How one client built a brand and then sold it for millions
It was over 22 years ago, that a small probiotics manufacturing business tucked away in the quiet Somerset town of Stoke-sub-Hamdon introduced their first product onto the market. Today their products are sold to over 80 countries world-wide.
This is the story of how one West Country business became a global brand.
But the tale goes back a little further than this to when the original founder – livestock farmer Toby Lewis – on the advice of his local vet, began giving natural yoghurt to his ailing piglets because of it’s probiotic content.
The young animals had been experiencing repeated gut-related difficulties and, after traditional treatments had failed to clear up the condition long-term and were considered risky to the food chain, Toby thought he may as well follow the unconventional advice.
It turned out to be a good move. Not only did the piglets make a full and sustained recovery, but it gave the young farmer the idea of taking this natural remedy and developing it into a specially-formulated product that could be easily administered to livestock for other farmers to purchase. It was the beginning of a new business venture.
Fast forward to the millenium and this fledgling business – now trading under the brand name Protexin – had already established itself within the farming community and was beginning to make a name for itself in the veterinary industry. Sales of their probiotic supplements were going well and the company had secured further outside investment to develop and grow.
It was at this point they decided that some marketing would be required to support that growth. An annual marketing budget of £10,000 was set aside to do this, and Think! were invited in to chat about how we could help.
We left that initial meeting with a stack of information and probiotic goodies to look over, absorb and base our research on. Two weeks later we were ready to return, armed with our evidence and our proposal … and a little nervous in the knowledge that we knew it was not going to be what they expected.
Our recommendation – put all marketing plans on hold, we need to build a brand and possible sub brands for the business.
We presented them with a clear rationale and benefits for doing this so that this would provide the foundation upon which the reputation of the company would be formed. It was a long shot for us, but if they didn’t do it, we knew we wouldn’t be able to help them.
The company spent over £40,000 in that first year, as we developed first their brand and then their marketing strategy and supporting collateral, helping them to become a leading supplier of animal supplements to the UK veterinary market.
It was an exciting time and significant growth followed with the company increasing it’s turnover by 900% in just 6 years – and not long after – expanding into new purpose-built factory premises.
And there (after 9 years) our story with them ended. They had outgrown our services and needed to employ a full in-house marketing team. Over the years the brand was well-preserved and skilfully-marketed, becoming a powerful asset for the business so that, in 2018, when they decided it was time to sell, they were successfully acquired by US firm ADM for £185m.