“Will New Name Mean New Sales?”

To expand a market, Clifton Boyd renamed his company.

What’s in a name? An opportunity to increase revenue — at least, that’s what Clifton Boyd hopes.

President of B&L Supply Inc., Boyd renamed his company this spring. Formerly known as B&L Electric Supply Inc., the $3 million company is a wholesale supplier of electrical, paper and cleaning products.

When Boyd and his partner incorporated in 1997, they combined the initials of their last names to personalize the company’s name. They also included the adjective "electric" because they expected the majority of their customers to be electrical contractors.

Over time, the percentage of business generated from electrical supplies began to increase, hitting a high of 90%. But Boyd wanted to reverse that trend because paper and cleaning products are a more stable, year-round business.

"It’s hit or miss in the construction business," Boyd says, explaining that he bids on contracts to win electrical jobs.

The decline in paper and cleaning products was partly due to a lack of marketing, Boyd admits:

"We weren’t really advertising the paper side. When you sell to electrical contractors, you’re talking about light fixtures, wall outlets and motion sensors — not paper or cleaning supplies. And our company’s name didn’t suggest that we carry any other products to sell."

To expand non-electrical business, Boyd broadened his customer base, winning business with the state of Minnesota and General Mills. These new deals expanded paper and cleaning products to 35% of company sales. However, Boyd wanted to push for even more and believed a name change would be the ticket. So in April B&L Electric Supply Inc. became B&L Supply Inc.

"We didn’t want to change the name too much and lose recognition with existing clients," he says. "We hope this will give us the best of both worlds — attract new customers and win additional business from current customers. In a downturn, it’s important to see how much more business you can get from your current customer base."

Along with the name change, Boyd is launching a new Web site to increase visibility. He expects these tactics to increase paper and cleaning revenue an additional 10%-15% in the next year.