Small but Mighty in Business 

By Emily Snow

CaseTech, Inc.Mauri-Congleton, a distributor of reusable shipping cases, did the impossible during a recession: It increased its revenue by 311 percent in the past three years. This earned CaseTech the #11 spot among Arizona companies on Inc. Magazine’s 2010 Inc. 500 awards for fastest-growing private companies — 958th nationally. The woman-owned company of six people in a small office in Tempe did $13.2 million in sales in 2009.

Company president Mauri Congleton purchased the now-25-year-old company in 2002 and considers personally connecting with buyers through customer service and follow-through to be crucial to her success. Servicing each client from the beginning to the end of the process is just the start; even after the product is delivered, CaseTech encourages its customers to call if there are any problems. Service, in fact, may trump sales. “We try to answer every call personally and assure our customers we will help in every way possible — even if that means sending them to our competition if we can’t meet their needs,” says Congleton.

Congleton also credits part of her success to her policy of selling only those products she would buy for her own needs. “People can buy anything online these days, but you don’t really know what you’ll get,” she notes.

Education is the other cornerstone of Congleton’s approach to business. The company’s target market includes defense contractors, the United States military, audio/visual companies, medical labs and aerospace, but a customer may be “anyone with something valuable or sensitive that has to be shipped, once or repeatedly,” Congleton explains. Many of CaseTech’s smaller customers have no experience in buying this product and don’t understand the technical nature of the company’s service. “Often, they feel like we’re speaking a foreign language,” says Congleton, “so we need to educate them on the technical issues we consider in providing them with the best case fit and foam type for their specific application.”

Describing CaseTech as “local to our region” — which is comprised of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada — Congleton says, “To do custom orders, you need to be near your customers and their sensitive, valuable equipment. You can’t do everything via email; sometimes you have to be face to face.” This includes customizing a product to give the client organization as well as safety for shipping. “Our cases allow our customers to see if any of their materials or tools are missing at a quick glance. Every product has a place in each case, and you won’t have to dig around to see if you are missing something.”

Being a small business, Congleton says, allows her to make decisions quickly, without needing to convene a committee. Acknowledging there are government contracts set aside for minority or woman-owned businesses, she says she doesn’t rely on getting business by being woman-owned but rather by being the best in her industry. Her approach is to “take it all personally. If you don’t, you don’t have a personal commitment to your customers, your team members or your partners.” She takes the partnership perspective in her approach to both customers and manufacturers, with the philosophy, “We’re in this together.”

Snapshot Perspective: CaseTech, Inc.

  • Founded 1985
  • Named one of Inc. Magazine’s 2010 Inc. 500 fastest-growing private companies in the nation — 11th in Arizona, 958th nationally
  • 311% growth in the last three years
  • $13.2 million in sales in 2009
  • 6 employees
  • 77th in its industry, per Inc. Magazine
  • Target industries: defense contractors, aerospace, technology, original equipment manufacturers, medical, audio/visual, technology and the United States military

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