Jacksonville Shipyards Key Houston Sandblasting Equipment Manufacturer
In the mid 1970’s, dust from outdoor sandblasting was becoming recognized as an environmental problem nationwide. Fabricated steel always requires surface preparation before final use, but no company had yet come up with a feasible and affordable solution for in-the-field, jobsite sandblasting. Key Houston was the first company to create an affordable, Portable Shot Blast facility (PBF) that could be transported to a jobsite on a flatbed truck, installed in a single 8-hour shift, allowing the contractor to process sheet steel onsite with complete recovery of the spent shotblast material.
Companies that purchased the product found an added advantage: they could reuse much of the shotblast up to 200 times, instead on only once, as was the case with open blasting. Marketing this totally new concept to an entrenched marketplace of international contractors was Emerson Brantley’s first task as Marketing and Advertising Director with Fruehauf’s Shipyards Subsidiary.
During 1977 Emerson Brantley wrote, directed and produced a ten minute sales film on this breakthrough prototype Portable Blasting Facility, or PBF, the first of its kind. For twelve years this film was used by representatives around the world as their primary desktop presentation. It established the Key-PBF as the industry leader, and as an innovative and forward-thinking company.
Competing against flashy, four color marketing pieces common in the industry, Emerson designed the “Concept: PBF” brochure based on blueprints, indicative of the prototypical nature of the PBF. At 8 pages, it contained other mechanical drawings and information, yet was able to be printed simply on a one-color press and saddle stitched for economy. This brochure, along with the desktop film presentation, was the only sales material the company needed to introduce the PBF and dominate their market. It was immediately accepted by engineers and contractors, largely because of its “engineering” appearance, which by itself bespoke of the developmental breakthrough the PBF represented.
The springboard chosen to introduce the concept was the 1977 American Welding Society Show in Philadelphia. This international show was considered the main event in the industry. Only 19 at the time, he created a high-profile 20 x 20 booth on a shoestring budget, establishing dozens of initial clients and leads for the company’s sales team. Later that year he once again represented the Key Houston Division at the huge Offshore Technology Conference, the largest technology conference in the world during the 1970s and 1980s.
This half-page color ad was used internationally for Key Houston, again tapping into the blueprint idea, but with corporate logo colors in some versions. Because it asked for a response, some senior members of the 100 year old Fruehauf felt it was too forward and “salesy.” The ad ran, successfully creating ongoing leads for over two years. It was Emerson’s first “direct response” marketing piece, and is recognized as one of the earliest direct response pieces in the industry.
A postcard based on this ad was sent to 85,000 industrial and construction prospects, bringing in over 1.7% response, still considered above average for a business-to-business card-deck mailer.