Already firmly established as the leader in safety information products, J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., is beginning a bold effort to become the major Internet resource for safety solutions. David Gill points and clicks for more.
Many companies are flooding the Internet, but rarely has a Web site fit a company’s overall strategy as well as at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., the Neenah, Wis.-based supplier of safety-related publications and services. Keller is presently in the midst of its beta test for KellerOnline™, the Internet site the company has launched as the single resource for information on safety issues. KellerOnline™ provides access to compliance information, to interactive tools for planning and writing safety programs, to news on safety regulations generated by federal and state governments, and to assistance from the company’s staff of regulatory consultants, who can answer questions on regulatory compliance and safety issues.
On the surface, KellerOnline™ might appear to be a radical departure from the normal course of Keller’s business. The company has heretofore concentrated on developing products on transportation, hazardous materials, work-place, construction and food safety using more traditional media – print, video and software.
On closer examination, however, KellerOnline™ fits the company’s mission and purpose like a glove. “Our vision and strategy is to be the single source for regulatory and compliance solutions,” says Robert Keller, J. J. Keller’s president. “KellerOnline™ complements our business resource strategy, which is to be the one company people go to for safety information.”
KellerOnline™ contains nearly all of the information published in the many guides and manuals printed by Keller. Also, along with the database of regulatory requirements, the site provides analysis on how states regulate various safety aspects, compared and contrasted with how the federal government handles these issues. Among the variety of tools a safety manager can access on the site are facility and marking management software, tools for preparing training materials, written safety plans and features for PowerPoint presentations that a company can customize to its own purposes. It shows at what levels of government chemicals and materials are regulated and how, and provides updates of regulatory-change notices from the Federal Register and other sources, along with the new regulations’ effective dates.
“KellerOnline™ does what Keller’s been doing for the past 40-plus years, except in an online environment,” says Rustin Keller, Internet product manager. “It’s imperative for us to continue developing the business, especially through the Internet. Our expectations are to grow this as a business unit to several million dollars in revenues over the next five years. It’ll be a landmark product launch if we’re able to achieve those goals.”
The current plan, according to Rustin Keller, is to continue beta testing through the rest of this year, and to launch the site fully on February 1, 2001. J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., will begin charging a subscription fee for the site at that time, amounting to less than $14 a week. “The feedback to date is extremely positive on the format, the scope and the depth of the service. We’re getting suggestions such as topics to add or additional state information,” says Rustin Keller.
Unlike similar publishing businesses that abandon their traditional media and formats and throw all their eggs into the Internet basket, Keller sees KellerOnline™ as simply an additional way of serving their customers. Rustin Keller states, “We have the consulting business, the paper-based methods and the face-to-face methods. With KellerOnline™, we now have a solution for our customers’ needs online, and this will complement our other methods rather than replace them. Our customers still want the book on their shelves, and there’s no substitute for face-to-face consulting. Online fits right in the middle of all of these strategies.”
Robert Keller echoes this sentiment, pointing out, “We’ll beat our goal of $120 million of revenue this year, and I expect we’ll beat our long-term goal of $150 million soon thereafter. We’ll have exceeded these goals through three drivers: first, direct marketing and telemarketing sales; second, innovative new products and services; and third, relationship selling. The key to our growth is in these three drivers.”
KellerOnline™ thus fits neatly into the overall package that is J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., rather than overturning that package and transforming the company into another kind of business. Robert Keller says, “We’re working mightily to produce top-end products and solutions. By designing and developing these solutions, we can better satisfy our customers’ needs in our major accounts. In all cases, we’re using top-line people and technology to raise our revenues and profits, and to improve our customer service. KellerOnline™ also allows us to add value at the branch level. We can now provide added value at each of our customers’ 100,000 locations, right where our customers need it.”
Adding value to its customer service has been the Keller mission since its founding in 1953 by Robert Keller’s father, John J. Keller. For its first 10 years, the company combined services such as transportation/regulatory consulting, warehousing and insurance underwriting to the motor carrier industry. The proliferation of safety regulations provided increased opportunities for Keller, which led in turn to the development of hundreds of products for numerous markets. As the products and the markets they served expanded, Keller broadened its communication channels as well; the company was one of the first in the Midwest to create a telemarketing unit.
Today, Keller supplies its integrated publishing, printing and services to an estimated 200,000 customers in the United States and Canada. It numbers 800 associates in 33 functional disciplines including conceptual, problem-solving, communication, organizational, team building, marketing and management. It boasts several hundred proprietary products, a management team of more than 80 line and staff personnel, and 500,000 square feet of plant and office facilities in Neenah.
As critical as it is to Keller’s future, KellerOnline™ is just one of several areas in which the company expects to grow in the next few years. Mike Monson, senior specialist of promotions and trade shows, says, “Work place-safety and food-safety markets continue to show great opportunities for growth. Keller has a strong brand presence in these markets and is well positioned to maximize growth in these as well as a number of other diversified markets.”
Whatever the opportunity, Keller has a strong track record of serving markets of all types, as KellerOnline™ demonstrates. Monson says, “We’re almost entirely market-driven. We have a strong reputation of delivering value-added regulatory and compliance solutions to the needs of our customers.”