Smith Electric Motorworks ©  Legal

A note from the Writer . . .

Gary Werner

Founder, GWM Corporation

The "Sales Gimmick" at our company is a superior product. Every company trying to fit their product into a market needs an identity--a distinguishing mark to set itself apart from the blur of similarity among its competitors.

We decided to go exclusively with phase converters in 1986. This field was ripe for a performance-oriented manufacturer not afraid of research & development. At that time our competition consisted of 5 or 6 major players, who were all buying from the same suppliers and essentially assembling the same equipment. Each had bragging rights to devices they patented 30 or 40 years ago. Motor technology has made major advances in the last 20 years, but the phase conversion industry remained stagnant. On top of this all the products were of thrift-store quality, and the rotarys were as noisy as can be imagined. As long as no one upset the status quo, however, change or improvement was not necessary. One company, for example, claimed quality as their driving force, but it was obvious that they had no idea what it was or how to sell it.

We set out to build a quality, quiet product and to educate users that there is no fifty-dollar way to operate sophisticated 3-phase equipment on single phase. We do not want our customers to have just an "acceptable" power supply, we want them to have superior power, a converter that is an out performer under all operating conditions. This mind-set probably comes from my background in auto racing. In the early '70's I built fuel Dragsters for "Big Daddy" Don Garlits1. Later, when I wanted a fast motorcycle, mine had a V-8 Chevy engine that burned alcohol fuel and had a "Star Wars" look2.

Gary aboard the Widowmaker, ca. 1984.

At any rate, I learned that if you want to sell nationally, you should have a national marketing program. I didn't. I asked a customer with that kind of experience, and he said, "20% of a given market wants a lot of information about the product. Forget them and go after the 80% to whom you can sell in 15 seconds." I thanked him and went after the 20% group.

Why? In our industry, a 20% share of the market is about $1 million a year. These people are quality minded and make the best customers. Informed customers pay attention to instructions. They know what to expect of the equipment, and they take care of it. If they do have a problem, they describe exactly what happened. And they are always so honest I will bend backward to solve whatever problem comes up. We have so little trouble, it doesn't matter even if one gets hit by lightening--we will find a way to repair it.

. . . Gary A. Werner

1 Several cars built by Don Garlits and Gary Werner may be viewed at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida.

2 I bought E. J. (the "Michigan Madman") Potter's old tire-smoking Icon--the Widowmaker--in 1979 and sold it in 1985 after extensive rework. I bought it back in 1997 and restored it to its original condition as E.J. built it. It currently resides at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida.