Open the Door to Tomorrow: Thoughts on the Future of B2B Manufacturing

Episode 261

November 14, 2023

Taylor Smith of PSNERGY is on the show this week having a chat with us about getting the next steps that manufacturing can take. We cover the harmonious nature of how sales and marketing can work together in the future. And also tackle some methods to get the youth of today and beyond invested in manufacturing in general. Taylor is a wonderful voice in the space and is bringing some fresh perspectives to us on The Kula Ring this week. Plus, we talk about bowling! Jeff and Carman tell us just how much they know about bowling, which isn’t a lot.

Open the Door to Tomorrow: Thoughts on the Future of B2B Manufacturing Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to the Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White, and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir? 

Carman: I’m doing well, you?

Jeff White: Great. It’s a rainy Monday morning, but, you know, it’s a good time to record a podcast.

Carman Pirie: That is true. That is true, we should uh. Although with the gear, you shouldn’t hear any kind of pitter patter of the rain or anything. 

Jeff White: No, no. 

Carman Pirie: Although it would be nice and mild, it would be soothing. 

Jeff White: Yeah. And it’s not mild. It’s almost freezing outside. But that’s very Canadian of us to talk about the weather. 

Carman Pirie: Always. Let’s talk about today’s guest instead. 

Jeff White: Yeah, why don’t we do that? So joining us today is Taylor Smith. Taylor is the Technical Sales and Marketing person at PSNERGY. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Taylor. 

Taylor Smith: Hi, guys. Thank you for having me. 

Jeff White: So glad you could join us.

Carman Pirie: And the technical sales and marketing person. She’s the one that does those two things. Hey, man, it’s a real set up for you, Taylor, to kind of. I got a visual right away of you being in charge of pretty much the entire ship. But, look, let’s, let’s just understand what PSNERGY is for listeners and tell us more about you.

Taylor Smith: Yeah. PSNERGY is a technical solution company for big steel, aluminum and zinc companies. So we primarily focus on combustion and that is the energy used to produce heat that heats up steel products or aluminum products used in melting heat, treating things like that. And we monitor the combustion at the burner level. We give you updates through an app basically helping you reduce emissions and increase your bottom line, which would be your throughput through the furnace.

Jeff White:  Very cool. 

Carman Pirie: That’s really cool. 

Jeff White: And tell us a bit more about your role there and kind of how you got how you got into the industry. 

Taylor Smith: Yeah. So my role in technical sales and marketing, it’s pretty cool. I started in the industry about four years ago. I was a Division one athlete, a bowler, which that’s kind of cool. You don’t find those very often. 

Carman Pirie: You are the first division one bowler on The Kula Ring podcasts for sure. 

Taylor Smith: I love that. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah

Taylor Smith: A lot of people don’t even know that that’s a thing. So I love telling people that. That’s always is my one fun fact about myself. 

Jeff White: Well, before we go any further, how do you feel about the two handed bowling that’s going on right now?

Taylor Smith: Okay, I am biased because I’m a female. So, you know, we talk a lot about revolutions in bowling, and that’s basically like the revs on the ball, which help you get a hook into the pocket and get a strike. You get so many revs when you’re two handed bowler but you know, it’s all about accuracy and muscle memory. So if they can do it that way, that’s awesome. I could, I cannot do it. I’ve tried. I could never. 

Carman Pirie: But you don’t think they should be banned from the sport because they’re just bastardized with this weird two hands thing. And meanwhile, you’ve got the one handed craft. 

Taylor Smith: No, I don’t think they should be banned. It’s just very different. You know, maybe it should be its own sector of bowling. But there’s definitely an upper hand when you’re a two handed bowler. But really, it does all come down to that muscle memory.

Jeff White: no pun intended. 

Carman Pirie: I know with the upper hand. Come on. 

Jeff White: That’s that’s good. Interesting to hear. It’s an interesting moment in sports for that. I had, I was watching some videos about it a couple weeks ago. 

Carman Pirie: It’s one of those. When was the last time you saw any controversy or see a discussion about bowling at all other than like the guy that, um, had the really over-the-top celebration? 

Jeff White: Oh, yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Like, you don’t know who I am or I don’t know who you think you are. I am or whatever is some sort of weird. Right? But I was that. And then the two handed bowling. That’s it. 

Taylor Smith: But what people don’t realize is that we cheered for college bowling, just like college football. You know, we would. We would turn around after a strike screaming at the top of our lungs. It was, it was crazy. And you would never think that. 

