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PowerChord’s new CEO turns software firm’s focus outward

Margie Manning

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William "Bill" Volmuth

The new CEO of PowerChord is expanding the software company’s focus.

PowerChord will work with local schools to make sure they are training students in the software language the company uses, said William “Bill” Volmuth, who was promoted to CEO in July. The sales team will get in front of its customers more, while Volmuth will make sure the investment community knows about the company.

Volmuth previously was president at PowerChord, a Software-as-a-Service company whose clients are companies with dealer distributors or franchisees. PowerChord creates brand-specific websites that become digital storefronts and help manufacturers protect their brand, engage customers and grow local revenue, while giving independent dealers the ability to compete against large, online retailers.

The company, headquartered in downtown St. Petersburg, is a privately held business that employs about 80 people and plans to add to its staff over the next few months.

Core values

Volmuth is a veteran business and technology expert who has worked with Ballast Point Ventures, an investor in PowerChord. He initially worked with PowerChord as a consultant, and was named president in July 2019 when former CEO Lanny Tucker left the company.

“PowerChord has had a good deal of success over the year but as often happens with startups sometimes the mission vision and the focus gets lost,” Volmuth said. “So we stepped back and looked at the core values — what’s the mission vision of PowerChord, what do we do well — and said, let’s build on that.”

During Volmuth’s first six months as president, the company focused on five core values: quality, unity, innovation, integrity and collaboration. The team identified success in connecting brands to local customers, and driving local lead conversions to dealer networks.

“We create this demand using digital marketing, whether it’s social networks or search, and we drive those leads down to the dealers for the brands, and those dealers take those and convert them to sales,” Volmuth said. “We’re never going to compete with Amazon and the big commodity products. But for those high-consideration products – a lawn mower, outdoor power equipment or a boat mower – most people want to look at a specification sheet. They want to touch it and feel it.”

When Volmuth was still a consultant, he wanted to buy a hedge clipper. He used the PowerChord system to find a dealer, who let Volmuth and his wife clip hedges in the back of the store so they could see how it worked.

“That’s the kind of touch you can’t get on Amazon … That’s PowerChord’s forte,” he said.

The company also identified the vertical markets in which it was having the most success: North American and European companies with high-consideration products with dealer networks, where the value of the brand, the dealer and the sale lead are all recognized. Then, it started putting processes in place to make sure it was consistent and doing the same thing every time.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. PowerChord stepped back to see how the market would respond.

“We were incredibly surprised and pleased that while a lot of the new customers we were talking to said we want to wait six months and see what happens, our existing customers started expanding their dealer network and started expanding more,” Volmuth said.

As the pandemic grew, sales of products that required leaving the home slowed. Other sectors flourished, including anything that has to do with projects around the home, such as outdoor power equipment, tractors and lawn mowers.

“Chain saws are running out of stock, because people are at home and doing projects. They are going out and buying outdoor power equipment to do their work,” Volmuth said.

The company also rebranded, adding a new logo and new platform features, as well as emphasizing the concept of connecting brands to local customers.

“Now it’s time to start focusing externally,” Volmuth said. “With the rebrand and the refresh and the messaging and telling people what we can do for them, it’s time to go on that outward focus.”

Priorities

As CEO, Volmuth has three key priorities.

The investment community. Ballast Point Ventures led a $10 million investment in PowerChord in 2016.

“We have a good cash position thanks to that but we also want to start getting the message across to the investment community for the next round of investing. Because once we figure out what our growth curve is going to be in the new world order, then we’d like to get further investments so we can grow faster,” Volmuth said.

Customers. “Just getting the message out to the various verticals we’re going after, to make sure they understand where we are and where we are going. I definitely want to get in front of customers more, including trade shows and industry markets,” he said.

The local community. “We want to touch base with universities and code shops and create a training ground for the things we are doing. We use the Google platform and a language called Go as our primary language. That is not predominantly used in the universities. So I’ve already starting to dialogue with USF and some of the other schools to work with them on that,” Volmuth said.

He’s also talking to Tampa Bay Tech and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce about diversity initiatives.

The company is hiring. PowerChord added five people in digital marketing and sales in the past 30 days, and expects to take on more workers late in the third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2020.

Volmuth was named to the PowerChord board of directors, where he works closely with Patrick Schunk, founder and board chairman.

Schunk credited Volmuth with aligning the strategic and operational needs for PowerChord’s future growth.

“Decisiveness, empowerment and vision are critical in today’s marketing and technology space and with Bill taking on the new role of CEO, he brings a refreshing mix of all these attributes and more to PowerChord’s future,” Schunk said in a statement.

Robert Faber, a partner at Ballast Point who is on the PowerChord board, said he is “thrilled” at Volmuth’s promotion.

“We have admired Bill’s technology and management acumen for a number of years, and we are excited that he will be leading one of Tampa Bay’s most promising technology companies,” Faber said.

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