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March 21st, 2024

The Branding Blueprint for Business Success

Host

Kathy Steele

CEO of Red Caffeine

Guest

David Karbin

Vice President of Lexco Cable

Revisit the insights shared by Kathy Steele and Vice President of Lexco Cable David Karbin as they discuss Lexco’s branding journey. With the help of Red Caffeine, Lexco has successfully navigated the complex process of a brand transformation, emerging as a standout leader in the wire rope industry. Lexco has leveraged its brand to not only increase market presence but also enhance customer loyalty and drive significant business growth. This session offers a blueprint for businesses looking to harness the power of branding to propel their market success and sustain long-term growth.

Recap Points 

  • Gain insights into Lexco’s successful branding strategy
  • Understand the importance of brand investment in strengthening market presence
  • Explore how branding influences customer loyalty and employee satisfaction.

Kathy: Welcome to business as unusual. This is the live stream where we delve into the pressing issues and emerging trends shaping the business landscape. We’re going to get started in just a few minutes, but if you have questions, please feel free to add them to the chat, and I will try to get to them. All of them during today’s session. I’m Kathy Steele, and I’m the CEO of Red Caffeine and your host today. And for those of you unfamiliar with red caffeine, we are a growth consultancy, and we build and execute grow-to-market plans for ambitious mid-market companies. Our service offering includes A fractional team that is led by a senior level. Marketing leader that enables a business to scale rapidly without hiring a full range of full-time staff members to move their growth plan forward. So today, we have a topic that’s super close to my heart: Branding. It’s where I started my career as a designer many, many moons ago. So, while people think about Branding as a logo or mark, we believe your brand is just so much more than that. And so, I always like to equate Branding with an analogy. So, a common thing that we’ve all likely done in the last week, month, or year, and so if you’ve heard me talk about Brandon, you may have heard me talk about this before. But what I encourage you to think about is the last time you went into a convenience store, opened the cooler, and selected a bottle of water. So, depending on what water you selected, you’ve likely been influenced by the brand and the positioning of those waters. Did you pick Ice Mountain? Because it’s affordable in Fiji because it’s pure, or did you pick smart water because you want to? You’ve been influenced by Jennifer Aniston, who’s beautiful and advocates states for the electrolytes in the product. Those very same principles apply to how someone chooses your brand over your competitors, regardless of the industry you’re in. So, your brand is your logo, but it’s also how you’re positioned in the market. It’s your value proposition and what makes you different in the eyes of your customers and employees. So today. I’m really excited to have David Carbo. The VP of Lexical Cable joined us. So, Mexico’s been a client of Red Caffeine for about 5 years now, and David’s going to share some of the fun and tactical parts of Branding and how it’s impacted his business, customers, and employees. So, let’s jump in. So, David, you know how I like to start things off, I think. Everybody that’s joining. Us today has probably read a little bit about you, but. Tell us something fun that’s not on the bio. 

 

David: OK, I love playing pickleball. I’m trying to do it once a week. Yesterday, I finished my 456 class, and I graded it. They waited, so I love doing that. I also want to mention that I’m married. I have a young family. I want to say hi to Jordan, who’s 6, and Tyler, who’s 8, and Ethan, who’s 11, and I want to say hi to my dog, Lexie, and hi to my wife. Abby. Abby’s. By a rock. She keeps me from getting lost.

 

Kathy: I love it. You know, it was sort of funny that my daughter recently shared that my grandson found out that I was a streamer, and I immediately became way cooler in his eyes. So, I’m glad you shouted out to your kids and your family today. 

 

David: And then I’m just on the kind of business adjacent side. I don’t want to mention that I’m in my second year on the TMA Board of Directors, and it’s been really nice to meet other local business owners, entrepreneurs, and consultants. I’ve enjoyed participating and learning from others in that way. 

 

Kathy: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for giving back to your community by volunteering on the TMA board. I know they’ll probably really appreciate your participation. So, let’s talk. About Lex, call for a few minutes. Can you give us a brief overview of Lexico and your role? 

