Attending a September Trade Show in Chicago?

September 3, 2014


Are you heading to Chicago this month to attend the IMTS/IANA, ASPE or NECA trade shows? If so, check out our exclusive Insider’s Guide to Chicago! Use this guide to help you get around town during your free time while attending the various trade shows being held in Chicago in September.

- Want to know where the locals like to eat and drink? We have the insider information from our friends in Chicago.

- Need tips on nightlife and sightseeing? We made a list of shouldn’t-miss recommendations.

- Have you ever driven in Chicago? We have you covered with taxi and limo services.

See you at McCormick Place…or at one of the great places in the guide!

Is Brand Advocacy Part of Your Marketing Strategy to Reach Tradesmen?

August 26, 2014

Let’s face it, in an ideal world we’d all want our customers to love us! We all know that’s not going to happen, but I’ll bet you might have more advocates for your brand than you think.

Why are brand advocates important? Studies show that people rely on peer recommendations and reviews before purchasing goods. Contractors are no different, especially if you’re introducing a new product or application they haven’t used or seen before. They certainly don’t want to be the first to try something.

Brand advocates are more than loyal customers. They are your ambassadors in the trades. I’ve seen contractors with tattoos of company logos. That to me is the ultimate.

Some brand advocates will surface on their own by commenting on your blog or website several times or talking you up on an online forum.  Others might offer positive comments on a survey or warranty card. Don’t forget to ask your sales staff in the field who are calling on contractors, as well as your customer service department. They certainly should be able to identify a few. Hopefully a few will be high-profile folks within some associations that you are a part of.

One of our clients in the plumbing market was able to identify and nurture several advocates over the years. Once they brought the top 10 contributors into the main office and treated them like royalty for 2 days and then sent them home. They got a plant tour, a look at what was coming down the line as new products and met with customer service and technical people that they interface with on a regular basis on the phone or with emails. You wouldn’t believe the results of that effort. They became ambassadors on steroids!

Once you’ve found them, then what? You should set up a brand advocacy program that will give them ways to help you grow the brand. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask them to write testimonials or reviews on new products. Then ask them to share them.
  • See if they would be willing to do a case history for you.
  • If timing permits and you can meet them at an association meeting or trade show, see if they would let you  interview them both for a podcast and testimonial video.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Have them test and evaluate new products before they are brought to market.
  • Have them identify potential new products.

This needs to be an ongoing effort so you’re always adding new advocates to keep the message current and fresh.

Don’t miss a golden opportunity for your customers to help sell your brand.

The 3 Most Important Things I Learned as an Intern at Sonnhalter

August 21, 2014

Emily Bessell just wrapped up a summer internship here at Sonnhalter and before she left, she shared some of the things she learned during her time on our team. Here’s what she had to say…

With summer winding down and my senior year at Denison University just around the corner, I’m beginning to reflect on my internship experience here at Sonnhalter.

The first thing that came to mind was,

“Where did the time go? It seems like I just started yesterday!”

But I will save the familiar ‘time is fleeting’ conversation for another day.

The second and third things that popped into my head were more closely related to what I aim to communicate in this post. That is, the three most important things I learned as an intern.

1. Research skills are important.

One of my predominant projects this summer involved heavy research so effective skills were essential. However, I learned that research skills are important for other things too, like preparing for meetings with clients. During my time as an intern, I was included in client meetings and conference calls. While observing these meetings, I wanted to be well informed and if needed, participate in the conversation with confidence. To do this, I engaged in thorough research about the client and company prior to the meeting. With this kind of preparation, I was well informed and ready to learn new things.

2. Always carry a pen and paper.

This might sound obvious, but I learned never to leave my office without my black Sakura Gelly Roll pen and Moleskine notepad (equipment is important too!). These tools came in handy, as I am quite the note taker. Each day is full of new information and writing it down helped me commit it to memory. It is also important to take note of key projects so you can refer back when updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As an intern, asking questions is important in learning how to do things the right way the first time. I found that co-workers with experience are excellent resources and are incredibly helpful in answering questions and providing feedback.

I’ve had a productive couple of months at Sonnhalter, in the northern part of Ohio, and while I still have a lot to learn and improve upon, I have gained important lessons and invaluable skills. During my time as an intern, I was able to see how and why the Sonnhalter team is excellent at what they do. It was a pleasure working with them and I am truly thankful for the experience.

An Interview with Habitat for Humanity Executive Director, John Habat

August 14, 2014

JohnHabat2Right now we’re in the middle of our annual Tool Drive supporting the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity. Since our efforts started in 2010, we’ve found amazing support from our clients, partners, friends and community members.