Jeff White: Does change the perspective or the image. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. All right. Well, beyond bowling. Yeah. Um, how did you end up at PSNERGY? 

Taylor Smith: Yeah. When I was in Brooklyn, New York, on my division one bowling scholarship, I was studying communications, and I couldn’t find an internship in the city. It was the end of 2019. I was in my junior year, and I couldn’t find any sort of internship that interested me. So my dad called me up and he told me, he worked at Ellwood City Forge at the time, and he told me that his company was looking for summer help. And I took that as, oh, a marketing internship. And I was so excited. So I went home for the summer and my first day on the job, you know, you’re sitting through training and they’re talking about hard hats and safety glasses and you know, where you need to get steel toed boots. And I was so confused, like, am I not going to be sitting in the office? And I showed up the next day and I spent my entire summer painting the yellow safety lines on the floor of the shop. So that was cool. And I remember I was so angry with my dad. It’s like, Why am I doing this? This has nothing to do. I have no interest in this. And I hated it. I hated going to work every day until I made my way to the end of the plant. They call it the D-Mag area, and that’s kind of where they staged all of the steel. So they would have the steel staging there. They’d loaded into the furnace, take it out, glowing red hot and then forge it. And I remember when I got down to that section and I saw the furnace doors open and a huge manipulator goes over and picks up this giant piece of steel, and they take it over and start pressing it. And I was in awe. My jaw was on the floor just standing there looking at. I thought it was so cool, I had never seen anything like it. And, you know, from that moment on, I decided I want to be in this industry. And I truly had no idea how I was going to do that with my marketing degree or my communications degree. I didn’t know that there were different areas in manufacturing. I didn’t know that manufacturing needed marketers or people in sales and things like that because, you know, I was never exposed to it, but I ended up taking an internship up in Erie through my senior year. I did that remote while I lived in Brooklyn, and then I moved here for a full time position as a marketing coordinator at a furnace manufacturer. And then, you know, throughout my journey there, I had really realized that I want to be in sales and I saw a really good opportunity at PSNERGY, and I had to jump on it. 

Carman Pirie: That’s interesting to me. So you were a marketing coordinator role, but it’s actually sales is more of your interest and inclination than the marketing side.

Taylor Smith: It is. And that’s really because, you know, in the industry you see a lot of siloed sales and marketing teams and I just don’t think that that’s the way that it should be. My role now in technical sales and marketing is kind of, I like to call it the bridge between sales and marketing. So I really take those customers from step one, which is prospecting through the buyer’s journey, you know, through the purchase order, onboarding, educating, things like that.

And that has helped me grow. So much in both sales but also on the marketing side. 

Carman Pirie: How has that exposure to the sales side of the equation changed how you think about marketing? 

Taylor Smith: So I think a lot of people think, you know, you have marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads. So something that’s really cool in our operation is we don’t necessarily have marketing qualified leads, we have sales qualified leads, and those are the leads that we market to. So it sounds kind of weird. Like I said, I take the customers from prospecting through the buyer’s journey and that really allows me to see, okay, this is who we should be focusing on. These are our target market customers. And as you see those customers go through the buyer’s journey and you see kind of the obstacles and roadblocks that they have, it helps you address those earlier in the even in the marketing aspect of it, rather than getting a couple months into the sales process, you can kind of address all of those concerns earlier.

And then it’s not it’s not as big of a deal as you go through that sales process. So it’s really helped me in the educational aspect. I’m all about educating the customer and being completely transparent with them. 

Jeff White: I heard an interesting phrase not that long ago from one of the manufacturers that we work with that they were also thinking about leads from the perspective of data, qualified leads and DQL’s are they good enough to be in our CRM know, should we be kind of working them that way and bringing them into our world from a data perspective like, well before anybody gets the MQL status? You know, pretty interesting. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, it is interesting. And I think really Taylor’s kind of knocking on the door here with the fact that a focus on sales qualified is really a tenet of ABM to my, in my view where you say like everybody that’s on that target account list, you know is a you know, is a qualified buyer. They may not be in market, they may not like you, they may not know of you, all of those things. But I don’t know. I kind of, I like this whole notion of just, okay, we’re starting at SQL and it’s our job to sell them. Let’s go. And, you know? 

Taylor Smith: Yeah, so something that, you know, really makes an SQL for us is do they have an industrial furnace, a gas fired industrial furnace Because that’s what our solutions are made for is gas fired industrial furnaces. So, you know, I do that prospecting and rather than, you know, sending out campaigns or maybe doing ads geared towards people that don’t have furnaces, I know from the very beginning that these customers do have them and that our product will work for them. So I think that that kind of gives us an upper hand. 

