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The Full SP…

Let the marketplace become your sales force, says Mr. Loadlink upon his return from Asian peregrination.

sp logoThere have been two stages to the SP revolution. First, industry started to refer to SP Radiolink pluses and SP Wireless Loadshackles etc.; now, many engineers are driving the brand towards synonymity with all requirements for force measurement, load monitoring and suspended weighing load cell technology, regardless of the specific product required.

“You’ll need an SP for that,” she said, looking at the job spec requirements to perform load tests on a 400t capacity deck crane aboard a vessel. This particular engineer, like many of her peers the world over, simply identified a need for a low headroom load cell and knew Straightpoint could provide the solution. In a completely unrelated email I received recently, the same assumption was made: “Can you help me source an SP package to measure this load before we order the crane?” it read.

Family values

It’s a heady status that the whole Straightpoint family has been working towards for many years, in earnest since we launched the new ‘SP’ logo, say, five years ago. Yet the marketplace is driving it; they’ve become our sales force.

We’re not getting ahead of ourselves and it certainly doesn’t represent the completion of any journeys—only another milestone—but it’s something we’re extremely proud of. Where Tannoy might be used to describe a public address system, or one might buy a Coke neglectful of the brand of fizzy drink available before Hoovering the carpet, SP will one day be used just as ubiquitously in the rigging industry.

Consider that there will always be more weighing requirements than there are Straightpoint personnel or distributors, and think how powerful ‘SP’ could become. As such, I thought it prudent to share in brief the four main reasons, in no particular order, why this evolution has taken place, in the hope readers might be able to apply similar strategy to their own businesses. Remember, our starting point can be likened to many other companies; we started off small in a market with a number of much larger competitors.

  1. Quality

Engineers don’t give compliments easily. They understand materials, structures and systems as they relate to their fields of expertise. They identify problems and set about finding solutions. Thus, only by providing a world-class product, backed by a dedicated distributor network, has SP become associated with the positive impact it can have on an industry, jobsite or application. Ironically, it takes an incredibly reliable and efficient product to achieve secondary status to a brand.

  1. Diversity

It’s taken constant diversification and enhancement of the SP range to differentiate us from alternative solution providers. As our new Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (COLT), specifically targeted at the plumb and tension market, proves, we can tailor solutions for end user marketplaces. Of course, the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) community—we launched the product at their event—isn’t shouting about SP from the rooftops yet, but it is getting its first taste of the comprehensive range of equipment that provides solutions for such varied applications.

The engineer referenced at the outset wouldn’t have said, “You’ll need an SP for that,” unless she trusted the brand to cater for all application nuances. She’d have said, “We need to find a load cell supplier that can work with these headroom restrictions.”

  1. Marketing

Visibility and consistency of marketing message has given the marketplace faith that we are sincere about our endeavours to make the lifting industry a safer place. Backed by a simple but effective and recognisable logo, we have associated the SP concept with a commitment to make a positive difference to the way industries across the world use cranes and other equipment. Through non-commercial blogs, press releases, advertisements, social media, trade shows and more, we’ve been authentic and ever-present.

  1. Internationalisation

SP means the same in any language. It’s easy and fast to say, meaning non-English speaking distributors and their customers have been particularly keen to adopt the abbreviation. The effectiveness of our product in meeting local requirements has also endeared us to different geographies. Regulations are different in the UK, Australia, China and the Middle East, but we have ensured our range can be used everywhere. SP would never have caught on if it only provided a solution in certain industries or regions.

Rising in the East

The evolution of Straightpoint to the point where SP has become a solution in its own right was particularly apparent during a recent trip that saw me visit the Middle East, Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia in quick succession.

First, I was honoured to be a guest of Gaylin International and Rigmarine (part of the Gaylin Group) in Dubai, where I was among a select group of manufacturers—Modulift, William Hackett and Samson Rope were also there—invited to network and give a presentation to representatives from 10 locations around the world. I’m grateful to Mike Duncan, managing director of Gaylin, for the opportunity, which I also used to spend some time with the company’s CEO, Desmond Teo and his team.

From the Middle East, I flew out to visit Borneo-based lifting and rigging equipment supplier Leyden Engineering Services, which is based in Labuan, a territory of Malaysia off the coast in East Malaysia. There, I conducted training and participated in meetings with the company’s founder, Anthony Ho; his son, Chiang Seng Ho; and other representatives, all of whom spoke highly of the “SP” range.

As an aside, it was interesting to visit a local museum to learn of the region’s history and, in particular, the importance of coal during British colonisation. I’ve blogged before about the area’s stunning seafood!