We talked with John Habat, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity to find out more about him, Habitat for Humanity and their efforts. Here’s the conversation:

Q. What is your position at Habitat for Humanity?

A. I’m the executive director.

Q. How long have you been there?

A. 3 years

Q. What are your responsibilities at Habitat for Humanity?

A. Everything imaginable and some things I never imagined!

Q. What’s your most memorable moment working for Habitat for Humanity?

A. There are many. But I think if you consider the dedications of our finished houses – these are really special. Happy kids running through their new home, selecting bedrooms, etc. Also, it’s the energy in the air – such a spirit of gratitude permeates and there are tears of joys amongst the family, the volunteers and staff. These are truly special moments.

Q. What does Habitat for Humanity need most from the community and businesses that wish to help?

A. Volunteers make Habitat happen, and money helps too. We always need volunteers, particularly in the ReStore.



Q. Tell us something that people might not know about Habitat for Humanity.

A. It is the fastest growing volunteer movement ever! In under 40 years, 100 million people across the planet have come together to make affordable housing a reality for more than 3 million families.

Q. How do tool drives like the Sonnhalter 5th Annual Tool Drive benefit Habitat for Humanity? 

A. Our ReStore is a go-to used and new retail store for construction items, and tools top the list of desired products. New ReStore revenues are dedicated to Habitat’s affordable housing program; last year, the ReStore generated enough funding to fully rehab 8 houses.

Q. What’s your favorite part of your position with Habitat for Humanity? 

A. The diversity of issues is incredible. I have a lawyer, lobbyist, CAO, CFO and marketing and journalism background (I am not as old as that collectively may seem!), and all of these skills are used in running Habitat.

Q. The Sonnhalter tagline is “Not Afraid to Get Our Hands Dirty.” What is your favorite way to get your hands dirty at Habitat for Humanity?

A. I love seeing the donations that come in the ReStore trucks as they are being unloaded on the dock… and I can’t resist getting involved. I also thoroughly enjoy working the sales floor in the ReStore.

Q. What’s your favorite way to get your hands dirty outside of work?

A. Gardening

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A. The annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive is a highlight of our ReStore donation year. It is amazing how many tools you folks collect.

If you’re interested in participating in the Sonnhalter Tool Drive, visit or contact us to find out more. Click here to read last year’s interview with Frank from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Do’s and Don’ts of Content Marketing

August 6, 2014

So everyone knows what content marketing is. But do we know how to get the best results out of it? I know I’ve been doing this for over three years now and have hardly touched the potential of what is available. I’ve been to webinars, seminars and summits on the subject and continue to learn new ways to capitalize on content marketing.

I recently read Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing. As usual, Joe does a great job explaining how to use and integrate into overall marketing plan.


This is a good book for the beginner or for those already engaged to reinforce the right way of doing things. It’s easy to read, has lots of examples, from defining your strategy to developing and managing content to marketing your stories, and I’m sure you’ll get tons of useful tips on how to get more out of your content marketing.

5th Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive to Benefit Habitat for Humanity

July 31, 2014

- Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman

Habitat for Humanity does great work in local communities to help improve both individual’s lives as well as the community in general. This is our 5th year of the tool drive to help out this worthy cause. Last year we raised more than $31,000 worth of tools and building materials and have collected more than $106,000 in donations since our tool drive efforts began in 2010.

23 Group


Since Sonnhalter’s major focus is on manufacturers who make things for contractors, 5 years ago we decided to help support our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and hosted a tool drive in the month of August to try to raise money, and more importantly, to gather tools (both new and used) to help in their building efforts, as well as to support them through their ReStore.
This August… tomorrow, we’re kicking off our Fifth Annual Sonnhalter Tool Drive! If you’d like to join us in our efforts, visit to find out more.

You can also contact me at (x126) or Rachel Kerstetter – (x130) at 440.234.1812.

Or, if you’re interested in finding a local chapter so you too can help out in your area, click here.
Thanks in advance for your support!

From MAGNET: Innovate or Die

July 10, 2014

Each month we’ll be featuring a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at

Innovate or Die: How Thermotion Moved Forward

Thermotion, LLC found themselves at a stalled point of growth and needed some major innovation for the development of their Thermo-Magnetic Actuators. In order to improve their product and reach newer and larger marketplaces, Thermotion and MAGNET worked very closely together and combined their respective expertise to create a more efficient and better performing actuator. This video will show you how Thermotion and MAGNET improved this business-critical product to reach new clients and to better help current clients such as the U.S. military.

Click here to read the original post.


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