 

David: Yes, the first thing to know is that it’s a family business, and I’m proud to be the third generation here. My Grandpa Harold started the business as a hardware store, and then it became a bicycle franchise. Because Schwinn locally was giving away franchises. When? You were dealing with a couple of bikes, and they, my grandpa and his brother, were creative inventor types, and they saw an opportunity to make security cables to go with their bike sales, and they were do-it-yourself. Hers. They started crimping their loops. In-house, with a press that they bought. And they started making more and more until the point where they needed more coated reels of cable, and they actually bought a used extruder where they started coating themselves and manufacturing and making, you know, security cables in-house. And that was all they had. A retail shop in the front. So, Fast forward. In 1974, they restructured the business as completely wholesale and distribution and fabrication, and then in the 70s, my dad joined the company, and he took security cables for bicycle lock up to security cables. For retail lockup, and then that was a stepping stone to making security cables for industrial applications. And over the years, he added to that by making bungee assembly. And then Fast forward a little bit. I’ve been full-time for 18 years, the last fifteen of which we’ve been ISO 9001 certified. So, over time, we’ve become more professional, and we’ve fleshed out our engineering departments and our quality departments; I’m focusing on sales and purchasing and marketing heavily. But I also have. Involvement in production: for example, I lead our C&C department, where we make some of our fittings. I also want to mention that my Aunt Karen is on our executive team as well, and this year is a milestone because Lexico is celebrating 50 years under our current framework. 

 

Kathy: Yeah. Well, congratulations. It’s hard to get to 10 years, so we’re always really in awe of any business that has a legacy that long. It’s also cool that you’re multigenerational. So, David, let’s talk about the topic at hand; what led you to focus? Non-branding is one of your strategic priorities. 

 

David: It stemmed from the website. I always endeavoured to improve the website and that was the perfect venue to showcase products and also tell our story. So that’s where it was born from. And it’s definitely been a slow journey. So we usually relaunched the website with, you know, significant changes maybe every five years or so. So, every time we’ve done that, we’ve been more thoughtful about what pages to include. Where maybe we didn’t before, or maybe to highlight some pages differently, and I’m super pumped that later this year, the website gets another relaunch with your help. 

 

Kathy: Yeah. 

 

David: That will be great for mobile and everything, but in between those five-year spans, it hasn’t been a set-it-and-forget-it static type of enterprise; we do many updates. One to two times a month where we add a picture to our gallery, add a blog, or add a piece of content in one form or another, and so we’ve been maintaining it routinely. We also try to tie in our Branding. You know we’re getting more savvy at doing that. We think about it holistically, Branding is intertwined throughout the marketing. And what you can see in the photo there is that the Branding has expanded from the screen of the website into the building here. So that’s a picture of our remodelled foyer. 

 

Kathy:  Yeah. So, I, I mean, I love that you. You know, you really highlighted the fact of how much your brand is. You know part of the online experience on your website. I think that is sometimes a myth for some, in some organizations, especially in manufacturing. Where there’s this, this sentiment that you know, people aren’t even going to their website and how much impact and how much focus you’ve got, you’ve had it looks to go on making sure that brand experience is on your digital presence. But let’s talk. A little bit about the internal Branding. So, every interaction with your company. It is essentially a brand touch point, and so they all play a role in your customer and employee experience. So, knowing that those things really impact the business, you did it recently to make this. Pretty significant investment in your internal Branding, so tell us a little bit about, you know, why, and what you know what that initiative entailed. 

 

David: Yeah, before the walls were pretty sparse and. Just to tell you how I like it, if my living room has white walls, it bothers me. I want things to be on the wall that are cool or meaningful. So, what I had done over the years before this was take artifacts, pictures, and articles that I could find. And go over to the great frame up and then look forward to when I put them on the wall. And then, you know, admire them. And I’m not going. To stop doing that. But it was kind of piecemeal. Then, there wasn’t really any showpiece or big cohesive thing. It was like little things here and there, little wall hangers. So, for the first time, we kind of thought about it. In a bigger scope, how could we make an impact and an impression when you enter? Space. You know, when you visit a foyer where there’s like nothing in it except, you know, a door. You know, it’s like it’s just a blank slate and you can think what you want, but when your perception is guided by, you know what’s been curated. It’s a whole other level of impression. But it wasn’t just, you know, going from this big idea to landing on what you see on the sides of the slide; a big stepping stone was developing Lexico brand standards, which is what you’re seeing a glimpse of in the middle of that slide, so you see colours that are assigned to our brand, and you see multiple logos that are assigned to the brand. One more tradition is primary. And then also secondary versions that are more abbreviated. The ex from Mexico and so on. Without that being in place, we couldn’t have leaped, you know, it was kind of like the foundation for the project, and of course, the logo has developed over time. The X logo that you see on the right didn’t even, you know, exist five years ago. Red caffeine helped us to make that. That was interesting to learn that there was even a, you know, a need for a secondary logo. So that was another stepping stone along the way. And yeah, it’s been a joint effort. I try to, you know, soak up knowledge from our partners and Kind of make it a joint effort when we’re doing something like this. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, absolutely. I really appreciate you talking about where the foundational elements started to play a role. Do we have a slide next that we want to go to show some of the ways this all unfolded in terms of the full-year experience? 