In between activity with Leyden I visited a local museum. This plaque reads, ‘Here, on the 10th September, 1945, the commander of the 9th Division, Australian Imperial Forces, received the surrender of the 37th Japanese Army in North Borneo’.

In between activity with Leyden I visited a local museum. This plaque reads, ‘Here, on the 10th September, 1945, the commander of the 9th Division, Australian Imperial Forces, received the surrender of the 37th Japanese Army in North Borneo’.

Next stop was Batam, Indonesia, home to PT Rigspek Perkasa, a distributor across a key region of Southeast Asia and Oceania, where Erald Bangapadang was a fantastic host. It was interesting to note synergies between his company and Leyden, who both see a lot of potential for the SP COLT and wireless compression load cells. Driving demand for the latter is local customers increasingly seeing the importance of getting information about loads before sourcing lifting equipment or instructing a lift. As Asia and the US catch up with Europe in terms of pre-lift preparation, the future for these load cells is exciting.


In other news, we completed a record first quarter and have recruited industry stalwart Mike Neal as project sales engineer. He will utilise over three decades of relevant experience to primarily focus on promoting the company’s range of non-standard products. As I said in a press release, we want to increase our conversion rate on non-standard products to somewhere close to that of our standard range. He was actually my sales manager many years ago and we have kept in touch since; it’s great to have him on board.

There was one more announcement to make but I might save it until next month as Dean Nelson, managing director of Melbourne, Australia’s Hoisting Equipment Specialist (Vic) Pty Ltd is about to arrive and he’s had a long journey. Watch this space!

Thank you for reading and use the hashtag #loadcell on social media.

Mr. Loadlink

Dizzy Heights…

Mr. Loadlink comes back down to earth after scaling the heights of the recent National Association of Tower Erectors annual conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

Was the suspense killing you?

I closed my last blog with reference to our latest ‘groundbreaking innovation’, offering only a clue that it will be used for ‘measuring tension on static lines’, and kept you on tenterhooks by adding, ‘watch this space’ before signing off and disappearing knowingly into the sunset.

The Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (COLT) boasts a state-of-the-art Bluetooth load monitoring app among a myriad of standout features.

The Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (COLT) boasts a state-of-the-art Bluetooth load monitoring app among a myriad of standout features.

I wasn’t really trying to create the same effect as the novelist of a good old-fashioned page-turner; I’m a humble blogger. I was merely honouring a commitment we made to stage the official launch of the Clamp On Line Tensionmeter (COLT) at the National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) annual conference, which straddled the end of February and the beginning of March in Fort Worth, Texas. As the show proved, there was no need for added theatrics.


The reaction from the tower erection, maintenance and service professionals in attendance was overwhelming. I’d go as far as to say it was the most emphatic response I have seen for a new product in nearly three decades of attending trade shows and exhibitions. I’m glad it was kept under wraps, as the engaged, positive, quality demographic that NATE attracted to the convention deserved the first look.

Of course, many pointed to the state-of-the-art Bluetooth load monitoring app, while the integral quick adjustment mechanism (meaning it can be used to measure wire rope diameters from 3/16 in. to 1 in. or 5mm to 25mm) was the standout feature for others. Both elements equally impressed one of the early visitors to the exhibit, from the tower erection sector. “So I won’t need additional sheaves or tooling and the app will contain details of infinite wire ropes,” he remarked. “Wow!” he added. It wasn’t the only time we heard that word.

If the constant flow of footfall had abated I would have sat down to catch my breath. Reality was, no sooner had one inquisitive tower maintenance team left the stand (or booth as they call an exhibit stateside) a service company arrived, followed by another tower erector. At times, people had to leave the back of the crowd and come back later. Our product range is generally well received but this was unprecedented.

Tower erection and maintenance professionals were among visitors to our exhibit at NATE’s recent conference and exhibition.

Tower erection and maintenance professionals were among visitors to our exhibit at NATE’s recent conference and exhibition.

Plumb market

This blog isn’t about basking in our glory. The more important takeaway is the importance of tailoring a product to a marketplace and launching it in their back yard. Not everyone in the below-the-hook or, more specifically, force measurement industry knows what ‘plumb and tension’ means. To the NATE community, that’s their world. It’s a way of life. It was the perfect audience for the COLT, hence our endeavours to keep it behind closed doors until the event.

Welcoming another NATE attendee to the Straightpoint exhibit.

Welcoming another NATE attendee to the Straightpoint exhibit.

As I said in the press release we circulated as NATE doors flew open, we based the COLT on feedback from end users. Combining industry intelligence with our own research and engineering expertise, we devised a product that fills a gap in the market and supersedes alternative solutions. Further, it raises the bar in tension measuring technology to the stratosphere.

