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How a 70-year-old family business used Salesforce to step into the future

Using the CRM software helped Warrington-based MEECO's business expand.

MEECO's team at Pittcon. (Courtesy photo)

Salesforce is a sponsor of Philly Tech Week 2019 presented by Comcast and reviewed this article before publication. Click here to register for the seventh annual PhillyForce Salesforce Conference on May 6.

Back in 1985, when Lisa Bergson took over MEECO, the business her ailing father started seven decades ago producing industrial gas analyzers, she found herself leading a company that made great products, had stellar customers — and was verging on bankruptcy.

Her single biggest challenge before 2018 was that turnaround, nurturing the company back to prosperity.

Founded in 1948, MEECO specializes in the detection of trace moisture in manufactured gases and natural gas. The technology ensures the purity of breathing oxygen, as well as the quality of ultra-high-purity gases that go into the production of tiny microchips. Its products prevent the freezing and rust that can lead to corrosion and even explosions in natural gas pipelines.

Over time though, it became clear to Bergson that her company’s dated sales and records system was in need of some 21st century tech, and in 2017 MEECO turned to Salesforce and its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Bergson says the move was key for her company’s versatility and scope, and credits the Software-as-a-Service platform for streamlining operations and empowering MEECO’s team.

Bergson said that in just two years, Salesforce became foundational to MEECO’s day-to-day operations, and it played a key role in MEECO’s smooth sale of a former subsidiary company in 2018.

“We’ve forgotten what it was like before Salesforce,” Bergson joked. “It was so painful, we’ve put it behind us. Salesforce allowed us to continue to grow. We had 20% growth last year despite what could’ve been a catastrophic event for us, and we’re planning to grow even more this year.”

MEECO’s president Jerry Riddle highlighted the fact that the resources, tools, information and contacts MEECO’s new regional managers needs are quickly accessible with Salesforce, allowing them to easily track the different stages each sale is in.

“Last week, two of our regional sales managers were on multi-country trips, and with Salesforce they can look up a contact or account record and have every quote or email transacted with that contact all there,” Riddle said. “It makes everything so much more efficient and effective, and basically it allows us to provide more sophisticated interaction with our customers because all of that information is right at your fingertips.”

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In 2018, the company was selling its holdings in another company that had intermingled accounts and management with MEECO, including about 4,000 accounts. Bergson wanted to quickly and effectively segment all of the shared sales and service instances for each company, while also rapidly replacing the loss of MEECO’s production manager, service manager and regional sales managers for Asia, Europe and Latin America as part of the divestment.

“It could have just been incredibly arduous, if not impossible, to go through all of that disruption and loss of key people,” Bergson said, but Salesforce helped the company to complete the sale effectively with no outstanding issues.

What might have been a catastrophe — the kind that puts whole companies out of business — became a plus for the family-owned business.

“We were able to more fully focus on the MEECO operation and quickly establish new resources, based on our complete grasp of our installed base, prospects, service history and forecast — all thanks to Salesforce and our Salesforce integrator, BlackIron Group,” Bergson said.

In addition, having this technology in place eased MEECO’s process for on-boarding new regional sales and service managers, contributing to their ability to adapt, scale and grow as a company.

“Because we had Salesforce, we were able to hire new people who were more tailored to MEECO’s requirements and also arm them with all the information, accounts, history and anything they needed to be effective,” Bergson said.

Companies: Salesforce

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