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Seizing Opportunity: Why Mueller Applied for a Grant to Attract New Business


Mueller Custom Cut Warehouse

When the pandemic and recession hit in early 2020, businesses began looking for new opportunities. 

Mueller Custom Cut sought assistance by applying for a grant to gather research on potential new markets for our services.

Here’s how we applied for and received a grant for a Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI) report and how we’re using that data to foster new partnerships.

What Is Technology Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI)?

TDMI can be used to help a business such as Mueller understand where our product stands in the marketplace and how to better position it for growth. This data is driven by using real-world insights from industry experts and extensive market research.

The benefits of TDMI include a top-level view of the market, a plan to maximize resources, and the ability to make decisions with confidence. With this data, a company such as Mueller can better understand potential markets, entry opportunities, as well as market trends and drivers.

Why Did Mueller Apply for a Grant to Get a TDMI Report?

At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill. That legislation contained funding for grants issued by NC State Industry Expansion Solutions and the North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP). TDMI research was one of the options.

Because Mueller had worked with NC State on various training and programs in the past, they reached out to us to make sure we were aware of the opportunity. The application process was simple. We filled out an online form to provide information about our business background and the industries we serve. 

The application inquired about the state of our company during the pandemic. Like many other industries, due to issues with supply chain disruption and decreased customer demand, Mueller saw a decline in business. The application also asked whether we were involved in personal protective equipment (PPE), so we shared our experience in developing our face shield, Pro Shield 1. 

How Did the TDMI Report Find New Customers for Mueller?

The original intent of the TDMI report was to help businesses such as Mueller find new markets for PPE. However, by the time we found out we’d been awarded the grant, the need for face shields had waned. That’s when the focus of the project became a broader goal of finding new markets for Mueller in general. 

The firm that facilitated Mueller’s TDMI report was RTI International, one of NC State’s affiliate partners. This company works on TDMI projects regularly to help companies find new customers. 

“Finding new markets and applications that they’re not already in that they could serve with their capabilities,” said Steve McManus with RTI International. “Where are the new opportunities they can pursue where they can get in on the ground floor?”

When it came to potential new markets for Mueller, several ideas popped up during the study, including markets shifting manufacturing back to the U.S. and markets still in the infancy stages.

The RTI consultants reached out to potential customers in these areas to promote Mueller and offer introductions. When the conversations seemed favorable, the firm would connect Mueller to the contacts that had been established at these businesses—such as purchasers, buyers, and supply chain managers—so we could follow up.

Why Was Obtaining a TDMI Report Helpful for Mueller?

The Mueller Team has a continuous improvement mindset. We are always looking for better ways and new opportunities to serve customers. As the RTI consultants were gathering information from us to seek out clients who would be a good fit, we were able to take a fresh look at our business from an outsider’s point of view. This enabled us to begin exploring markets we may not have considered before.

The timing of the TDMI report was important in correlation with the pandemic and its effect on the economy. Mueller was looking for ways to adapt to the situation to try to boost business, but we were also searching for solutions that would allow us to come out stronger on the other side of the COVID-19 outbreak.

It’s still fairly early in the process to say how many new customers Mueller will obtain as a result of the TDMI report. But Mueller is pleased so far with the variety of industries we’ve discovered and the promising leads that have been generated. As far as our current customers are concerned, they’re likely to benefit as well once we start generating new ideas for these other industries.

“Fortunately, Mueller was pretty innovative and willing to innovate,” said A. Michael Wilson with RTI International. “It was (about finding) the hidden advantage of what they do.”

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Why Mueller Applied for a Grant to Get New Business

Now you know more about the process of applying for a grant for a TDMI report and how Mueller is using this information to explore other markets.

We’re looking forward to meeting new clients and providing them with innovative custom cut solutions just as we do now for our existing customers.

If you’re interested in working with Mueller, let’s talk about your needs and our capabilities today!

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