ATAS International, Inc., a leading manufacturer of metal roofing, wall, ceiling panels and accessories, produces profile systems for commercial and residential buildings.
Founded in 1963, the Allentown, Pa., company specializes in energy-efficient building envelope technology, such as ENERGY STAR-qualified cool roofing products and InSpire, a transpired solar collector that utilizes precision perforated metal panels to preheat ventilation air via solar energy.
The ATAS line of aluminum, steel, zinc and copper profiles is deployed by architects, builders and building owners on projects of all sizes. The company has four facilities in the U.S. – two, including the headquarters, in Allentown; one in Maryville, Tenn.; and one in Mesa, Ariz. All ATAS locations hold ISO 9001:2008 certifications.
“We’ve been a family-owned business for 49 years, and the third generation is getting involved,” ATAS President Dick Bus said. “We’re the classic American success story.”
In 1963, Dutch immigrant Jacobus P. Bus – the father of current President Dick Bus and Vice President Jim Bus – started ATAS in his Rochester, N.Y., basement as a siding and trim installer. The company moved to a 12,000-square-foot facility in 1972, and it then relocated to a 104,000-square-foot building in Allentown 13 years later. A further 30,000-square-foot office building was added in 1999, in addition to the Tennessee and Arizona facilities.
ATAS had long been a leader in the field of metal roofing and siding, but it couldn’t do everything on its own. The company needed to make its sales planning and lead qualification process more efficient to tap into new markets.
ATAS’ lead follow-up process was largely informal. Leads were delivered to salespeople after minimal – if any – triaging. The result was an overwhelmed sales force that found it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Meanwhile, ATAS recognized its potential to reach into the growing and highly lucrative market for sustainable products, but it needed guidance along the way.
The Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC), a nonprofit organization partially funded by the NIST-MEP program and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, had the access, expertise and scope to help ATAS with both initiatives.
MRC first helped ATAS develop a plan to increase the effectiveness of its lead process.
At the same time, a lead triage process was implemented. Program secretaries followed up with each potential customer, tightening the efforts of the sales force.
“MRC helped us develop a program to handle lead qualification internally,” Dick said. “We’ve definitely tightened up on the leads that are going to our salespeople.”
Later, MRC helped ATAS begin a certification program for its sustainable products, improving their marketability.
ATAS’ sales planning and lead qualification process has never been smoother. Because salespeople are receiving a highly concentrated group of leads, nearly 10 percent of initial contacts are resulting in face-to-face meetings – an extremely high percentage.
Meanwhile, ATAS has started to receive high-end sustainability certifications for products like its cool roofing, transpired solar collector, and building integrated photovoltaic. The awards will be part of a major marketing effort in the near future.
MRC, Dick said, was essential to the successes.
“They’re big-picture people,” he said. “We always know they can help us. When we’ve identified problems, they’ve identified opportunities. They’ve helped us both train people and identify new markets for ourselves. They’re focused on the big picture, but they also get into the details.”