 

David: Yeah. So that couch was new, and we tried to match the yellow from the  

brand standards. It used to be a very bland chair that was falling apart, and then we painted on one side. One of the greenish Blues from our brand standard. And then the actual material, like people ask, is t, that wallpaper? It’s, you know, interesting. It’s actually a vinyl that you can print anything you want on it, and then it goes up similarly to wallpaper. So, it’s totally customizable, and that’s how it came out. 

 

Kathy: You know, we obviously know that your customers are going to visit you on occasion, and so they’re going to experience that foyer for themselves. But this effort really had some effect on your employees. Can you talk a little bit about that impact? That’s hard on the team. 

 

David: Yeah. So, the background of that mosaic collage of products, then when you’re up close, you can see it’s large enough, you know, big enough where you can make out all the details. So, it was a bit of a surprise for some employees. I didn’t tell everybody in advance, so there was like a big reveal, like where the employees were. On break, all of a sudden, there was a completely redone wall where there wasn’t, and I kind of stood back and watched what happened. And there was like pointing and chatting, and what they were doing was saying, I remember. Making that assembly, and I know which customer that’s for and so there was a connection that was, you know, on a whole deeper level for an employee, but still a great impression to a customer. But just in a much deeper way for the employee getting to experience it. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I think we forget the impact of showcasing the work that we do, the pride that our employees feel, and some of the things that they’ve contributed to tribute to over the years. So, I love that you were able to see that firsthand. I actually love that there was that element of surprise but talk a little bit about the impact that it’s had on you. 

 

David: Yeah. So, just like the employees had a fun moment, I had an aha moment as well, and my epiphany was that. Well, there was a holy **** moment. I should have done this sooner. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it. Leave it because when you’re doing something like this, you know you’ve looked at it on the screen. 100 times. It’s a different thing when it’s on a whole wall, and I didn’t think it was going to, like, give me a wow factor. But it did; it blew me away, and I was thinking about it, you know, in the weeks that followed, like, wow, why? Why did that unexpectedly connect with me? And I think it was because I kind of had me. It had lexicon DNA, and it had my blueprint on it, too. It had my thumbprint because I shaped the concept of it. And I got to oversee, you know, from idea to completion. And so, it really felt like my own. It felt like I was putting my presence in the company in a visual way, and that made it very exciting for me. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I think it’s, you know it, it’s interesting when we work with businesses that have multi-generations, and sometimes it’s challenging to feel like you’ve really made something your own or made some change in the business. So, I’m glad that you had. Had that deeper emotional connection beyond that; it just looks so much cooler, and I love that you’ve been able to pull it through throughout the plant. There are just so many other elements and touch points that have been updated and refreshed, and so, it’s not just the foyer; it really carries through too many of the other areas. And within the building. 

 

David: Yeah, it was a domino effect. 

 

Kathy: Exactly. Exactly. So, yeah, I think, you know, your account leader, Rachel. I know. She championed this idea, and I think you also have some, maybe some, yellow M&M’s in the foyer now, too, or something like that, just some additional branded elements. 

 

David: Yes, they thank you for those. They come out fast, so you have to be ready. Yeah. It was a little pop of something fun that had our ex-logo on it, really, and made it extra special. And yeah, shout out to Rachel. She had a vision before I could see it. 

 

Kathy: Well, you had to pull the trigger, so it’s a collaborative effort. So, let’s swing back around to the website and the user experience. So, how important has the branding strategy been in terms of the user experience, and what have been some of the investments that you’ve made here online? 