The towers themselves are getting pretty high too. Many of the professionals we met frequently service structures that are hundreds of feet in the air and I heard references to 1,000-foot-high structures, as the communication network achieves coverage across the vast landscapes of North America. Imagine how important it is therefore that when there are, say, 12 guy ropes around a tower, the tension is equal. In this business, it’s no good being a few degrees off vertical.

That’s where the COLT comes in. The computer numerical control (CNC) machined aluminium construction with high precision roller bearing pivot; high leverage tensioning arm; auto-locking magnetic handle mechanism for security when installed; and IP67 / NEMA6 waterproofing rating, will all combine as the tensionmeter is applied to keep this fascinating sector working efficiently and safely.

(The COLT will typically be applied from ground level or using a stepladder to attach it two feet from a termination or connection).

Wayne’s world

Wayne Wille, technical sales manager, has walked the corridors of NATE for a number of years. He’s a trusted authority in tension measurement and served as a great product champion for us after he joined the company during the latter stages of the COLT’s development. It was tremendous to have him on the stand throughout the show.

Therein lies another important reminder: becoming a thought leader and commentator on a sector builds up incredible trust in a marketplace. It’s not as crude as this, and I paraphrase, but one delegate suggested, “If this product is as good as you say it is, Wayne, we want to buy it”. Another said, simply, “Wow! That looks awesome”, after exchanging pleasantries with their old friend and looking across to the COLT.

Wayne started working with the tower industry in 1994 and attended his first NATE event in 2006. I like the way he summed it up when I asked what he enjoys about working in the sector. “The tower industry is always looking for solutions that offer them efficiency, safety and reliability,” he replied. I could certainly relate, as a supplier of equipment that does just that. As Wayne added in networking conversations, Straightpoint offers a solution that is very quick and accurate. It was music to the ears of a captivated audience.

Wayne Wille, technical sales manager, talks a NATE visitor through the COLT.

Wayne Wille, technical sales manager, talks a NATE visitor through the COLT.

Even as the business leader, I was there to learn from Wayne and the contacts he has spent many years cultivating. It would have been a mistake to be bullish on my first visit to the show. As I listened to stories, I was charmed by references to the mechanical dynamometers with cable grips and come-a-longs that were widely used in the sector years ago. They spoke about juggling three pieces of equipment; with COLT they’ll use just one.

I’m singling Wayne out but it’s worth referencing the expertise Dave Mullard, our UK-based business development manager, has in this marketplace. The engineering and marketing teams deserve a doff of the cap too for producing a product that looks fantastic but is also designed for purpose. Many tower erectors identified its key components and standout features just by looking at the COLT’s dimensions, which was rewarding.

Despite this positivity—“The COLT will sell very well in this market,” Wayne beamed within the first hour of the NATE show—we haven’t put all our eggs in one basket. Manufacturers of any product will be wise to challenge its potential for diversity even when the fanfare from the primary marketplace is prolonged. We’re already looking at applications including cable median barriers, zip lines, metro transit, ski lifts, fall arrest systems, and more. The first units will be put to use on site as early as 1st May this year!

Wayne Wille and I used our trip to NATE’s conference to visit Aldinger, an accredited calibration, certification and repair center for test and measurement instrumentation.

Wayne Wille and I used our trip to NATE’s conference to visit Aldinger, an accredited calibration, certification and repair center for test and measurement instrumentation.

Power of positivity

It was truly an honour to spend a few days among tower erection professionals, most notably because of their positive outlook. Positivity is damn powerful; don’t underestimate it. I spend a lot of time at lifting equipment, oil and gas, maritime, breakbulk and other trade shows where, with all due respect to these industries, there is often an air of negativity about the state of the market and prospects for each other’s businesses. Not so at NATE. These guys are on the up, in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, Jeff Miller, the new general manager of Straightpoint Inc., has settled into the company and has started to focus on our six key performance indicators for 2017. The old adage is true, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. (There’s a nice synergy there with our equipment!) Jeff’s introduction to the company has allowed John Molidor, director of sales for the western hemisphere, to concentrate on big projects, research niche markets and attend trade shows. He was at ConExpo-Con/Agg in Las Vegas this week where he caught up with many contacts to discuss force measurement, load monitoring and suspended weighing load cell solutions for the construction sector.

There have been other highlights over the last month or so but, as always, I can’t cover them all in detail. Joining Scott Abernethy on a traditional English pub-crawl during his recent visit from Straightpoint Inc. in California and an enlightening trip to Gaylin in South Korea were among the most memorable moments.

Thank you for reading! Use the hashtag #loadcell on social media.

Mr. Loadlink