DUBUQUE, IA (October 1, 2019) – Dubuque-based safety product company, Smart Retract, hosted an exclusive event focused on small business access to digital tools with staff from Senator Joni Ernst’s and Senator Chuck Grassley’s offices. Marc Pichik, the owner and CEO and founder of Smart Retract, provided the Senators’ staff with a tour of Smart Retract headquarters and explained how the use of digital tools and platforms has helped his business succeed.
“We’re very pleased to take part in this event and discuss how the use of digital tools has enabled our company to experience steady growth,” Pichik said. “I feel we are fortunate to share in this new generation of manufacturing through retail focus and reach markets that would be nearly impossible without these tools and technologies.”
When he couldn’t find a product more versatile and durable than traditional safety gates to contain his new pet, Pichik designed one himself and started Smart Retract in 2002. Seventeen years later, he’s the owner of a growing business with sales around the world and shops in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and soon in Spain to handle local needs.
Pichik started small by selling through retail stores in Iowa but quickly realized he had to get the brand online to expand the customer base. A website built to optimize search results for safety gates and a stead investment in Google AdWords worked wonders for customer acquisition.
Annual growth has been steady as a result, allowing Smart Retract to enlarge its staff to 12 people, with more hiring in the works. “If it weren’t for online tools and our ability to market to customers searching for our specific products, we’d have a completely different business model,” Pichik said. “It just wouldn’t work.”
According to a recent study published by Deloitte, 90 percent of all small businesses believe that digital tools have fostered innovation in their business, particularly in entering new markets and communicating with customers. The study also found that 85 percent of digitally-empowered small businesses have enhanced their business performance and are five times more likely to reach new international customers.
“We have a unique business model where we develop, support, manufacture, distribute, and retail all of our products in-house– and, it’s almost exclusively powered by our online and digital presence. The digital tools that we use have been the basis for our growth, and of course directly contributes to our hiring and staffing efforts, which has been increasing.”