 

David: Yeah. For me, the Branding on the website is like everything. It’s so important and can’t be understated in the left view; it’s the top half of our home page. Above the fold, if you will, and that top banner is a slide show, and we get to customize that to what we want to promote the most. And then just under that. We have these six categories of products: wire, rope, wire, rope, fittings, wire, rope, hardware, cable, railing, push, pull controls, and bungee cord. And so, everything is one click away from the home page and we’re kind of guiding the user journey in a way that hopefully is natural. In the second picture that you see, there is one of our drop-down menus, which is right off the top of the top navigation. And so, we’ve got these buckets under us. You won’t just find history; you’ll also find information about the markets we serve; for example, under resources, you can find many different downloads. On the left part of this slide, you’ll see an assembly Configurator and we wanted to make it easy for a customer that doesn’t have a drawing or a print to select what they want. Without having us, you know, babysit that experience on a phone call, which we’re happy to do. But it’s nice to be able to let somebody filter and find something that way that allows them to define what they want. Even when they couldn’t put their finger on it beforehand. So yeah, just to say it again, the website design and the branding strategy, they’re like one in. They’re at the forefront. They’re so important. We focus on them in the same light. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I think that you know what we always strive for is to extend the brand and the brand experience to what you really want customers to feel, and your site really demonstrates just this ease of use. You know, resourcefulness this, you know, intuitiveness and then, you know, meeting somebody where they’re at, you’ve got, you know, things like your phone number, front, and centre as well as, you know if somebody wants to do it themselves, they can use the Configurator and play along by themselves. So, let’s talk about, you know, one of your passions, because I can remember before we did the big website, the first big website initiative with you guys five years ago, that I talked with you and your father to ensure that we were going to make sure we were not going to lose any of the. The great. SEO and some of the things that you had built in terms of domain authority and things. Like that. People want information brands that deliver this, you know, type of information, get noticed, get clicks. So, can you really talk about some of the things that have been instrumental in terms of your online strategy, like your blog content? And how have those really built Lexico as a thought leader in the industry? 

 

David: Yeah. Right. We revamped the blog recently and have been working on a post for its monthly on average, and when I work with a copy on a rough draft, I’m writing. It. To the customer, it’s my love letter. OK, however, that drought goes through a process were. It’s come through to see. Are the keywords that could be there that are relevant and important to us. Are those keywords there? So, it’s also crafted for that search engine optimization audience. And so, we tried to marry and overlap those audiences so that the blog reads. As a person wrote it for a person, but at the same time, there are nooks and crannies of keywords in there, which is which Google is able to pick up with its crawlers, and those are keywords that are, you know, deliberate and appropriate to admit. Because if you try too just. Cheat on that. Google is too smart for that now. 

 

Kathy: Exactly. Exactly. Tell it. Give a couple of examples if you don’t mind, could you, you know. 

 

David: Yes. So, wire rope is one of the biggest keyword phrases in our space. So, we’ve done blogs such as. As for what’s the right wire rope for me, one of our biggest manufacturing processes is coating wire rope with plastic through extrusion. So we’ve done a blog about different types of coated cable and how and why, and then we delve into topics about some of the fittings such as. OK, let’s compare swaged fittings to swage less fittings, which is one of the conversation topics that happens from time to time. You know, on phone calls with the customer. So, we picked that as one that would be good to address in a blog because of the appetite. It’s there. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I love that you’re marrying customer conversations to your online strategy. David, I think the SEO piece has played just so much of a relevant role. I don’t know that people always understand SEO and its connection to brands. So, can you talk about some of the additional strategies that have also worked well for you at Lexicon? 

