managers, two regional managers six customer service reps and four inside sales reps. It’s a strong team and we keep them very busy. Its no secret that we market our company and our products heavily and that marketing effort drives leads and sales.
How do you believe customers perceive your business?
Minimizer is a well-respected company with high marks from customers. We have more than 1,000 Google-certified reviews online and our average star rating is 4.5 out of 5 stars. I remember signing up for this program (TrustPilot) and it’s an annual agreement. I asked our rep, “What if we don’t get good reviews?” and he replied, “Wouldn’t you want to know that?” It was a good point. In fact, we have discovered some issues due to poor reviews and it’s allowed us to rectify them when we might have never known about it. All told though, over 85 percent of our customers give 5-star reviews.
How and why do your customers stay loyal to your business?
Our customers are loyal to us because we’re loyal to them. We respect our distributor partners and also our end user customers that buy through the distribution channel. We have a full support team in-place to take care of whatever they need. We go above and beyond to help distributors sell more and drive traffic to their stores.
What is one thing most customers/suppliers don’t know about your company that would surprise/impress them? (i.e., tell us something about your company we don’t know)
The original company name was Spray Control Systems, Inc. because the fender controlled the spray off the tires. The name of the fender was the Minimizer because it minimizes spray, weight and expense. Most people really just knew us as Minimizer though and eventually, the company became dba Minimizer and in 2018 changed the name to Minimizer.
What makes your company a great place to work?
The people of course! We really do have a great team. Meetings are fun and work is a great place to be when it’s fun. I’d like to think our customers have fun with us too and it drives business for us.
How vital is it to have quality employees entering your business from younger generations, and how are you trying to recruit these younger professionals?
Minimizer has grown substantially since I started here back in 2003. We had 11 employees when I started! I’ve seen a lot of growth and it’s all very dependent on quality employees. Recruiting is difficult for us in a small community. We work hard on our corporate image locally with charity work and staying involved in the community. We want young people to see us as a desirable place to work. We know that when we take care of our employees, they are in a better place to take care of our customers.
Do you have any advice for the next generation, as they work in this industry?
It’s a great industry ripe with opportunities for people willing to work hard. I’m sure all industries are changing and evolving rapidly and trucking is no different. Find a company and work hard. I also strongly encourage people to raise their hand and get involved. It’s a big industry but very connected. You’ll make a name for yourself and it opens a lot of doors.
Why did your company join GenNext? How can GenNext help your employees?
GenNext was very well supported by Minimizer’s owner at the time (Craig Kruckeberg) who has a passion for giving back to the industry. Craig pushed me to get more involved and he supported GenNext financially with Minimizer’s legal team, web developers and marketing team. This is what helped launch GenNext.
What are the three most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are?
Changing Minimizer from a direct sales model to selling through distribution back in 2006. I had a meeting with John Minor (Midwest Wheel) and a follow up meeting with Steve Stich (Wheelco). Both were brutally honest about Minimizer’s go-to-market strategy and the shortcomings. From there, I worked with our CEO to update our sales approach and we pulled all retail-direct sales and built a distribution network. Both Midwest Wheel and Wheelco are still top customers today.
Accepting a position on the CVSN Board of Directors back in 2014. It’s an incredible team of people and I learned a lot about distribution and the industry. I’m still very connected with the CVSN board and I’m always reaching out to them for advice.
Taking the inaugural role of president of GenNext and developing DTE. Launching GenNext was a lot of work. We literally started from scratch (a bar napkin to be exact). We needed a logo, 501C(6) non-profit status, a website, etc. We built everything from the ground up. It’s fun to see this running now. Same with DTE. This show format was unheard of but needed in our industry. This allows suppliers to meet with distributor salespeople for product training. It’s fun to see DTE thrive now for five straight years.