Jeff White: Yeah, Yeah. The very deep level of understanding of the product market fit for sure.

Carman Pirie:  Yeah. And not but you’re not worrying about it sounds as though I guess to ask the question rather than put words in your mouth, but you’re not. They don’t have to have budget authority, need and timeline in order to be in SQL for you.

Taylor Smith: No because, so our systems what we do is very unique really no other company is kind of in this area yet. Our systems have seen our return of 20 to 25% increased productivity or you can use that the other way and say decreased gas consumption. So any way that you look at it, there is an ROI on our product. 

Carman Pirie: Since you don’t have a lot of competitors in the space, people know they need you yet? 

Taylor Smith: That has been our toughest obstacle yet, is proving that this technology is needed so we don’t just sell the product. We also do combustion services and there are a lot of other companies that do that. We started with this new product this year actually, we call it a furnace screening. So rather than going in and tuning the furnace, which you can see that increased productivity with a tuning, but it might only last a week or two with the monitoring, you’re sure to get that 20% increase consistently, which would be all the time. So we started doing these furnace screenings and instead of going in and tuning the furnace and saying. Hey, we fixed your problem, and then saying, wow, the furnace is operating great, I don’t need monitoring. It’s operating better than it ever has. We go in and we tell them exactly how inefficient it’s operating. We don’t fix the problem. And that, right there, that number gives them Their ROI. So that gives them, you know, if, if they’re operating 13% inefficiently and we can say we can increase that to we can increase 13% plus. If you use some of our other products, we can get you to 25%. That really lays out a clear ROI for them. So that’s kind of how we started breaking into the market.

Carman Pirie: I love having the discipline to not solve the problem at the start. There is a lot of application in sales for that, uh, that discipline. I would say it’s one of the things that I really find separates really good salespeople from mediocre ones is really good ones don’t give away what they sell and, and they’re disciplined in how they, how they solve problems. That’s really interesting. I haven’t, I don’t think I’ve heard an example like that, Jeff.  

Jeff White: No, no, I don’t think so either. Yeah. You talked a bit about, you know, getting that marketing and sales alignment. You have a small team on the sales side. There at PSNERGY and I’m assuming you all work a little bit differently. How are you kind of bringing everyone together to have, have a similar view into, you know, going after those clients as you were just explaining those customers?

Taylor Smith: So, you know, obviously we’re in manufacturing and these target markets are very complex and there’s no one size fits all solution. And I don’t think that there’s a one size fits all sales process either. So I’m the youngest salesperson on our team. I do things very differently than some of the other guys on the team, and I think that’s totally fine. You know, just having that communication and saying. Hey, this is how I like to do it, and having those results showing that it’s working on both sides of it. I think that that’s totally fine and just kind of respecting that not everyone has to do it the same way. There really is no one size fits all sales process. And I believe that with marketing too. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, I can appreciate that people can find different ways to succeed. So, you know, every sales person can take a somewhat different approach and put numbers on the board, put you on the spot: Have you seen anything where you’re like, man, like that is just backwards. They should just they’re wasting their time. I don’t do it that way for a reason. And they just haven’t figured it out yet. 

Taylor Smith: Um, yeah, I, I do feel that way sometimes. I really feel like we all carry our weight pretty well, which is awesome. You know, I, I’m very hard to keep pushing on that first screening, so I do not want to tune your furnace. I will tune it if you ask me 50 times. Like, I want to screen your furnace. I want to give you that ROI. I want to show you how poorly it’s operating. And you know, some people on our team kind of give up on that a little earlier than others, which is totally fine. Business is business. But I see, I see a future with the product. And I really think, you know, pushing these screenings is so important. And every time we do them, we see how inefficient these furnaces are. We never get on site and they’re operating perfectly. So, you know, that’s, that’s really my thing is just keep pushing for the end product and that furnace screening, it’s not an expensive service that we provide. It’s, it’s really to see, you know, do they have skin in the game? We have skin in the game. Let’s move forward and build this ROI together. 

Carman Pirie: I really, I really love that it didn’t just come down to like, you’re younger so you use LinkedIn for prospecting more. 

Taylor Smith: No, not at all. 

Carman Pirie: You seriously, I think that that’s… I love that answer.  

Taylor Smith: But I do think LinkedIn is very important.