 

David: Yes, I. And just to put it out there, I’m a technical sales guy, so when it comes to technical SEO, I know as much as I need to be dangerous and to collaborate on it. So, without getting into the weeds, things are things about SEO that stand out. To me. Are. Of course, they start by simply optimizing images to the right resolution in the right tags. There are basics. But then you also want to optimize the text I. There are so many times where I’ll be perusing a website, and I’ll notice that there’s just like one or two sentences, and I see that I see, Oh my gosh. They should have put a couple of paragraphs there. Because you sometimes lose out on opportunities whereby complementing some of your pictures with text, you get so much more mileage. For that content and so it’s an opportunity to be had. And so yeah, we, there are all these little things, and they’re kind of them. It’s not just one thing, it is, it all culminates, you know, it’s cumulative. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I feel like, you know, I think we talked about some of the things that you’ve done in terms of branded and non-branded keywords. Investing in making the site mobile friendly, and we’re even going to be, you know, making it more mobile friendly and optimizing the images. So now, let’s talk a little bit more about, you know, the content and how SEO and your content creation have impacted. Some of the results on the site are so. Would have would. There have been some of the site traffic and customer engagement metrics. 

 

David: Yeah. When you first learn about website traffic, your mind immediately goes to let’s maximize that as much as possible, but you could potentially make a misstep because you want the traffic to be traffic that is meaningful, like warm. Traffic that’s actually going to have interest in the products and services that you’re showing on your site, so. So, there’s a term in marketing called a sales funnel. And I always go back to that because it’s you can, it’s literally a funnel, easy to think about and visualize at the wide end of the funnel. Maybe just above the funnel is the traffic and what you try to do, and hopefully, that traffic sticks around for more than a couple of seconds, and that leaves an impression. And if you don’t do a good job on your site, people click away very fast, and that doesn’t get you anywhere. So, what we try to do is to have the impressions transform into leads. And. And then, if when we do our best job in connecting to the customer, then that lead can transform further into a converted request, or it could be a request for information could be a request for a quote; we love those. It could be I’m. I’m picking up the phone. It could be I’m just going to send you an old-fashioned e-mail, but … that’s what the goal is to bring people through that funnel to engage with us, and then we can do our best work with them. 

 

Kathy: Yeah. And I think, you know, you invest a lot of time. I think the picture on the left really showcases some of the resources that you’ve invested in building out for customers who are more in the research phase. Is that accurate? On that left-hand side? 

 

David: Yes, those are downloads. We put things like brochures, a copy of our ISO cert, glossaries, and more product-focused information there. Then we also have downloads about, say, a military customer market and different tools. So, it’s a combination of literature and tools to either inform or inspire the customer. 

 

Kathy: Yeah. Well, I think this has actually had some real impact on some of the metrics, such as performance, RFPs, and even overall revenue. Can you speak to some of those performance metrics? 

 

David: The current version of the site launched in 2020. Approximately within a year of that, we had one of our best years ever, our best year, to be certain, and there we had a bump in traffic, and that bump in traffic went to a bump in impressions and leads, and so on. On the right side of the screen, you can see a screenshot from our gallery, and what I love about our gallery is 2 things you can do. More than two. It’s got our products I love. Our products and the resolution imagery. I love it. That. But there’s a yellow button that allows you to philtre. So, we wanted to add so many pictures, it was hard to find what you wanted. So, there’s a filter feature, which is nice, but then also, once you zoom in on the picture, you can request information about that picture and share a link to that picture. So, the gallery becomes. It is like a CatLog in the way that you can inquire and share. Well. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I love it. I mean, I remember, you know, I think your initial original site before we redesigned it had like 9000 pages on it. Now, you still have a lot of pages on your site, but it’s way more optimal. You use great photography, but it’s optimized properly so that you know the experience is informative. But it’s also efficient and it’s got those fast load times and such so. So, you know when we’re thinking about it. You know other mid-market businesses, and I mean honestly, David, you’re so knowledgeable; you’re just you. You definitely have such a great collaboration, especially on the digital side of your brand. But what are some of the things that you would tell another mid-market organization, whether they’re? Manufacturing and not why would they invest in Branding, marketing, and technology? What? What would you tell them? 

 

David: It’s such a difference maker it’s hard to, you know, convince some people to put time and energy and resources there. But I can genuinely say that it’s a big fuel. For Lexico has been to this point, we’ll be moving forward. It differentiates you; it puts you on the map and so on. You kind of have to trust and be patient because. It. It’s not. There isn’t a short. Cut. You have to have to put in the work. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I feel like I know, you know, you remember Julie? That was that 401K. I’m sure those are some of the things that she talked about in terms of, you know, that you’re investing, and it’s going to pay off, but it’s not always going to have that immediate gratification that some people are hoping for. But it’s definitely if you work the plan. If you stay committed, you’re. And get better and better results over time. So is what we’re thinking. About, you know, the future and some of the emerging trends, I mean, oh my gosh, there’s just so many things going on in marketing today. What are some of the things that you guys are thinking about watching? Closely. And how are they going to impact your brand and some of the future strategies that you have? 

