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Solid Form

Ever been to Okayville?

If you’re a business owner, chances are you’ve felt its siren song at one point or another: It’s the land of “just okay,” where the company is doing… fine. Things are… generally good. It’s a deceptively alluring pit stop on the road to your vision. But there’s a razor-thin line between stability and stagnation, and it takes a special kind of visionary to see Okayville for what it is: a land of missed opportunities and unrealized potential.

A metal fabrication company, Solid Form is based in McMinnville, Oregon… but the scenery looked a lot more like Okayville when we met them in 2017. Visionary President Deven Paolo found himself in this seductive territory and recognized what many in his position might have overlooked: that settling for “just okay” was a dangerous compromise.

“We experienced growth for a number of years, but we realized that in order to take the next jump, we needed to better understand who our right-fit customers were — and then get a better marketing presence, a better voice, and a better story.”

– Deven Paolo, President

Chart with title: "Growth at Solid Form" showing sharp increase after Kinesis started working with Solid Form
Solid Form Employee Working
Solid Form Logo

Solid Form’s Quantum Leap

The company had historically focused on small, residential fabrication projects — which had low profit margins and were notoriously difficult to manage. Instead, we examined where exponential opportunities may exist, and got to work re-positioning the company toward a larger customer base. This meant examining their sales process, developing new proposal materials, and restructuring their portfolio to showcase larger projects and partnerships… all centered around their mission of ingenuity.

“Everybody else gave us a quote for how many blog posts, how many Facebook posts. Kinesis said, ‘We’re not even going to touch any of that stuff right off the bat.’ You can have the story, but if it doesn’t match the customer experience, you’re wasting your time. You have to look at it from the inside out, so that by the time you’re telling your story, it matches who you are. That resonated.”

– Deven Paolo, President

A quantum leap like this demanded a different level of creativity and ingenuity from the team — prompting Solid Form to place even greater emphasis on recruitment, retention, and culture. We helped to completely revamp Solid Form’s hiring and onboarding process — including training programs, employee growth plans, and a new org chart.

Solid Form growth map workbook for employees
Solid Form org chart
Right-fit career path at Solid Form poster
Production floor at Solid Form in warehouse with employees and big machinery
Two Solid Form engineers working together over blueprint plans
Two Solid Form employees leveling material in workshop

“Clarifying our mission and values has made it so easy to roll out to our employees. We use it as a management tool, to answer questions… it’s brought clarity to how we do things. That’s huge.”

– Deven Paolo, President

Before long, Solid Form became known as one of the most sought-after employers in rural McMinnville — turning Deven into a thought leader for how to address the talent crisis in the skilled trades.

Solid Form website
Solid Form Pinot Noir wine
Solid Form student outreach and training

“We had the big idea — we wanted to encourage employees, parents, companies, and educators to address the skilled trades crisis in a new way. It’s about forging your own right-fit career path, not following a prescriptive template. But we needed help getting that story out.”

– Deven Paolo, President

There are many good ways to tell that story; Solid Form chose to live it. This meant establishing an educational endowment fund to support local trade students. Then launching a custom wine, the sale of which raised enough money for seven student scholarships in a matter of months. It meant hosting an annual unconference to discuss the talent shortage in a unique format, and introducing this revolutionary idea on the TEDx stage.

“Kinesis is my go-to for new ideas, inspirations, and thought discussions. They’re so in tune with our business that they really feel like a part of the team. It isn’t just someone on the outside who doesn’t give a shit what we’re working on — they genuinely care about what we’re trying to accomplish. Someone to bounce ideas off of and have thoughtful responses is something I really value.”

– Deven Paolo, President

Solid Form's Unconference led by President Deven Paolo
Woman writing on a sticky note during the Unconference put on by Solid Form
Solid Form's President, Deven Paolo, speaking at TedX McMinnville

By becoming an industry leader around this big idea, Solid Form has garnered a reputation in the community that goes far beyond metal fabrication. As a result, they are able to broaden the conversation and establish entirely new kinds of next-level partnerships.

“I’ve had contractors comment on our brand and website. People in our community know our mission statement now — I talk to them at parties and they bring up ingenuity.”

– Deven Paolo, President

And not only are they securing more projects, but better ones: their average customer spend is up 64%, and average project size up 49%. But most importantly? They’ve retained and grown their team by 30%.

Solid Form employees installing giant metal fabricated fork outside a community culinary pod
Solid Form employee cutting a beam
President Deven Paolo descending a metal staircase produced by Solid Form at a winery
Solid Form team member welding
Solid Form team inspecting a staircase

Experience your

Solid Form escaped incremental “okay” in favor of next-level exceptional. What would that next level look like for you?

“Looking back, I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished together. We’ve reinforced our foundation where it was needed and we’re laying the building blocks for the future. It’s been a phenomenal growth period for Solid Form, and Kinesis has been a huge part of that.”

– Deven Paolo, President

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