Carman Pirie: Yes. 

Jeff White: I wanted to kind of key on that. You know, you mentioned how you were the youngest amongst the sales team, you know, relatively new, even just in, you know, out of school somewhat recently. You know, this is an interesting sector that is struggling to attract young talent. And you guys are doing some interesting things around trying to remedy that, especially at PSNERGY. But you know, more broadly as well. Tell us a bit about those strategies and how you’re how you’re kind of looking to bring more people like yourself into these roles. 

Taylor Smith: Yeah. So really, I think that there are two main things that we have to do and it’s educate and expose. So I am the marketing director for Women in Manufacturing, our Western Pennsylvania chapter. And we work, we work with local companies, we work within the community, within schools, and we really try to bridge that gap and whether that be hosting plant tours or just telling our stories. So I’ve been asked multiple times to, you know, just talk about the painting, yellow lines and how that really got me into this industry. I truly believe that I would have never been exposed to this industry or I would have never found my passion for it if I hadn’t done that internship or the summer help job. So, you know, just exposing kids to all of the beauty of manufacturing early in life, I think that that’s really cool. And also showing them that you don’t have to be an engineer and you don’t have to be in production. You can love manufacturing and be in finance or sales or marketing. There’s so many different opportunities that kind of fall out of that original thought process of being a laborer or being an engineer.

Jeff White: Mm hmm. Yeah. I think that there aren’t many kinds of employers that span the gamut of opportunity types, quite like manufacturers, really, because you, you know, you really don’t find that anywhere else. You know, in consulting, we don’t have those production type roles or the, you know, in the same way. So there’s just so many additional opportunities. And in the last little, last few weeks, you actually participated in Manufacturing day as well and brought, I would assume, a bunch of fresh faces into the plant. What, what did you find there and how did that come about? 

Taylor Smith: So manufacturing day is a really cool event that the Manufacturer and Business Association located in Erie hosts. And I think this year there were about 2500 kids that came. It’s really like a miniature trade show for them. So all of the companies go to our Bayfront Convention Center and they set up their real life trade show booths. And, you know, the kids walk it like a regular trade show. They’re breakout sessions. So I was lucky enough to host one of those with some of my other board members from Women in Manufacturing. And, you know, it was so cool to sit there and we did a panel discussion. So, you know, we answered a few scripted questions, but the kids were so engaged and they started asking us questions and they were so interested in, you know, learning about the difference, not the difference, but, you know, the challenges that women face in the industry. I think about ten kids had asked me after the fact, well, how many how many women are in manufacturing? And I got to tell them the statistics. You know, there used to be 9% women. And over the last 20, 30 years, we’ve increased to 28% women in the industry. And seeing their eyes light up and getting excited that, you know, there are different opportunities and different paths that you can take and be in an industry that you like that was so cool for them to see and I love being able to share that with them. 

Jeff White: I bet the happy Hours are pretty raucous, though, right? Like at the trade show.

Taylor Smith: Actually. Okay, So thankfully they do a happy hour for the, for the exhibitors afterwards. But it’s, it was awesome. You know, just seeing that many faces walking around and interested in everything that these companies are doing. It’s really refreshing. 

Carman Pirie: What’s the most surprising question you got? 

Taylor Smith: Somebody had asked us during the panel how much we get paid. And, you know, my, friends were taken aback a little bit, on the spot I got to come up with the answer. Well, we get paid well enough that we’re willing to sit here and tell you guys that you should pursue careers in this industry,So.

Carman Pirie: That’s nice 

Jeff White: Well thought out on your feet. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, yeah. Taylor, we’ve got a future for you in politics,if this whole PSNERGY thing doesn’t work out, so. 

Taylor Smith: I don’t know how I came up with that. 

Jeff White: It’s a pretty good redirect. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, it is. Yeah. Listen, kid, the real question here is just imagine trying to get like a CNN and down the line interview or something. What? I’m, I, I look, I really appreciate the notion that, you know, exposure is really key here. You know, it’s hard to, it’s hard to fall in love with stuff you don’t know about. It’s, it’s hard to be interested in things you haven’t seen. 

Jeff White: Both on the technical sales front and on the recruitment of young kids in the industry front. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. 

Jeff White: And drawing those back together.

Carman Pirie: But as we think about what we need to do in manufacturing to really crack this HR nut and really get people excited about the space. Is there anything that you can, anything, anything undermine that you’re like, you know, this is manufacturers need to do more of this. 