 

David: Yes. What? So, when I was starting my career, companies were starting to do videos like company tours. And video is still an emerging trend, but now it’s not like it was. It’s not a 10-minute video. It’s a short video. I had to. I had to get with the times and learn what shorts were and what reels were, because that’s where the eyeballs are. And that’s where you know the algorithms put in front of people to see it. So, we. We think it’s a nice bite-sized way to share information, no matter the kind, and actually have it be seen, too. So that’s what I would do. Think about an emerging trend: short videos and. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, I definitely agree. I mean, it’s just that I think we’re appropriate. And if you think about even what Victor talked about last month in terms of overall online strategy and how, like what to put on your website, what to host on YouTube, you know, I think it can be. Super impactful to your brand strategy and customer experience? So, what are they? What are they? Other things are on the horizon for lexical in terms of their branding efforts that aren’t technically emerging trends. 

 

David: There are other things on the horizon. We’re going to take the interior Branding. As you see on the banner over my shoulder, we’re going to really grow that into the new website’s home page, so we’re going to double down on that. And we’re just going to continue with the interior Branding. You know, at the same time, we’re going to paint more walls, put up more graphics, and put up more banners, and I have some ideas. 

 

Kathy: Oh, right. Well, we’re excited about it. 

 

David: You about? 

 

Kathy:  That I know we want to, you know, make sure that brand gets extended to the front of the building as well. So, you know, I can’t believe it. You know, it’s been just such a pleasure to have you on today, David, and hear your business story and you are just really. You are such a great partner, so I really thank you for being present and sharing your experience with our audience today. So, can we show how if somebody wants to get a hold of David, how to reach out to him? 

 

David:  Thank you for having me. It’s been fun. I always enjoy it. 

 

Kathy: Yeah, it is. Really has been fun prepping and just. You know, kind of going back on memory lane and thinking about how we came together and some of the work that we’ve done over the five years of working with you. So, if you want to talk with David about his experience or anything with the lexical product line, please reach out and let me know. Business is unusual in the subject line of your communication, so he knows that you learned about his company and his experiences at the business as unusual. Stream. So, I want to always, you know, make sure that we thank our sponsors because they are key to keeping our business as unusual going. We’ve got M3 learning, and they are, you know, sales force support. So, creating sales superstars through training. And coaching, and then we have HR. Source and HR source is the Association for Employers, and they help manage HR needs efficiently and economically. And with that we also have our next guest, the President and CEO of HR Source, one of ours. My favourite returning guest, Mary Lynn Falomi, is going to be talking with me about how businesses can adapt their staffing strategies through staff, fractional staffing options, and so fractional employee employment. It’s really becoming more and more popular. In today’s marketplace, hiring is hard. So, you know a lot of organizations are really exploring, exploring different solutions and. Flexible staffing options for you know that they’re ever-changing the business landscape. So, we’re going to be talking about the world of fractional staffing. We’re going to talk about how it boosts your workforce agility and efficiency, how it can maybe save you some money or allow you to hire a senior-level person or a specialist that you could never really afford full-time. We do it ourselves. We’re fractional, so we totally drink the Kool-Aid, and we’re going to give you even some guidance on how to measure the ROI of engaging with a fractional service provider. So, I want to thank you again for joining us at the business as an unusual live stream. Again, I’m Kathy Steele, and it was super fun and thrilling to host this discussion with David. We hope you. Really got a lot from the ideas and the insights that we’ve shared today, and this is going to help you. Think differently about how to invest in your brand and how it can have an impact on your business, your customers, and your employees. We’re really helping you apply some of the lessons learned today and keep exploring new ways to make your brand stand out from the competition in the marketplace. So, if you need more insights or resources, please feel free to reach out to any of us at Red Caffeine. So, let’s continue to challenge the usual and push toward innovative customer and employee-centric business solutions. Until next time, we’ll keep building the US businesses that people want to work with. And four and thank you. 

 

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