Taylor Smith: Well, I think something that, you know, we’re not good at and I think a lot of other companies aren’t very good at is showing what you’re doing behind closed doors. And I think that that’s the thing that got me interested. And that’s really what gets other people interested as well, is opening your doors and, you know, a lot of times companies, you know, if you have certain contracts and things like that, you can’t necessarily post on social media, but open your doors, open your doors and bring people in, whether it’s people in the industry or people in the community, and let them come in and walk around your facility for an hour and show them what you have going on. I think that that’s really one of the most important things, is just being willing to open your doors and kind of explaining your process to people, really getting them interested in what you do. You know, you would never know one of our customers down the road manufactures Cummins engines and KitchenAid mixers all in one facility. You would never you would never know that that was down the street, and I think that that’s so cool. So, you know, things like that, it’s just open your doors and show the community what you’re doing. Invite them in. 

Jeff White: I think that’s a really good idea. Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, that’s really interesting advice. And it feels to me, I don’t know. I’m dating myself now, but it just feels to me like when I was a kid that seemed to happen more, I don’t know. And I come from a very small area in a very rural part of Canada, for goodness sakes. But it seemed like there was a I don’t know, I think it’s in fairly natural motion for a manufacturer to get back to like this and like every manufacturer on the planet loves to do a factory tour for the most part.

Jeff White: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: It’s just like they don’t always think about doing it on a community wide nature. But it’s interesting. 

Jeff White: Yeah. I grew up in similarly rural kind of conditions and that my father was a draftsman before he retired at a manufacturer of RF Radio transmitters. Huge, huge things. And I used to spend every one of the, you know, ‘take your kid to work’ day and job shadowing day and all of that. Just sort of know, going around the metal stamping plant and all of the other parts of that. So I saw every aspect of that. And then they ended up being our first manufacturing client when we opened Kula, so. 

Carman Pirie: but now, of course, I mean, not everybody…

Jeff White:Not everybody gets that experience. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, I think Taylor’s  advice here is really solid. Open the doors to the community and and understand that the impact of that is more than just the PR reputational side. There’s a real kind of planting the seeds of manufacturing’s future really in that.

Taylor Smith: Something that I think about too is, you know, when you open the doors to the community, people are going to talk. So in marketing, I always think that the best reference is word of mouth. If one of my customers tells somebody that they know about our product, that means more than any campaign I can run or any educational content I can put out. So, you know, it works that way in the community as well. You have no idea who these people might know. They may just know your next biggest customer. 

Jeff White: Yep. Your next hire in the marketing and sales department. 

Carman Pirie: Exactly.

Taylor Smith: Right? 

Jeff White: Yeah. Well, what do you, as we, as we come to a close here, you know, what do you what are you most looking forward to? You know, as we go into 2024? 

Taylor Smith: Honestly, I’m looking forward to seeing PSNERGY’s growth. We’re at a point right now where, you know, we’re just having growing pains, where we have, we have all of these orders. We have our new building that we’re moving into. We’re putting all of our manufacturing and our research and development, our offices all together in one. And from a personal note, I’m really looking forward to seeing how that collaboration helps us grow. And then from an industry standpoint, you know, I’m really just excited to see, hopefully, since COVID is no longer. I know that’s not really a thing, but it’s not really front-facing anymore. I’m really hoping to see that more people are hosting plant tours or opening their doors, you know, networking, happy hours, things like that. I think one of the coolest things about the industry is really the people, and that’s my favorite thing is getting to connect with different people in the industry, whether that be in person or virtually. So I really just want to see, you know, the industry continue to come together and move forward. 

Carman Pirie: Taylor it’s been wonderful having you on the show. I think it’s been a fascinating conversation and it led me to some interesting, interesting paths I didn’t think we were going to go down. So this has been fantastic. Thank you so much. 

Taylor Smith: Thank you for having me.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s K-U-L-A

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Taylor Smith Headshot


Taylor Smith

Technical Sales and Marketing, PSNERGY

Taylor Smith is a marketing creative with a passion for manufacturing with over five years of experience in the primary metals industry. Her outgoing personality is highlighted in her career as a Technical Sales and Marketing Specialist at PSNERGY, a leading combustion partner for global steel and aluminum companies. Taylor earned her BA in Communication Arts (Public Relations and Advertising) during her time spent in Brooklyn, NY as a Division I Student-Athlete. She also serves as the Marketing Director for the Western Pennsylvania branch of Women in Manufacturing (WiM) to help empower and bring together women in the manufacturing sector.

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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